Special Delivery: Baby Arrives Before Midwife, Emts

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Derek and Kara Brisson of Star Valley were expecting to deliver their third child at home with the assistance of a midwife.

But at 1:59 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9 the first hands baby Elizabeth Anne felt were those of Colleen Hoernke, her maternal grandmother.

"I've always been blessed with very easy pregnancies, easy births and I've always had very long labors, so we weren't expecting her to arrive as quickly as she did," Kara said while rocking 1-week-old Elizabeth.

Kara's labor started at 3:30 a.m. Thursday when painful contractions woke her, but she didn't phone her midwife, who lives in Scottsdale, until 1:30 p.m. Friday.

Just 24 minutes later, after a warm bath to ease her labor pains, she was assisted to the floor of the bathroom by Derek and her mother.

None of them felt prepared to deal with imminent birth.

"It was a huge shock," Kara said. "I was a little nervous, to say the least. Actually it's kind of funny because the Lord worked it out perfectly. I had told Derek to go to work because I thought it was going to be so much longer, so he got home about 15 minutes before the baby was born.

"Then my mom -- I'd asked her to go to the store to get something the midwife would need that I forgot to buy. My friend Beka, who has always been there to help, said ‘Let me go to the store for you instead.' Had my mom gone to the store, I don't know what I would have done."

Her mom sat down to work on a baby afghan and heard Kara call out.

"I thought, something is wrong. That's not Kara. She doesn't lose composure, but when your baby needs you, you've got to do what you've got to do," said Hoernke.

She ran into the bedroom, saw the bathroom door ajar and called out to comfort her daughter.

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"God gave her to us," said Katherine Brisson of her new baby sister, Elizabeth Anne. The family, including brother, William, and dad, Derek, welcomed Elizabeth into the world in the comfort of their own home.

"Derek was holding Kara up. I told him to dial 911, then I looked and the baby was crowning already," Hoernke said.

The first thing she told her daughter was to take deep breaths, as the baby needed oxygen, but she was actually stalling for time, trying to recall her own experiences and figure out what she should do.

Katherine, Kara's first child was delivered with no pain medication. For William, Kara had an epidural. She said she was remembering the epidural fondly with every labor pain and thought a couple of times, "I don't want to go through this."

"I delivered the head and reassured Kara that it was OK, and then the shoulders started coming," Hoernke said.

Kara kept saying she was nervous.

"Honey, one more push and this baby's out," Hoernke said she told her daughter. She didn't even have to manipulate the shoulders, just "guide to help ease the pressure."

Meanwhile the father-to-be was wondering what was taking the EMTs so long (it was really only four or five minutes), and where was the midwife.

They turned baby Elizabeth face down briefly to drain fluid from her lungs, and rubbed her with a towel to warm her and make her cry.

They were discussing who would cut the cord when Kara said, "Mom, they're here."

"I thought, praise God, the EMTs are right behind me," Hoernke said with a laugh.

The EMTs checked with a doctor and cleared Kara and Elizabeth to remain at home. Kara's pulse was at 80 after delivery.

Elizabeth weighed 8 pounds, 8 ounces and measured 20-1/2 inches long.

"She's my biggest baby, and I just love her chubby cheeks. None of my other babies had chubby cheeks," Kara said.

"(The emergency personnel) were all beaming like it was their child," Hoernke said. "Even the ambulance driver was cooing."

"One woman helped me with the whole thing after -- I can't remember her name, but she figured I'd want a woman here to help," Kara said.

The Brissons were touched when Captain John Wisner and another man came back with a quilt made by the Shoofly Quilters.

Derek and Kara said when they have more children they plan to deliver them at home because it is less stressful on the family as a whole.

"It was traumatic on our oldest daughter Katherine when William was born because I was away from her for three days at the hospital," Kara said.

Elizabeth's grandmother found the experience of delivering her so amazing, she thinks that if there were enough hours in the day she would go to school to become a midwife.

"I am just amazed at how perfectly the Lord worked everything out, considering the situation," said Kara.

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