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Woman goes in for a massage, comes out with a baby
18 Nov 2011
Sarah Salewich poses with daughter Eden.
Dim lighting, soothing music in the background, warm linen and a calm and reassuring supporting cast. It all added up to a memorable birthing experience for Sarah Salewich with her new daughter, Eden Asha Elizabeth.
Except it didn’t take place in cosy private hospital room, but at a Saskatoon massage clinic.
Sarah says she had a one-hour massage booked for 3 p.m. on Nov. 3 — her due date — with therapist Patricia Cruz at Inside Out Therapies (Yes, I chuckled at that, too) but decided to cut it short to 30 minutes because she felt a bit guilty about her husband, Curtis, cooling his heels outside in the waiting area.
The contraction — and it was a big one that really didn’t go away — hit just as she was starting to get dressed.
There was no stopping things at that stage.
“Sarah, you are having the baby,” Patricia calmly told her. “You are safe, in a safe place. I’m going to get your husband and another therapist to help.”
Sarah says she went from thinking, “Oh no, oh no,” to feeling calm and confident as Curtis joined Patricia and fellow therapist Joanne Clifford in preparing for Eden’s imminent arrival.
While Curtis was making calls on two phones — to 911, to Sarah’s mom, and to their midwife, Debbie Mpofu — to explain what was happening, clinic staff got busy with warming up towels and linens, and providing water and warm pillows to make sure Sarah was comfortable.
The contraction started around 3:35 p.m., Sarah says. By 4 p.m., she was cuddling the healthy, crying pink baby who simply couldn’t wait to join the world, and made her entrance before the ambulance crew arrived.
Patricia, who admits she remained “awestruck” on Thursday — even two weeks after the experience — says she couldn’t believe just how calm Sarah remained through it all, as Curtis was on the phone with emergency workers talking him and Clifford through the delivery.
Sarah offers kudos to the ambulance paramedics, who she says were very respectful as they checked over things to make sure she and the baby were OK. “They were not invasive, and very supportive of us, and didn’t have to stay very long because things were good,” she says.
Sarah also can’t say enough good things about the two therapists who helped, and clinic co-owner Zoe Stiglitz, who had been at lunch across the street and returned when she saw the ambulance arrive, only to learn that someone had just given birth inside. Stiglitz was highly complimentary of the therapists and was more than happy to help, instead of being upset at any disruption caused at the clinic, Sarah says.
She agrees with the yoga instructor who came into the room and observed that such non-typical birth can “scare you or empower you.” For her this was an empowering experience, and one she won’t soon forget.
“I’m not kidding myself that things could have gone differently,” she says. For instance, she could have been driving when it happened, or at another business not as prepared or willing to deal with the situation.
“How do you thank someone who delivers your child? It gives me a whole new perspective on relationships. These are very special people.”
Perhaps it’s just coincidence that Sarah also had received a massage from Patricia three years ago on the day that her son, Isaiah, was born, or it could be that the therapist has just the right touch. In any case, Patricia says the clinic staff consider themselves “all very fortunate to witness and experience this birth.”
What she finds remarkable is how serene Sarah remained through the whole experience, with as many as nine people crowded into the tiny massage room at times. “It was pretty much a party in there. No one would know she’d just given birth,” Patricia said.
And even though the clinic wasn’t particularly busy that day, allowing mom and baby some quiet time afterward, Patricia was astounded that Sarah even took the time to stop in at a pre-natal yoga class with Eden to share her story.
In for a massage at 3 p.m., and out of the clinic and at home by 7 that night with a new daughter. Not bad for a short afternoon of labour and a lifetime of memories.