Eager to arrive, baby forces parents-to-be on a detour

Arundel dad delivers daughter at roadside on way to hospital

December 05, 2006|By Bradley Olson | Bradley Olson,Sun reporter

The contractions were mild when Stephanie Griffith awoke in her Odenton home at 5:30 a.m. yesterday.

And they remained mild for the next 45 minutes, as her husband, Russ, called the doctor and made other preparations to go to the hospital. On the way there, Stephanie figured she'd call her mother-in-law and maybe a few friends.

But the baby had other ideas, arriving at breakneck speed in the car on the shoulder of Route 32.

"You need to pull over and call 911," Stephanie remembers saying. "You're going to have to deliver her."

"Are you serious?" her husband asked.

"Yes, I'm serious," she said. "I can feel her head."

By the time Russ pulled to the side of Route 32 about a half-mile north of Route 3 in Gambrills and called 911 about 6:30 a.m., little Emma Louise's head was halfway out.

Tony Oles, a dispatcher for Anne Arundel County, coached Russ through the short birth, warning him to get a good grip on the baby because she would probably be slippery.

With one push, out came the whole head, and with another, he was suddenly holding his 8-pound, 12-ounce girl with blue eyes and dark hair. Oles told Russ to use his shirt to keep Emma warm and clean her, and to rub her back so she would cry, a technique to make sure newborns breathe.

"And then the cavalry came," said Russ, 34, who works in the information technology security field.

A fleet of emergency personnel arrived on the scene, including police, fire trucks and an ambulance, "all for the three of us," Stephanie said later from her bed at Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis. She and the baby rode in the ambulance while Russ followed.

"It went as smoothly as it possibly could have," said Stephanie, 35. "There were no complications or anything like that."

Fire Chief Stuart McNicol, spokesman for the county Fire Department, said such deliveries occur two or three times a year, much less than in the past, thanks to advances in prenatal care.

The rest of the day in the hospital was a blur for the Griffiths, divided among visits from grandparents, conversations with reporters and much-needed sleep. A highlight was the visit from the Griffiths' 2-year-old son, Joshua, who brought his new sister a Thomas the Tank Engine balloon and a handful of potato chips.

Joshua's birth took seven hours, Stephanie said, and if she had to choose between her son's more traditional arrival and her daughter's early-morning surprise, she would take the surprise, hands down.

"We knew it would be fast, but we didn't think it would be like that," she said. "Still, it's better than hours and hours. That's not very comfortable."

bradley.olson@baltsun.com

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