By Kate Irwin
An Invermere couple are delighted to be home safely with their healthy baby son after his impromptu delivery by the side of the highway in Canal Flats earlier this month.
Tom and Melissa Altmann were expecting baby Logan, their second child, to be born around November 11th. But when Melissa went into labour five weeks early, on the couples October 8th wedding anniversary, they discovered that their son was impatient to join the world.
We were camping in Fairmont when the contractions started, Melissa said. We werent really very concerned at first. I was still five weeks away from my due date so we werent certain if the contractions were real or false.
While Tom and four-year-old Myles went off to find dinner, Melissa casually tracked her contractions using an iPhone app. But as the minutes ticked by and her labour continued, she decided to head for the hospital in Invermere to get checked over.
I still wasnt thinking it was the real deal at that point, Tom explained. But when I walked into the hospital and was told that we needed to head to Cranbrook hospital suddenly it was real and the excitement kicked in.
Scarcely believing what was happening, the couple headed for their Ford pickup truck, swiftly arranged a babysitter and were soon cruising down Westside Road.
After discovering in Invermere that Melissas labour had not progressed far, the mood was still fairly relaxed, Tom explained. But as they passed the Hoodoos just south of Fairmont and the contractions became faster and more intense, Melissa started to feel something was wrong.
Id had the experience of a long delivery with Myles and suddenly everything just started speeding up, so I told Tom to call 911, Melissa said. Their call was swiftly put through to an ambulance which had been working its way north from Cranbrook to collect a patient.
As they were minutes away from each other, Tom and Melissa arranged to meet the paramedics, Kyle Lomon and Olivia Roche in the parking lot of the Fire Valley Restaurant.
We arrived first, at about 10 p.m. and I remember thinking where do I park? Tom said with a smile. There wasnt a vehicle in sight, just a bunch of logging equipment and rows and rows of timber.
Melissa clambered out to stretch her legs in the chilly darkness, but within moments, after two of the strongest contractions yet, she realized that there was no more waiting, the baby was coming right away. Tom barely had time to help her back into the front seat of the truck before Melissa gave birth.
I had just got her back into the truck and she gave one more good push and Logan joined our lives, Tom explained. One of the first things I saw was that he was breathing, I checked him over and he cried very quickly, which was a huge relief. I checked his airway and patted him on the back and I remember looking at Melissa and saying weve got a happy, healthy boy.
With their new baby squirming in his arms, Tom reached into the back seat to grab something to keep Logan warm. Finding only a clean pair of boxer shorts, he had just managed to wrap him up snugly when the ambulance arrived.
There was a tranquil, peaceful moment when it was just the three of us under the stars, Tom recalled. We were the only people in the world at that moment. Then Kyle walked up and asked What have we here then? and I turned to show him and said Its a boy.
Melissa and the couples newborn son were checked over by the paramedics and placed in the back of the ambulance heading for Cranbrook, where both mother and baby were given a clean bill of health. As the flashing lights pulled away, Tom was left by the side of the road to heave a sigh of relief, astounded by the days events.
That first night we were definitely in shock, Melissa said. Im so proud of Tom and proud that we did it. I think any parent would do the same though, Tom added, You do what your child needs you to do We are just so grateful to the 911 operator and the paramedics and hospital staff in Cranbrook for helping us through it.
And the cause of all the fuss, little Logan, will be left with a lifelong reminder of his entry into the world. Tom and Melissa have decided to commemorate his birth in the front seat of the family pickup, by naming him Logan Ford Altmann.