Ryan Simon isn’t sure why she grabbed pants to put on early last Tuesday morning, Jan. 8, around 2 a.m., as she and her young family were dashing for the car on their way to Mercy Hospital Washington to deliver the family’s fourth child, Anna Marie Simon.
Looking back, she realizes a skirt would have been more ideal, but she never expected it would ever matter.
“I just grabbed my most comfortable pants,” she said.
Ryan had woken up around 1:45 that morning feeling some serious contractions, but she didn’t immediately think it was time to head to the hospital. Her due date, after all, wasn’t until Jan. 20.
This pregnancy hadn’t been an easy one, Ryan noted. She’d been having contractions for some time and even went to the hospital a month earlier (some six weeks before her due date) with labor pains.
She was released after receiving a shot to speed up the baby’s lung development, just in case she was born early.
So when Ryan woke early last Tuesday morning, she didn’t immediately think it was time to get to the hospital. Her water hadn’t broken, so she decided to take a hot bath to try to ease the pain.
“They told me that if I wasn’t really in labor, a hot bath would dull or stop the contractions,” Ryan recalled.
It didn’t. In fact, the contractions got more intense. So at 2 a.m. she woke her husband with the news.
“We were out the door by 2:20 (a.m.),” said Ryan, their three other children in tow — Isabella, 4, Jessica, 3, and Matthew, 1.
The family piled into their Chrysler Concorde, a roomy mid-size car that fits three car seats in the back seat. Ryan was in the front passenger seat, reclined as far back as it would go.
The family, who live just outside of Catawissa, were in for a ride.
“I don’t know how fast he (John) was driving. I was screaming the entire way,” said Ryan.
The oldest daughter was yelling for her to, “Stop screaming! You’re going to wake up baby brother!” The second daughter was screaming with her mother, out of empathy. One-year-old Matthew slept through it all.
Ryan had been in this kind of pain before. When she went into labor with Matthew, she was too dilated by the time she arrived at the hospital to receive an epidural, a regional anesthesia that blocks or relieves pain in the lower region of the body. So she had experienced one natural childbirth.
“I didn’t remember the pain being quite as intense,” she said.
Things sped up when her water broke just as her husband was getting to the on-ramp for Highway 100.
“A few seconds after that, she was halfway out and my pants were catching her,” Ryan recalled.
“I looked over at my husband and said, ‘the baby’s here!’ ”
Not feeling like there was any time to pull over, John continued to drive as he helped his wife get her pants off. With that, Ryan felt the urge to push one more time and Anna was born.
“John caught her with one hand,” Ryan said, noting he continued to steer with the other hand and watch the road. “He caught her and carefully handed her to me, put her on my chest, and I wrapped her up in my pants.”
Worried that their daughter, born almost two weeks early, could be in some kind of distress, the parents didn’t feel they had any time to waste pulling over.
John had already called a relative, who contacted the hospital about the situation.
“When we got there, they had a stretcher ready for us and several warm blankets,” said Ryan.
“I don’t even remember getting on the stretcher, they did it so fast.”
Anna was healthy — 6 pounds, 11 ounces, and 19 inches long. She was a little cold, said Ryan, but she was rushed to labor and delivery and put under a warming lamp.
“We were really blessed to have come through this all so well,” said Ryan, just three days after the unusual delivery.
She credits Mercy Hospital Washington with making the difference.
“I’ve always loved this hospital,” Ryan remarked. “They are always so fast and orderly.”
Chandra Alsop, Mercy nurse manager for maternal child, said cases like the Simons’ of babies being delivered en route to the hospital are seldom, but the seriousness of the situation is real.
“The medical response is emergent given the circumstances. When they come to the hospital (and the hospital is aware they are coming) labor and delivery and nursery nurses meet mom and baby in the emergency department with an emergency room doctor so they can immediately care for mom and baby and make medical assessments.”
Fortunately, everything worked out well for the Simons, thanks to Dad’s good driving, quick reflexes and long arms. Four-year-old Isabella didn’t forget her dad’s help in the crisis, Ryan said.
“After everything had calmed down, she looked at him and said, ‘Thank you, Daddy, for making Mommy stop screaming.’ ”