Amazing Birth Stories
Amazing Stories of Incredible Births
By Sandra Gordon
When you’re expecting a baby, you do what you can to take control of the experience. You go to your OB/GYN appointments and childbirth classes, take prenatal vitamins and try to eat a healthy diet. Still, there’s always that feeling that Mother Nature’s really the one in charge and you’re just along for the wild ride. Ever wonder what you’d do if your pregnancy or labor suddenly took a surprising turn? That’s what happened to the five women we profile here, who were forced to call upon reservoirs of strength and resourcefulness they never knew they had to bring their babies into the world.
During an early September morning, when flood waters were rising around the homes in the small town of Pine Tops, N.C., due to a rain storm that went on for days, 21-year-old LaTessa Parker had an even bigger problem: She was having minor contractions. Rain or not, her baby was on the way. She decided to take refuge in her grandmother’s home up the street.
Soon, however, the water began to swallow even this formidable structure. “We called the sheriff’s department to tell them that I was in labor, but they couldn’t get us out because they couldn’t drive on the road,” LaTessa says. She and her grandmother decided they had no choice but to leave the house. “We walked in waist-high water to a house farther up the street, where the water was lower. At that point, my contractions weren’t close, but they were coming,” she says. “I was pretty scared.”
By 4 a.m., LaTessa and 20 of her neighbors had taken refuge in the attic of one neighbor’s home while the water level continued to rise. By noon, her contractions were 10 minutes apart. “I was starting to panic,” she says. “I figured I might be giving birth right there in front of all my neighbors. When I looked out the window, I could see that water was covering the street signs.”
Finally, a patrol boat pulled up to the attic window to take LaTessa to an ambulance on dry land a mile away. “It was a huge relief,” she says. But a portion of the road that the ambulance had been on had washed out while LaTessa was being rescued by boat; it was impossible to get back by road to the hospital.
With her contractions coming at five-minute intervals, a helicopter from a local hospital found a place to land. LaTessa was airlifted to the hospital just in time for the birth of her son, Rodriek.
Don’t Try This at Home
Even though Krista Johnson, a 34-year-old scientist at a pharmaceutical company, had been having minor contractions for several hours one September day, she didn’t think her baby was going to born any time soon. “I had similar contractions with my first child — well-spaced and not too dramatic,” Krista says. With the birth of her firstborn, Alexander, Krista had delivered after a full day at the lab.
Nevertheless, this time, she says, “I had a head cold, so I decided to stay home from work.”
And that’s a good thing. By noon, Krista’s contractions timed at about 10 minutes apart, but she still wasn’t nervous; four hours later, however, when her water broke and it was a darkish color, she and her husband, Bill Barnes, decided to head for the hospital.
“Just then, as I was in the bathroom, something fell out of me,” Krista says. Thinking it was the umbilical cord, she quickly got down on the floor. Meanwhile, Bill ever practiced after many years in the Navy, grabbed a telephone and dialed 911. “Within seconds, I heard him say to the 911 guy, ‘No, no. You don’t understand. I see a leg!’” Krista says.
“I was extremely nervous,” Bill says. “But the person at the other end of the phone knew exactly what to do.” Because the baby was holding one leg to his chest, “I had to ease him back in a tiny bit and give a tug,” Bill says.
By the time the paramedics arrived minutes later, Bill had delivered their 9-pound son — with 18-month-old Alexander, terrified, clinging to his leg the whole time. Mother and baby were soon whisked off to the hospital.
An unexpected home birth is dramatic enough, but Joseph Johnson Barnes chose to enter this world feet-first, medically known as a footling breech. (A typical breech baby comes out bottom-first, with his legs tucked up to his chest.) As a rule, these ultra-high-risk babies are delivered by cesarean section. Ironically, when Krista had visited her obstetrician several days before, there was no indication of anything out of the ordinary. After the birth, “my obstetrician said, ‘In 30 years, I’ve never heard of this happening,’” Krista says.