A baby born on an airplane last week made international headlines, and she may soon become a resident of Penticton.
“The [parents] do want to eventually move back here I think,” said Sandra Branch, the baby’s grandmother and a resident of Penticton. “But right now they’ve got to get organized; buy all the baby stuff and try to get into a better place.”
Wes Branch and his girlfriend Ada Guan were gifted plane tickets from Calgary to Tokyo, which they boarded last week. While it’s been the subject of disbelief, the couple was completely unaware of Guan’s pregnancy. But by the time their 10-hour flight had landed, the family of two had become three.
Once they landed in Asia, Wes immediately phoned home to share the news with his mother.
“It was a scary phone call for one thing – when the phone rings at 11 p.m. you think the worst, and I knew that my son would be arriving in Japan around that time,” Sandra said. “When I heard his voice and he just said, ‘Mom, mom, I got something to tell you mom’.”
Sandra said she was in tears and asked if he was okay.
“My husband was beside me and asked what was going on and Wes said, ‘You’re a grandma, and Ada had a baby’.”
Sandra said the two visited Penticton just three weeks ago from their home in Victoria, and Ada didn’t appear to be expecting a baby.
“She maybe had gained a little bit of weight around her waist area but nothing that would make someone say ‘oh my goodness, you’re pregnant.’”
Despite not having a reason to suspect a pregnancy, Sandra still lectured them over starting a family during the recent visit.
“They have two cats and I was saying, two cats are enough right now, and they both said the same thing, ‘oh definitely, we’re not at all thinking about having children’.”
Sandra told them they had a far greater chance of winning the lottery than experiencing what they did.
To help with the barrage of expenses that a newborn brings, the couple are pleading for support through a crowdfunding website. As the story being shared with a global audience, many negative comments were casted over the webpage, generally accusing the couple of fabricating the story; making poor decisions; and being greedy.
“That’s kind of upset them,” Sandra said. “They’re both very emotional kids. They just didn’t ask for this, they were just thrown into it.”
Nearing the end of the flight, Ada thought she had come down with a stomach bug. Given pain killers and hooked up to an IV, she began experiencing strong pains in the stomach that couldn’t be alleviated. She told Wes she felt something come out of her, and he looked down to find his daughter’s head – his first indication that he would be a dad.
Once they arrived in Tokyo, Wes, Ada and Chloe were taken to a hospital in Narita.
“They treated them like gold, thankfully it wasn’t an undeveloped country they were forced to land in.”
As Japanese media snapped pictures of the three, Wes was seen wearing a classic Vancouver Canucks baseball cap. Air Canada offered a congratulatory message on Twitter of Happy Mother’s Day.
Chloe’s arrival altered their tourism plans. Wes downsized their hotel and moved closer to the Canadian Embassy, where Chloe was issued a birth certificate and temporary passport.
“They’ve been holed up in a hotel and haven’t seen any of Japan at all,” Sandra said. “It’s sad – that’s a long ways to go to be sitting in a hospital and hotel room and to go through what they went through.”
Chloe was born weighing seven pounds and five ounces. Her first name was a favourite of her mothers, and her middle name, Grace, comes from her great-grandmother (Sandra’s mother-in-law).
Sandra said the couple is seeking better accommodations. Wes moved from Penticton to Victoria in 2013, and met Guan last June. Sandra said they’re expected to arrive home towards the end of this weekend.
To support the family through their crowdfunding page, visit goo.gl/FsZsIs. An account for donations has also been set up at BMO, branch #001-07360 and the account number is 8963691.