Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 18/12/2009 (3621 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Isaiah Russell Daniel Jaevon Richard was born to a mother who didn't know she was pregnant.
Despite some evidence to the contrary, Heather Richard says she's ready to be a good mom.
Richard, 32, was oblivious to the child growing inside her. She says a doctor once told her she couldn't get pregnant. Her periods have always been irregular.
If it hadn't been for two police officers who came to arrest her, her child would have died.
It's not unheard-of for a woman not to know she's pregnant. According to a Maclean's magazine article, studies show that one in every 2,500 pregnant women have no idea they're carrying.
If they have irregular periods, are carrying extra weight (she's not obese but is heavy) or have a small baby (Isaiah was under five pounds) it's possible not to know.
Richard did seek medical attention during her pregnancy. She often felt unwell. Once, she was told she had acid reflux. The next time she was told she had a gallstone. She was told later what she was feeling was her son's foot.
The day she gave birth she was in bed at her boyfriend's house. Her water broke.
"We had intercourse," she says. "All of a sudden I felt a gush and I thought, 'Oh (expletive). I pissed myself.' "
She cleaned up and took the bus back to her Flora Avenue house. It's a duplex. The front windows are covered in sheets of plywood. She shares the three-bedroom home with her mother and three brothers.
Richard got home shortly after 11 Sunday morning. She jumped into the shower thinking that would help her severe stomach cramps.
At 11:30, she got into bed.
Half an hour later, she took a bath.
"I thought I had to crap," she says. "I could feel something hard in my belly. I thought, 'Oh my God that's a big crap.' "
At 1:20, she went to call an ambulance for her pain but had to rush back to the bathroom.
"I thought, 'What the (expletive).' I didn't know it was a baby. I thought it was my intestines. When I looked closer I saw that it was my baby. His head was in the water."
She tilts her head to demonstrate. The baby's mouth and nose were clear of the toilet water.
"I yelled for Dwayne (her 15-year-old brother). 'Come and get my baby out of the toilet!'"
He was no help.
"He froze. He's like 'Eff that.' "
In a made-for-the-movies moment, two police officers came to the door. Richard was wanted on a outstanding warrant for theft.
They heard her screaming, ran down the hall to the bathroom and saved Isaiah's life.
He had a small skull fracture from hitting the bowl.
"Instead of arresting me, they saved me."
By 1:45, she and her baby were in an ambulance. She pushed out the placenta at 2 p.m.
Heather Richard doesn't work. She's been on social assistance for years. She was a ward of CFS, handed over because her mother couldn't control her.
When she turned 18, they reconciled and lived together again.
Although she graduated from R.B. Russell High School, she was never able to pull her life together.
"I was a wild child," she says. "I had a rough life because I chose to live it that way."
She's been in jail.
"I don't remember my first offence."
Whatever it was, she says, it involved violence against other people. She says she hasn't done anything like that in years.
She's done odd jobs, just not recently.
When she was younger, she had a serious infection that was left untreated. It led to internal scarring. That's when a doctor said she'd never have a child.
She eventually did get pregnant three times but miscarried every time. She blames that on her former drinking and drugging days.
She denies substance abuse during her most recent pregnancy. She smoked and still does.
The nurses have told her that the baby weighed so little at birth because she wasn't taking proper care of herself during her pregnancy.
She knows that she needs to drink milk and eat more fruits and vegetables. But that sort of diet is expensive. When there are three strapping boys in the house it's hard to keep food in the fridge.
She sits in her tidy kitchen, crossing arms marked with home-inked tattoos across her chest.
Her milk is starting to come in and she's sore.
She has fanned out photos of her baby on the table. They were taken with her cellphone camera. Isaiah has a shock of dark hair and bright eyes. He's tiny, although he was full term.
Everyone in her family has been to visit the miracle baby. He's in an incubator with a feeding tube. Wednesday night, Richard planned to start expressing her milk so it could be squirted in Isaiah's mouth with a syringe.
She hopes to breastfeed as soon as possible. The nurses have taught her to cradle her little boy to her chest, offering him the security of a mother's touch.
One person who isn't at the hospital is Isaiah's father. He didn't take well to the unexpected child.
"I don't want nothing to do with him," she says. "He loved me Saturday. Come Sunday he didn't want nothing to do with me."
She has had her ex banned from the hospital.
This baby and his mother have got more than three strikes against them. Still, Richard says she's going to make it work.
She's choosing to see her son as a message from her late grandmother.
"I think it's a gift from her to straighten me out. I've always been the wild one. Now I have a baby. I can't believe he's mine.
"Since Sunday I've never felt so grown up."
She knows it's going to be rough. She had no time to prepare a nursery, to buy diapers or sleepers. She gets $80 from welfare every two weeks for her personal expenses. While that figure will go up once Isaiah's home from hospital, she's starting with nothing.
"Hell, I'm scared. I've never been scared of anything in my life. Had I known I was pregnant it would have been different."
She's still confident.
"Of course we're going to make it. That's my angel."