The Shively family

Perils of being pregnant in Burns Lake

Expectant mothers have to travel extensively during final weeks of pregnancy.

In the next few months the Lakes District News will be showcasing stories of women having babies, or who’ve had babies and what obstacles they’ve encountered.

Alyssa, Madyson, Gabriel, Isabelle and Katie-Ray have given Jessica Shively a unique perspective on what it is like to be a woman expecting a baby in Burns Lake.

“It definitely has its difficulty,” said Jessica, who also has a 13-year-old son named Caleb with her husband Ryan. “It’s fine right up until about the 30-week mark when you have to start seeing the doctor [who] you’re going to deliver with because you have to obviously leave town for these appointments [and] you have to leave town for the ultrasound appointments, so you’re going to either Smithers, Prince George or, in my case this most recent time, Vanderhoof and that can depend on how your pregnancy goes.”

Jessica said her three-month-old daughter Katie-Ray required her to go visit an out-of-town doctor three times, but the complicated pregnancy she experienced with twins Gabriel and Isabelle three years earlier was quite different. She said the higher risk twins’ pregnancy saw her switching from a doctor in Prince George to a doctor in Smithers who then suggested she stay in Edmonton due to being dilated at 29 weeks.

“I spent five weeks in Edmonton seeing doctors there, then I came home to Burns Lake for about a week and then they sent me to Prince George for the following three weeks before I delivered,” she said, noting this was done because of the likelihood she would go into labour early. “It was frustrating.”

At the time Jessica had three children already, including one in school, who had to be cared for and her stay in Prince George saw her reside in Ronald McDonald House that wouldn’t allow her kids to stay with her. She said her husband then had to work around his electrical contractor schedule to look after the kids all by himself.

Jessica said hormone and stress levels during pregnancy are already at either an all-time high or low and this inconvenience certainly added to the ordeal. She said the necessity to see so many different doctors as well as the travels to different villages, towns and cities through going to the many appointments also contributed to her worries.

“It would be nice to just stick with one doctor and know your doctor and feel confident that doctor is going to do a good job,” said Jessica. “It definitely is stressful having to meet a new doctor all the time.”

Alyssa, 8, and Madyson, 6, were the two children Jessica had in the Burns Lake hospital before staff departures at the facility forced the cancellation of high risk births. A new maternity ward is scheduled to open in the Burns Lake hospital this January, but she said that doesn’t help solve the current problem because a maternity ward doesn’t deal in complicated births such as C-sections and pregnant women would still be turned away.

“From what I understand if there’s not going to be an operating room here [and] I mean the maternity ward [is] great and it would be lovely, but you need that backup system,” said Jessica. “You can’t have one without the other.”