“I was holding my two-hour-old baby and life as I knew it flashed before my eyes.”
For many, delivering their child unexpectedly on the bathroom floor is enough shock for one night. Unfortunately for Will and Courtney Gault, their night was far from over.
On January 24, 2020, Courtney woke up just after 2 AM with severe cramping and rapid contractions. Without any time to spare, Courtney and Will made it to their bathroom and, mere pushes later, the Gaults’ second daughter, Taylor, was born.
“We were both in shock—there was so much blood. I was on the phone with a 911 operator until help arrived. We didn’t know if Taylor was breathing,” recalls Will.
They instructed Will to tie the umbilical cord, but they couldn’t prepare him for what would come next.
Within minutes a fire truck, a medical supervisor, and two ambulances arrived—one for Courtney and one for Taylor. Courtney’s parents arrived shortly after; her father stayed to watch their first daughter, Ireland, and her mom—a labour and delivery nurse for 20 years and a nurse for 40—rushed to help Courtney and Taylor.
“Despite the shock of the unexpected delivery and the loss of blood, everything seemed surprisingly normal at this point,” says Will.
The ambulance with Taylor and Courtney’s mom departed to HSC Women’s Hospital first, with Courtney’s ambulance following. Will trailed Courtney’s ambulance in his car.
About 10 minutes into the drive, the sirens on Courtney’s ambulance turned on and they started speeding towards HSC. Figuring that this was some sort of protocol, Will remained calm as he made his way to the hospital.
Upon arriving and registering at triage, Will heard a series of codes and announcements on the intercom. Having worked as a hospital security guard in the past, Will understood the hospital codes. “I could hear them paging an anesthesiologist to the operating room. Little did I know that the urgent call was for my wife,” says Will.
Will met his mother-in-law where Taylor was being assessed. Relief set in—but only momentarily—as he held his healthy newborn.
“I was beginning to wonder where Courtney was when a doctor came and told us that Courtney had lost a lot of blood; she had severe hemorrhaging and they were trying to stabilize her,” recalls Will.
He learned that his wife had been resuscitated twice, intubated, and would be rushed to the ICU if she didn’t improve quickly. “I was holding my two-hour-old baby and life as I knew it flashed before my eyes. I realized that my wife may not make it,” says Will.
Will waited with Taylor and his mother-in-law for what felt like an eternity before the doctor came to tell them they had stabilized Courtney and that she will be okay. About an hour later, Courtney, who was hooked up to oxygen and an IV, was wheeled out by a medical team of an obstetrician-gynecologist, a resident doctor, and an anesthesiologist.
“I thanked them profusely,” says Will. “The doctor said, ‘It was all the anesthesiologist next to me—he saved your wife’s life.’”
Although stable, Courtney wasn’t cleared to go home just yet. She developed a blood clot and needed to have a clot-busting drug injected into her stomach and remained at HSC until she was well enough to continue to take her medicine at home.
“Those four days were tough,” recalls Will. “Ireland, who was two at the time, is deaf and takes her cochlear implants out to sleep. She didn’t hear anything that happened that night and had a hard time understanding where her mom was.”
At last, Courtney was discharged to continue to heal at home and remained on blood thinners for six months. Aside from Taylor having jaundice for her first 36 hours, she is a strong, healthy baby.
“We are so thankful and blessed to be living in a city with top-notch health care and the best medical professionals. We were given the ultimate gift and can’t express enough gratitude to the medical team working at HSC Women’s Hospital on January 24, 2020,” says Will.
On this Mother’s Day, HSC salutes Courtney Gault and all Manitoba moms for the sacrifices they make and for the love they share. Help HSC support the health of moms with a gift to the HSC Foundation. To make your gift, please click here or call 204-515-5612.
By Natasha Havrilenko