As the eldest child, 12-year-old Gaelan Edwards bears a lot of grown-up responsibilities. He looks after his younger siblings, playing with Gage, 2, and Rhianna, 1, in the backyard so their mother can cook dinner undisturbed, and he changes and throws away their used diapers.
And now he’s even delivered another little brother.
Gaelan, who lives in Campbell River, had been watching a movie about showgirls on television at about 2 a.m. on Sunday morning, when his pregnant mother, Danielle Edwards, 30, woke up in labour and shouted for him.
One quick peek and Gaelan knew he had to act. The baby’s head was already showing.
He said he thought at the time, “Is the baby going to break his neck [if I don’t catch it]? What am I going to do?” But it turns out he handled the situation exactly right.
“Everything is going to be okay,” he told his mother.
Gaelan, covered with blood and amniotic fluid up to his elbows, rested the baby’s head on his forearms as his mother pushed. He pulled the baby out by the shoulders and, without having to be told by his mother, ran to the kitchen to grab a pair of scissors and a clean paper-bag clamp. Returning to his mother’s room, he helped her push out her placenta and clamped and cut the umbilical cord. He then wrapped his crying baby brother in a blanket, called a friend of his mother’s, and washed up. It was all over in 20 minutes.
Ms. Edwards, now a mother of five children (she has another son Rowan, 9), said she was astonished at her eldest son’s calm demeanour. Gaelan has always been amazing with children, she said, but a home delivery is definitely not something she ever thought he would have to do.
“I asked him afterwards, ‘Where do you get these instincts?’ and he said, ‘Mom, I thought my baby brother was going to die,’” she said on Tuesday. “He wasn’t squeamish at all, he just automatically reacted because the No. 1 thing was making sure his baby brother was safe.”
Asked the question again on Tuesday, after coming home from a bike ride, Gaelan said he learned from reading medical books, and watching hospital shows on TV. The seventh grader said he does “pretty good in school,” loves to read, is always curious about how things work and wants to be a doctor one day.
“You know, when a baby is born, they’re supposed to cry,” he said matter-of-factly, as he described the way his new baby brother, Caynan, was squealing. “It means they’re a healthy baby.”
Caynan had been two days overdue, but is healthy at 7 pounds 9 ounces, Ms. Edwards said.
Gaelan said he felt “pretty cool,” holding his new brother as soon as he was born. But thinking back to that tense Sunday morning, when he was forced to take on the role of a midwife, he laughed boyishly, “Yeah it was pretty gross. The room smelled funny and the baby was squishy. I washed my hands with an entire bar of soap.”
And if he had to do it again?
“Next time, I’m wearing a plastic glove.”