Baby Arrives Quickly – Yet Safely – in the Hospital Lobby
Vienna Hartley was born at 6:15 a.m. on Sept. 26 at Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center – just barely. This little girl was in such a hurry to make her appearance in this world that she was born just inside the front doors of the hospital.
The day started out as normal, said Terry Cady, front door concierge at the hospital, who begins his shift at 5 a.m. All was quiet and calm until an expecting mom arrived with her mother and two little daughters.
“I could tell she was uncomfortable. She asked for a wheelchair, which we had right there,” Cady said. As she was seated, he gave her his usual line that he says to put anxious moms at ease. “I said, ‘We better get you up to labor and delivery, because we don’t do deliveries in the lobby.’”
The mom, Shawna Hartley, gave a polite smile at the comment, but said urgently that this baby is coming right away. Cady immediately walked a few steps away to call the Emergency Department.
By the time he ended the call and walked the few steps back, the baby was already born.
Shawna had been trained in HypnoBirthing®, which employs special breathing techniques and visualization to help moms naturally work with their body during labor. Her body told her that this baby was coming immediately, despite the fact that she was in the hospital entryway.
Cyndee Huesman was watching her two granddaughters, ages 5 and 3, when her daughter calmly yet urgently called to her. Cady and the nearby valets kept a close watch over the little girls.
As Shawna held the head, the baby turned with the labor movements. Cyndee held and watched as the shoulders came into view, and caught the baby as she was born. Shawna immediately held the baby against her chest under a blanket to protect the baby from the cold air, not even knowing yet if it was a boy or a girl. On this cool morning, Shawna had brought the blanket for herself, not having time to put on a coat.
Jordon and Shawna
An Avera Careflight nurse came quickly, and first checked to make sure the baby was breathing. “She hadn’t really cried, but she was making little sounds and breathing,” Shawna said.
After getting the OK, Cady stepped back into action, and wheeled Shawna and the new baby to the Emergency Department, where they were cared for before moving up to the Women’s Center on fourth floor to rest and recover.
From her perspective, Shawna said the adventure began around 5 a.m. when one of her daughters called out, needing to go to the bathroom. Soon after she got up, Shawna felt a couple minor labor surges. Having given birth before and also an ICU nurse herself, Shawna didn’t panic. “I thought I probably had four to five hours.”
Shawna, who recently moved from Sioux Falls to Fairmont, Minn., with her husband, Jordon, had been renting an apartment in Sioux Falls with her mom, waiting for the baby to arrive. She wanted to give birth at Avera McKennan, where she used to work in the ICU, and to keep her same doctor, OB specialist Molly Uhing, MD.
The labor intensified quickly, and so Cyndee quickly drove Shawna and the girls to Avera McKennan.
Cyndee, who lives in Grand Forks, N.D., said it was a surreal experience. “I had been staying with Shawna to take care of the girls. I guess the good Lord had a more important job for me. I didn’t plan on delivering my own grandchild; it’s an experience that will be with me forever. Her calmness kept me calm,” she said of her daughter, Shawna. “She’s the true heroine in this story.”
Shawna called her husband, Jordon, as soon as labor began, and he left Fairmont right away. Unfortunately he didn’t have time to make it to Sioux Falls before the birth, although Shawna kept him updated by phone. After making the two-hour drive, he was happy to meet his healthy and beautiful third daughter.
Jordon credits his mother-in-law and his wife with Vienna’s safe arrival. “I always tell everyone how awesome she is – and she is. It’s amazing how she handled this.”
As for Terry Cady – he hopes that he’ll never have to be involved in another hospital lobby delivery, but he’ll be more prepared if that ever happens. “I usually tell moms that we don’t do deliveries in the lobby – I don’t know if I’m going to be saying that anymore. We crossed that bridge.”