Vernon mom comes close to death after living room birth | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Vernon mom comes close to death after living room birth

Ashley Stevenson came close to death delivering her second surrogate child last week.


VERNON - Ashley Stevenson went to the doctor the day before her third child was born and discussed inducing labour since Valentina appeared not to be in any rush to be born. But that was about to change dramatically, putting her life in danger twice, all for a child she knew she wouldn't keep.

"It was about 3:45 a.m. and my water broke," Stevenson says. "And not just a little bit, but a 'jolt-me-awake' water-break.’"

Stevenson's son was staying with his grandparents and her partner, Jordan Hammer, wasn't there so Stevenson was alone in her apartment. She called Hammer and within about five minutes of her water breaking, her contractions started, "and they were not little ones," she adds.

With no time to waste she decided to drive herself to the hospital, but after just three steps outside to the car she quickly changed her mind. Back inside her apartment, she called 911.

“Contractions were right on top of each other at this point and I was getting scared I would be delivering this baby on my own."

Stevenson said the 911 dispatch told her the ambulance got a bit lost trying to find her apartment and Hammer arrived at the same time the ambulance did. In her relief, Stevenson burst into tears.

Ashley Stevenson and baby Valentina.
Ashley Stevenson and baby Valentina.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Ashley Stevenson

A plan to transport her to Vernon Jubilee Hospital was quickly abandoned when all parties realized there was no time for it.

"I remember letting out a blood-curdling scream,” Stevenson says. "I was definitely in lots of pain, but in that moment I was just focussed on delivering that baby safely… I wasn't thinking 'oh my God this hurts' I was thinking, 'oh my God I've got to get this baby out safely and make sure she's okay.'"

Moments later Valentina was born on the living room floor, weighing in at 8 lbs. 10 oz. and Stevenson then got to hold baby Valencia on her chest, but overcoming one danger only led to greater peril. After she arrived at the hospital, she lost three litres of blood delivering the placenta, requiring blood transfusions and many tense moments where the outcome was uncertain.

All this for an act of selflessness that almost cost Stevenson her life. She is a surrogate and Valentina, her second surrogate child and third total, will go to a family in Spain.

"I guess I hadn't quite understood the gravity of the situation," Stevenson says a week later. It was only when her family doctor explained it a few days how serious her condition was.

"I brought this beautiful little girl into the world and I don't regret that at all," she says. “We surrogates do this and we do this to help people have families and it's an amazing experience for everyone involved.”

Having a surrogate child isn't a decision she made lightly, but adds: “Sometimes we forget the risk that we're taking."

The 27-year-old Vernon resident, who has a six-year-old son, gave birth to her first surrogate child two years ago and her second surrogate child, Valentina, Aug. 14. She's modest about being a surrogate mother and admits she doesn't know what to say when people tell her it's a selfless thing to do.

She says she does it to help families have children if they can't. The experience is different than what people often think.

"People always say giving the baby away must be so hard, but it's actually the easy part because it's not my baby."

The Assisted Human Reproduction Act makes it illegal in Canada to receive payment for being a surrogate mother. The law does allow expenses to be paid, but the conditions are strict and can only cover out-of-pocket costs directly related to the pregnancy.

Baby Valentina was born using the sperm of a single gay man and a donor egg. Valentina's father Ricardo — Stevenson will only use his first name — travelled from Spain to have Stevenson carry his baby. The laws in Spain, not unlike many other countries, are complicated around surrogacy but the effect is often the same: They must look elsewhere for surrogates.

Stevenson says he'll return to Spain soon and she'll maintain a relationship with Valentina via Skype over the years to come. Kind of like an aunt, she says. She also has a trip planned to Barcelona in the fall to see Valentina and Ricardo.

She says she "cannot put into words" how amazing the hospital staff and paramedics who helped her were.

"They were so full of kindness and compassion," she says. "Those kind of people you can tell are just genuinely good people."

Sitting in a Vernon cafe just one week later it's hard to believe what Stevenson went through just a matter of days ago.

"I was so very close to leaving my son without a child and my spouse without a partner, to help someone else have a child, so today I'm left with all these feelings of this crazy birth."

And how does she feel?

"I feel lucky that I got to help someone have a baby," she says.

Will she do it again?

She barely hesitates before saying "yes."

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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