Towels, a shoelace and a safety pin – these were the items a female voice told Matt Pitcairn, president of the Richmond Chamber of Commerce, to find after he called 9-1-1 from home early Thursday morning to help deliver his baby.
The towels came in handy to catch and wipe down baby Hanalei who arrived within 15 minutes of calling, but Pitcairn never figured out what the shoelace and safety pin were for.
A home birth was not the original plan for the Pitcairn-Tong family, but, after an evening of binge watching Homeland, Vanessa Tong’s water broke and contractions set in at two minutes apart immediately and they knew they wouldn’t make it to Richmond Hospital from their Tsawwassen home.
Pitcairn called the family's midwives and 9-1-1 – help was on its way, but Hanalei Hei-Yuet Tong Pitcairn was in a hurry to come out.
Within minutes the head was crowning and with one push, it was out, and with another, the baby was born.
A couple minutes later, the fire fighters arrived first, followed by paramedics and the family’s two midwives.
While the fire fighters were initially concerned about her colour, the paramedics and midwives assessed Hanalei’s health and the family was able to stay put.
“The best part was we didn’t even have to go to the hospital, we were able to stay in our own room - everyone helped and everyone was great,” Pitcairn said.
With two older boys, four and seven, Pitcairn said this birth was a “surreal” experience but recovery has been the best for his wife this time round.
“It was so chaotic, but looking back on our three births, it was the most special,” he said.
Tong had wanted to have her own mother and perhaps someone to take pictures at the birth, but because of the pandemic, only one person would have been able to come along to the hospital.
Having the baby at home, it became a family event, including Tong’s parents who live in a suite in the same house.
Even their younger son, Sawyer, four, was offering help, rubbing his mother’s back when Pitcairn had to step out for a minute.
“The whole family was there and helping out any way they could,” Pitcairn said.
BC Emergency Health Services dispatchers who help delivering babies receive a stork pin.