Commentary

Saunders: A frazzled father, a courageous mother and a baby that just couldn’t wait

bsaunders@newsobserver.comJune 22, 2014 

Leo Nieves and his wife, Angela, of Rocky Mount, are both 33 and already had two daughters, so they knew the drill when Angela became pregnant again.

They knew to have the baby bag packed for the trip to the hospital, how to time the contractions, the quickest route to get there.

“Having two children,” Leo Nieves told me last week, “we kind of knew what to do. We just didn’t expect everything to go downhill that quickly.”

How quickly? So quickly that Victor Emmanuel Nieves came into the world in the back of his father’s van as it sped down U.S. 301 toward Vidant-Edgecombe Hospital in Tarboro, an hour after his mother went into labor.

Frazzled but fine

Leo, director of bands at Nash Central High School, and Angela, director of child care at Nash Comunity College, were both frazzled but fine when they finally made it to the hospital. Victor Emmanuel seemed oblivious and declined to comment except to say “WAAAAAAA!”

In an email and telephone interview, Leo Nieves told me about the June 2 morning his first son arrived. He told it better than anyone could:

“It was about 3:15 when I woke up from my beautiful, pregnant wife, Angela, going to the bathroom, yet again, for the 4th or 5th time that night. As always, I asked her if she was doing OK. Most of the time, she would say she was fine. ... This time, however, I got a different answer.”

He asked her if she wanted him to time her contractions. “She said, ‘No, not yet.’ About 2 minutes passed and she told me they were real contractions and to start timing. We got through the first one and once the second one started, she said she felt pressure and then needed to go to the hospital. Then, her water broke and we had to go.”

‘Scrambling around’

“I had been on her to pack her overnight bag for about a month and she had not done it yet,” he said. “So, I began scrambling around the room to get things together. Every once in awhile, she would yell for me and I would go to her. It became a tennis match of me going back and forth between comforting her as best I can and packing a bag for us. ... After getting our belongings together, we made our way to the car, which began the most stressful car drive of my life.

“As I pulled onto the ramp to get onto Highway 64 ... I continued to tell her to just give me time to get her to the hospital – like she could control it. At this point, we are yelling back and forth. ...

“She then took her seatbelt off and said she needed to push. We are about halfway down 64 to Tarboro and I pleaded with her to just hang in there, give me time and to PLEASE put her seatbelt back on. As I am flying down the left lane, I approach two semis in the right lane.

“The one behind the other decided to pass and got in the left lane as I am approaching. At this point, not only has Angela taken her seatbelt off, but now she is taking off her pants. I start honking my horn at the semi and he quickly got out of the way, which I am grateful for!

“Between exit 484 and 485, she continued saying “THE BABY IS COMING, THE BABY IS COMING!” I pleaded with her to hold on, give me 5 more minutes. ... Then, (out of) the corner of my eye, I see a silhouette of a baby being pulled from her body. My wife delivered the baby herself at 4:20 a.m. I turned and looked at the two of them and remember hearing the engine rev up even more than it had been and I put the pedal to the metal.”

‘Overwhelmed’

“As we get off the ramp, Angela begins patting the baby on the back to get the baby to cry. It was the longest 15 seconds of my life, there was nothing to be heard. Then, one of the most beautiful sounds I have ever heard … a baby’s cry. We were so overwhelmed with emotions.

“Angela checked to see the sex of the baby. We had our first son! Never had I felt two strong, opposite emotions at the same time. I felt extreme joy, but at the same time had never been so scared in my life. My wife had just delivered a baby, herself, in our van, with no doctors around. I had to get them to the hospital ASAP! My job at that moment was clearer by the second … get them to that hospital, safe and sound. God had given me a job and I had to get it done.”

Nieves said he made the 25- to 30-minute trip in about 15 minutes. He said he ran into the hospital screaming “I NEED HELP!” A police officer, seeing the horrified look on his face, yelled for help and rushed to the van. They were followed by several doctors and nurses, he said.

“The police officer told my wife that she could let go of the baby and that help was here.

“Reluctantly,” Nieves recounted, “she let go ... and the doctors cut the umbilical cord. They wrapped the baby up and half the team ran inside with him. The other half of the team tended to my wife and got her in the hospital. I was left out there by myself. As I stood next to the van, I said out loud, ‘I guess I’ll go park the van now.’ 

What about moolah, though? I asked Nieves. Did the hospital charge for the delivery?

“We’re actually waiting for that bill to come in,” he laughed. “We joked with the doctors and said we shouldn’t be charged for this baby being delivered since Angela kind of took care of that on her own. We’ll see what happens when we get the bill in the mail and go from there.”

What do you think? Should the hospital charge the Nieveses for the delivery?

Saunders: 919-836-2811 or bsaunders@newsobserver.com

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