Mother recalls delivering baby in ambulance during Dec. 15 ice storm

Wednesday, December 24, 2008
PAUL DAVIS ~ Daily American Republic
Jason Womble, left, plays with his son Peyton, 4, who was born on Christmas Eve while April holds her son, Mason, who was born during the ice storm Dec. 15 in an ambulance on Highway 25.

April Womble won't be doing much for son Peyton's birthday this year.

"I've been a little preoccupied," she said.

Chances are, Peyton Lewis Womble, who turns 4 today, won't mind.

His mother's distraction started the night of Dec. 15, when she learned the birth of her second child was drawing near.

"My husband and I went to the doctor on Monday, and he said I was dialated to a 7 and 100 percent effaced," said April Womble, 23. "He sent me home and was going to bring me in Tuesday and break my water."

PAUL DAVIS ~ Daily American Republic
April Womble of Wappapello, Mo., kisses her son, Mason, who was born during the ice storm Dec. 15 in an ambulance.

April and Jason Womble debated on whether to spend the night in Cape Girardeau or return to their Wappapello, Mo., home for one more night with Peyton. They went home. The ice storm that had started late in the afternoon got bigger.

"Everything was fine. We started to go to bed and I started to cough and my water broke," she said. "We jumped in the car and took off, pretty much. But we weren't going fast. We live on Highway Z. It's not a main road, and it was pretty slick."

Peyton was ensconced safely in the back seat of the family's 2007 Tahoe, where he watched a dinosaur movie.

"All he knew was that we were going to have a baby and mommy's belly hurt," she said.

Her contractions quickly progressed in frequency to one minute apart.

"We have a button in our car for OnStar. We didn't even use it," she said. "My husband called a friend of ours -- a volunteer fireman -- and said, 'Should I try to attempt to deliver this baby myself?' and he told us to call an ambulance."

Jason Womble called 911 and was connected to the Stoddard County Ambulance District at 8:50 p.m. At that point, the family was nearing Advance, Mo. They agreed to meet paramedics at an Advance gas station.

April Womble said when she was pregnant with Peyton, she and Jason had stayed in Cape Girardeau after the final doctor visit to walk around the mall, shop for Christmas and "see if anything would get started."

It did, with Peyton being born Christmas Eve. "People got a little shortchanged on Christmas gifts that year," she recalled with a laugh.

This time around, she was half out of her mind with the increasing contractions, half listening to her husband's phone conversations. But she remembers the speed limit in Advance being 30 miles an hour. And Jason, an independent truck driver, was driving as fast as he safely could on the icy road.

"There was a police officer there and he pulled up on us, but once he realized what was going on, he started helping. He got his coat out of the car to cover me up and even when the ambulance got there, while they were getting me ready to go to the hospital, my husband was still by our car to be with our son. The police officer said he'd stay with our son so my husband could be with me until [the ambulance] was ready to leave," she said.

Paramedics Amy Earls and Steven Cummins, both having helped deliver a baby once before, got April Womble into the ambulance. With Jason Womble following, they quickly returned to Highway 25.

Police Sgt. David Garner returned to patrolling Advance, later telling his co-workers he "almost got to help deliver a baby."

Cummins drove swiftly but cautiously over the perilous highway. Voices over the ambulance radio gave frequent updates on the poor road conditions.

"I mean my contractions -- it seemed like I'd take a breath and have another one," April Womble said. "All I wanted was some pain medication, and of course they can't give that at that point."

The point they were at, when Cummins pulled the ambulance to the side of the road, was imminent birth.

After the paramedics checked, they decided they could go a little farther, April Womble said.

But before the ambulance could finish pulling over a second time on Highway 25, Earls was helping the newest Womble, a 6-pound, 2-ounce boy, into the world. The time: 9:17 p.m.

"That was the only downside, that my husband wasn't able to be with me in the ambulance," April Womble said. "But he was there when Amy told me it was a boy."

They named him Mason Arthur. Mason, because his parents liked the name. Arthur for Jason's maternal grandfather.

It was another 45 minutes to travel to Saint Francis Medical Center, where mother and child recouped for two days before returning to their Wappapello home.

Somehow, April Womble said, it doesn't feel like anyone in her family will be shortchanged this Christmas.

pmcnichol@semissourian.com

388-3646

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