WEAVER — In a car, tailing an ambulance en route to Regional Medical Center, over the phone: “Don’t freak out, but your grandson has been born and I delivered him at home.”
Of course, newborn Emmett Alldredge’s grandparents didn’t believe Kevin, his father, at first. It was early Thursday, and they were sure he was playing a prank. The boy wasn’t due for another week, and Katie, his mother, had experience; she’d already given birth once before, to the couple’s 2-year-old daughter Everleigh. Katie had been in labor for 26 hours that time. With Emmett, it was just four, with light labor and contractions for most of it, culminating in a panicked 20 minutes of childbirth assisted over the phone by a 911 operator.
“We were told not to come to the hospital until the contractions were four minutes apart,” Katie, 25, said Monday, back home after spending Friday and part of Saturday at the hospital. “They were scattered between eight and 10 minutes apart, and kind of close to the end they were still six minutes apart.”
Everleigh woke Katie up around 2 a.m. to ask for water. Katie couldn’t get back to sleep, and realized soon after that she was having contractions. Still, she said, she was looking for several more hours of labor, if the baby was coming at all that day. She and Kevin packed their things, just in case.
Around 5:50 a.m., Katie’s contractions changed suddenly. Kevin started carrying things to the car. Katie realized right away they weren’t going to make it. Kevin called his mother, who came to watch Everleigh.
“It was like a reality check,” Katie said. “I was terrified, but at the same time, ‘we’re gonna do this, we don’t have a choice.’”
At 6:08, Kevin dialed 911.
“By then I’ve settled into the fact he’s going to be born here, but not by me,” Kevin, 25, said. “They’re gonna come and save the day, in my mind.”
Nine minutes later, Emmett was born. Katie pushed only four times, she said; Kevin caught his son and held him. The pair spent the next few minutes listening to the 911 dispatcher explain clearing Emmett’s airways and how to keep blood flowing through the umbilical cord.
Kevin, who works at Anniston Army Depot, said he’s usually squeamish around human blood — he was a butcher without incident for Winn Dixie before the chain closed several of its stores — but he pulled through and deliver Emmett. Katie did the heavy lifting, he admitted, and they both had help from on high to stay calm.
“God was in the room with us the entire time,” Kevin said.
Police and emergency medical technicians arrived at the house minutes later.
“They thought they were showing up to deliver a baby and asked, ‘Where’s the woman in labor?’” Katie recalled.
The EMTs took Katie to the hospital, while Kevin, his mother and Everleigh followed in Kevin’s car.
Calhoun County 911 operator Rena Mosley took the call. She’s answered several calls from pregnant mothers in the past, she said, and usually they’ve got more time than they realize and can get to the hospital. It never happens over the phone, she said, but Mosley had her first child last year, and she knew this call was different.
“When I heard her scream, that’s when I thought, ‘this child is coming,” Mosley said.
She used 911 reference material to ask questions and give guidance during the birth. When she learned the contractions had shortened to just a minute or two each, she said, she had to play it cool with Kevin.
“My heart started racing, but I couldn’t let him know my heart was racing,” Mosley said. “Hearing that baby cry was the biggest relief.”
The whole call lasted about 19 minutes, Mosley said. She stayed on the line until police arrived and then had to disconnect the call, but she congratulated the family first.
Kevin Jenkins, director of Calhoun County 911, said he’d provided a copy of the call to the Alldredge family, at their request, Monday morning. Kevin said he thought he’d asked at least 20 times whether or not an ambulance was incoming; Katie said it was more like twice. The couple hadn’t listened back to the recording yet Monday afternoon.
Both are sure of one thing: If they have another baby, it’s not being delivered at home.
“It’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen and done in my life by far,” Kevin said. “But if we were to have another one, first sight of labor, we’re going to the hospital.”