OTTAWA - It will be the most important delivery of Craig Savill's life, but it's not happening on ice.
The former world champion and his wife Karen Cumberland are expecting a baby boy the first week of January. Just as Savill's curling team is known for being unorthodox (pink brooms, loud shirts, numbered jerseys), so too is the birth of his first child straying from the beaten (slide) path.
Savill and Cumberland's pediatrician friends suggested they use a midwife to assist with the birth. Savill's front-end mate Brent Laing and his former wife Leah had also used a midwife.
"It was a big influence on us, for sure," says Cumberland.
"Using a midwife would be a good approach, considering the fact that Craig is a curler and how much he was going to be away. With a midwife, you typically get some more focused care. Rather than a 10-minute appointment, you have a 45-minute appointment and there's all kinds of aftercare."
Cumberland has been seeing her midwife, Jan Teevan, since May at the clinic where Teevan works.
"It's a very nice, cozy setup there. They do the same testing and heart monitoring and everything you would do in a doctor's office. They liaise for any medical stuff for you."
Teevan visited Savill and Cumberland's house on Monday in preparation for aftercare.
Cumberland says reaction to news she is using a midwife isn't always positive.
"You have to deal with a bit of stigma," she explains. "You know, people thinking that you are dealing with some sort of witchy woman."
Savill's mother Dale, however, has no such concerns.
"Craig's mom came (to the clinic) and was extremely impressed," Cumberland says. "She said that it was way more professional and intense than she expected."
Midwife services are covered by OHIP. In fact, the Ontario health ministry says the service cuts the costs of delivering a baby considerably.
Two midwife staff -- and Savill -- will be present in a Montfort Hospital delivery room for the natural birth.
"If anything looks like it's going to be complicated, then the physician comes in and they work together as a partnership," the mom-to-be explains.
John Morris' mom Maureen will also be there.
"Maureen and I are quite close, and she's a nurse," says Cumberland.
"It would be good to have her as a support to me and Craig. Should I have one of those 48-hour labours, they can sort of tag team a little bit."
Cumberland says her husband was concerned about whether she had everything she needed before he left for last week's Swiss Chalet National Grand Slam event in Vernon, B.C. But she says she's not fazed by his demanding travel schedule.
"I had to know when I married him what I was getting into, and having had the experience of getting to know the other curling wives like Maureen and Margaret Hart (Richard's wife) and Judy Howard (Glenn's spouse), you sort of see that it's not easy and I knew that. I'm not expecting him to change anything, but I think I know if I asked him to he would, so I don't need him to prove that."
Of course, once the new addition to the family arrives, their work is just beginning.
"We have to be prepared to be parents, too," Cumberland says. "You can get too focused on the delivery and sort of forget that we have to take this baby home."
How is all this affecting Christmas?
"It's sort of bringing things back to basics for us," Cumberland says. "Just the visiting and sharing in this wonderful joy with other people certainly has made this Christmas very special."
Cumberland can't say enough about the goodwill of her friends in curling.
"I feel so much support. That's the curling community. The mother of our archrival is coming in to help deliver this baby. It's a testament to what makes the curling community so special. It is genuinely a group of people so passionate about a sport, but care about each other."