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The unexpected grandchild; Our daughter thought she had a sore back. She had no idea what was to come.
by Charlene Beney

    As I gazed at my grandson's birth certificate, I read "Place Born: Beaver Harbour, New Brunswick." I wondered how long it had been since there had been a birth certificate issued that read that. Home births are not as common in this part of the province any more.


Proud Grandparents!!
Carl, Baby Christopher and Charlene.
Photo Courtesy of Charlene Beney.

    I remember that day clearly. My daughter, who lives next door, had stayed home from work that day complaining of a cold and backache. She phoned me and asked if I had a heating pad to ease the discomfort of her back. When I took it down, she told me her symptoms, and I managed to get her an appointment with her doctor for 4 p.m. that afternoon.

    Her back bothered her more and more as the day wore on and she was very grateful to see the doctor who thought she had pulled a muscle. Melissa worked a physically demanding job at a salmon plant and had been working numerous overtime hours, regularly working six-day weeks.

    Her doctor gave her prescriptions for back relaxants and pain killers, and she had it filled at the local pharmacy before returning home.

    After she got home she took a Tylenol 3 and got into a warm bath. The pain seemed to worsen. She got out of the bath and stood, trying to find a comfortable position, when she suddenly experienced an urge to bear down and push. She was astonished to see a tiny head appear and in a split second my newest grandchild was born. Staying calm, Melissa made her way to the telephone and phoned me. "Mom, you had better come down here. I just had a baby!" I could hear the weak cries of a baby or I would have thought that she was kidding me. I threw the phone down and jumped up, telling my husband, "We have to get down to Melissa's. She just had a baby!" "She had a WHAT?" he replied, as we dashed out the door. Running as fast as I could, with my husband behind me and our son Gary behind him, I burst through Melissa's door. There she stood with a wee, tiny baby in her hands. "What do I do now?" she said.

    There started a sequence of events that seem to blur in my mind, they happened so fast. The phone call to 911, Melissa's dad Carl relaying instructions to me, as Melissa lay on her bed holding this precious little life, wrapping the baby, keeping Melissa warm, tying the umbilical cord and waiting for the ambulance. I think the only time I came close to panicking was when I was told to get a shoelace and tie the umbilical cord and for some odd reason I thought it should be new and sterile for this brand-new baby. (And, of course, we all keep new packages of shoelaces in just the right strategic spots!) My daughter had to instruct me to go into the bathroom and pull one out of her shoe.

    It seemed the ambulance would never get there, but it finally did and because I had tied the umbilical cord (finally) the ambulance attendants gave me the privilege of cutting it.

    I had heard of women who had given birth and not known they were pregnant, and I never imagined that happening in our family. But holding this little four pound, eight-ounce baby boy wrapped in a towel, and looking down into his sweet, wide open eyes, it didn't matter that he had come with no warning, no planning and no preparation. He was part of me and I loved him fiercely.

    Our family and friends here in Beaver Harbour called him a miracle baby and I truly believe he is. My husband and I came home from the Saint John Regional Hospital that night and I lay awake for hours imagining everything that could have gone wrong but didn't.

    Living in a small community such as Beaver Harbour, news travels very fast and it was not long before family, friends and even strangers knew the amazing story. The generosity of people who knew that Melissa had nothing prepared for a baby was astounding. The baby equipment, clothing, and donations poured in.

    Our family and neighbors arranged for a baby shower while the baby was still in the neonatal unit in Saint John struggling to gain weight. Her coworkers at Heritage Salmon Ltd. in Blacks Harbour took up a collection of money for her. We were so grateful.

    I formed a special bond with Christopher in the first seconds after he was born. Holding him while the ambulance attendants settled Melissa in the vehicle, I held and rocked him and told him things would be all right.

    Melissa's father Carl told her that he wants nine months' warning to prepare the next time, not nine seconds. But he loves that little boy and is as proud of him as he was his own children.

    And on Sunday as we celebrate our 24th wedding anniversary, we will also be celebrating grandparents day with joyous hearts and many thanks that our new grandson is home, healthy, and a blessing to our family.


Melissa (Mel) & Christopher (June 29th, 2005)
Neo-Natal Unit, Saint John Regional Hospital.
Photo Courtesy of Charlene Beney.

SOURCE: New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal (September 10, 2005).

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First Birthday
Mel & Christopher (2006).
Photo Courtesy of Charlene Beney.

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