PARIS – Knowing she would never make it to the hospital before her baby was born, Danielle Appleby settled down on her couch and let her next-door-neighbor and the baby’s father take over.
“I wasn’t really worried,” Appleby, 26, said. “I had the feeling that between the three of us, we would be all right.”
Make that five, and include a baby who wasn’t going to wait and an Oxford County dispatcher who gave instructions by phone. The others: The father, John Shannon, and neighbor Kimberly Davidson.
Baby Mariah Mae Shannon arrived within minutes of Appleby’s water breaking, at 4:37 a.m. Monday in Appleby and Shannon’s Paris apartment.
After it became clear to the parents that the baby did not have time for an ambulance trip and professional medical staff, Shannon pounded on the wall that separates his Oak Avenue apartment from Davidson’s apartment.
A long-time friend, Davidson had asked the couple to call her when Appleby’s water broke so she could watch Appleby’s other child, James, who is 5, while Appleby and Shannon went to the hospital.
But when Davidson walked through the door, she realized her responsibilities would be far greater than just baby-sitting.
“She was having contractions,” Davidson, 25, said. “I turned around to get her a glass of water and the baby’s head was half-way out when I came back.”
In 10 minutes and three pushes, the baby slid out and onto a pillow case that Davidson had ready.
“It was the longest 10 minutes of my entire life,” Davidson said, who admitted she was wracked with anxiety during the process. Although she’s a certified nursing assistant and in college to become a medical assistant, she had no midwifery experience. And her own son had been born with a cord around his neck, so she was intimate with some of the hazards of giving birth.
“Being a mom myself, your natural instincts kick in,” Davidson said. “It’s like being in any emergency situation; you do what you gotta do.”
Mariah Mae is healthy, although three weeks early. She weighs 6 pounds, 3 ounces, and only had some bruising around her face from slipping out so quickly, Appleby said.
The dispatcher, Terri Littlehale, not knowing right off that Davidson was there, coached Shannon by telling him to keep his hand on the baby’s crown and to push. But when Littlehale overheard Shannon passing on the verbal instructions to Davidson, she chided him for making the mother do all the work.
“You can’t have her do it. You have to do it,” Shannon said Littlehale told him, smiling as he recounted the story.
The Oxford County dispatchers typically handle one such birth per year. They are trained to give birthing instructions over the phone.
After the baby was born, Davidson said she “gave a big sigh of relief” and wiped the baby’s nose and mouth, and then placed her on Appleby’s stomach. Seconds later, the ambulance team arrived to cut the umbilical cord and take the mom and newborn to Bridgton Hospital, where they were resting Monday.
Saying again she never doubted everything would go well, Appleby was reminded, though, of a minor inconvenience to a home delivery.
“We do need a new couch now,” she said.