Steamboat mom grateful to lifesaving docs |

Steamboat mom grateful to lifesaving docs

Ona Canady holds her son, Tor, who was born March 17 via an emergency c-section.
Kari Dequine Harden

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — “My son wouldn’t be here with me today,” said Steamboat Springs resident Ona Canady, if not for the speed and skill of the team who met her at the hospital when she arrived in need of an emergency c-section.

Her baby had an umbilical cord prolapse — the cord was coming out ahead, pinched against his head and preventing him from getting oxygen.

Most of the babies in Tor’s circumstances die, said Dr. Mary Bowman, an obstetrician/gynecologist at UCHealth Women’s Care Clinic and the doctor who performed the emergency surgery. “Even if someone is in the hospital, the baby can die.” Babies are very resilient, she said, but when the cord is compromised, “it is a short window of time that we have.”

Canady has a list of about 15 doctors and nurses who were there before, during and after her surgery.

“I’m so grateful that every one of those people were there that day,” she said. “And that everyone was so on point. Words can’t express my gratitude.”

It was an example of ideal teamwork, said Tracey Fortson, a registered nurse and director of inpatient services at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center. “When everything comes together and works exactly how we were trained to work.”

Aidan Canady delivers homemade cookies to registered nurses Susan Engle, left, and Joanne Lewis, second from left, as a thank you for the care they and everyone at UCHealth Birth Center in Steamboat Springs delivered to her newest little brother, Tor. Ona Canady, right, delivered Tor on March 17 via emergency c-section.
Courtesy photo

Canady’s other son, William, was born at home after a labor that lasted about 30 minutes. She anticipated a similar delivery for Tor.

But then, her water broke around 4 a.m. on St. Patrick’s Day — about six weeks before her due date.

She didn’t feel any contractions, so planned to labor at home for a little while.

But according to an app she had downloaded, Canady had been having contractions all night.

So, she and her husband called Dr. Bowman.

Bowman was at home and rushed to the hospital as soon as she hung up with Canady. She knew Canady was early and wanted to be close in case of an emergency.

Canady and her family arrived at the hospital at 4:50 a.m.

Once Canady was hooked up to the monitors, a nurse could see Tor’s heart rate was very low.

Bowman asked the nurse to check Canady’s cervix. That’s when a nurse felt the pinched cord and pushed Tor’s head up to relieve pressure.

They rushed to the operating room, with a nurse holding Tor’s head up inside Canady the entire time. At first, Bowman did not think there was time to wait for an anesthesiologist and told Canady she would only be given a local anesthetic.

“That’s when I panicked,” Canady said. Before that, she was most concerned with reassuring her other two children that she would be okay.

“I couldn’t wait,” Bowman said. “The baby was dying.”

Then the anesthesiologist arrived just in time to put Canady under.

“Less than a minute after I started cutting, the baby was out,” Bowman said.

At 5:06 a.m., just 16 minutes after his family arrived at the hospital, Tor Cato Canady entered the world.

He had to be resuscitated but, after that, exceeded expectations and spent just over two weeks in the special care nursery.

“Everybody did a spectacular job,” Bowman said. She also commended Canady and her husband. They called when they should have, and they came in right away, she said.

Labor and deliveries frequently involve some type of cord accident, Bowman said. But Canady’s was of the most extreme kind.

“If any of the circumstances had been different, the baby would be dead,” Bowman said.

Fortson said they do drills a few times a year for a situations like Canady’s. They make sure they know where everything is located, which might be needed in such an emergency, and know what to do if the anesthesiologist isn’t there. The goal, she said, is to make sure they can get a baby out within 20 minutes.

Bowman acknowledges many births don’t require assistance from doctors. “But there are horrible, emergent, scary things that happen that are not predictable.” And she wants people to know they are welcome — they are wanted — at the hospital at any hour of any day. “It is never a bother to call us,” she said.

Canady cannot say enough good things about the hospital staff who took care of her and Tor. She also is very grateful for the special care nursery and being able to stay with her baby in Steamboat while he grew strong enough to go home.

Canady said her kids are “over the moon” about their new little brother.

“You’d think I had the baby for her,” she said of her 11-year-old daughter, Aidan.

To reach Kari Dequine Harden, call 970-871-4205, email or follow her on Twitter @kariharden.

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