'I couldn't keep it in': Mom recalls moment 'warrior baby' born in moving ambulance on Saskatoon bridge

Akira Hope Laban was born to mom Rayshell Charles in an ambulance as it crossed Saskatoon's university bridge Tuesday morning.

Rayshell Charles says baby girl had been given only two per cent chance to live

Rayshell Charles with her baby daughter Akira Hope Laban on Wednesday. (Submitted by Rayshell Charles)

All Rayshell Charles could see as she lay in the ambulance were the flower-shaped Christmas decorations hanging from the lamp posts over Saskatoon's University Bridge.

"And I was like, 'I'm almost there, I'm almost there'. I couldn't hold it in anymore," said Charles, whose daughter Akira Hope Laban was born in the ambulance as it crossed the bridge Tuesday morning.

Charles remembers yelling that she was going to push, then the paramedic who was driving called into the back to ask if he needed to stop. 

"Then the other ambulance lady was like 'nope, she's already out, keep going!'" said Charles, laughing as she spoke from Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon on Wednesday. 

K.C. Donahue was the paramedic in the back of the ambulance with Charles. She said there was no time to set up her obstetrics kit because the birth only took about 30 seconds after Charles said she felt the urge to push. 

"I was excited,"

"My thought was just 'catch this baby.'"

While the birth was over in less than a minute, Charles said she had already been on a rough journey with her daughter.

She said a doctor had told her earlier in the pregnancy that the baby girl had only a two per cent chance to live. 

"She's a little fighter, that's for sure," said Charles, who is from La Ronge, Sask. 

Charles found herself in a Prince Albert, Sask., hospital in the 21st week of her pregnancy, after her water broke. 

She was told at the time that her daughter's chances of survival were slim, but said still she had hope. 

At 31 weeks her water broke again and she was sent to Saskatoon. Charles was treated and released to a hotel with some strong antibiotics to take. 

When she started to get contractions early Tuesday morning she thought it was the antibiotics, which had been giving her cramps.

Charles decided to get a cab to the hospital but the pains got worse as she was on her way down to the hotel lobby.

"I was like 'oh my gosh I can't call a cab, I've got to call an ambulance,'" said Charles.

Hotel staff called the paramedics for her. 

The ambulance was crossing a bridge close to the Royal University Hospital but baby Akira couldn't wait to be born. (Steve Pasqualotto/CBC)

Donahue said that when she arrived with another paramedic, she did an initial assessment by asking if Charles's water had broken and if she felt the urge the push, which she did not. 

She said Charles was suddenly ready to push about four minutes into the eight minute drive to the hospital. Akira was born less than a minute later. 

"I checked her, I said 'Oh my gosh I see hair' and before my partner could even pull over I said, I have a baby," said Donahue.

"It was that fast, the little baby girl just wanted to come out into this world."

Donahue said it was the second time she has seen a baby born in an ambulance in her 10 years as a paramedic, and her first time delivering a baby by herself. 

'I can't believe she's here'

Charles was in tears as the paramedics put the baby on her after she was born in the ambulance. 

She sees her daughter as a "warrior baby."

Charles said the baby's father, George Laban, is excited to meet Akira when he arrives from La Ronge on Wednesday. 

Charles said this was her fourth child, so she she knows the drill, but "not like this."

"I'm just overwhelmed and in shock still, I can't believe she's here," said Charles. 

Akira was taken to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit immediately after arriving in hospital. Charles was able to visit and feed her for the first time on Wednesday.

With files from CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning