December 28, 2010

Benton woman gives birth in a taxi

'I sat in the cab and my water broke,' says Hillary Pratt

By Amy Calder acalder@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

Keelin Taylor was expected, but the way he came into the world Monday was a surprise to everyone.

click image to enlarge

Hillary Pratt of Benton holds her new son, Keelin Taylor, at the hospital on Monday, after giving birth in a taxi in Oakland.

Photo by Michael Seamans

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Audio recording of the child birth call
An audio recording of the phone call to a Waterville police dispatcher as a woman gives birth in a taxi early Monday morning in Oakland.

The boy was born just after 2 a.m. in the back seat of a taxi in Oakland, in the middle of a snowstorm.

“Honestly, I didn’t know what to think,” his mom, Hillary Pratt of Benton, said Monday from her hospital bed. “All of a sudden, I had to start pushing.”

The drama started just after 2 a.m. when Pratt, 25, told her fiance, Derek Taylor, that she was in distress. She was supposed to go to the hospital at 7 a.m. to have labor induced, but she started having birth contractions early. The couple was at the home of Taylor’s sister, Ericka Curtis, on Shores Road.

They immediately called G’s Taxi to take her to MaineGeneral Medical Center’s Thayer Campus in Waterville. A taxi van arrived and Pratt managed to get inside.

But there was no time for anything else.

“I sat in the cab and my water broke,” Pratt said. “I was kind of amazed. I was trying to get to the hospital. Apparently he (Keelin) had other plans.”

The driver called the Waterville Police Department. Police dispatcher Sarah Bailey, who had just arrived at work, answered the call, which came in on the department’s business line.

“It was a taxi driver saying a female in his back seat was having a baby in front of a residence,” Bailey, 29, recalled.

Bailey’s emergency medical dispatch training kicked in, and she followed the protocol for helping deliver a baby. She called Delta Ambulance and Oakland Rescue, while also telling the cab driver what to do, step by step.

In an audio recording of the call, which lasts about 7 minutes, Bailey’s calm voice is heard relaying instructions to the cab driver, who then relayed them to Curtis, who was in the back seat with Pratt.

In an interview Monday, Curtis, 28, said she has had 14 miscarriages and lost a baby in childbirth because of her unusual blood type and other complications. Last year, she finally gave birth to a healthy baby boy named Dalton.

As Curtis found herself in a situation she never imagined — delivering a baby herself — she was determined to make sure Pratt and her baby would be OK.

“She was saying, ‘It hurts, Ericka, it hurts,’ and I was like, ‘I know, I know,’” Curtis said.

Pratt gave birth sitting up in the back seat of the cab.

“She pushed and it was coming right out,” Curtis said. “His head popped out and he was facing downward.”

Bailey, the dispatcher, then offered a gentle reminder.

“The baby will be slippery, and don’t  drop it,” she said.

After clearing the baby’s mouth and nose, Curtis reported the boy was fine but the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck and arm. She was able to unwrap it from his neck and then Oakland police officer Jake Pierce arrived to help.

“I unzipped my jacket and was able to put the baby inside of it before the police officer arrived,” Curtis said. “My brand new jacket was all bloody and ruined. But it’s worth it.”

Pratt and the baby were taken by Delta Ambulance to Thayer, where both were doing just fine later Monday morning.
Keelin weighed in at 6 pounds, 5 ounces. He joins siblings Matthew, 4, Damian, 2, and LA-Keishacorrect spelling, 14 months.

Pratt said she wants to meet Bailey one day to thank her for her help.

Curtis said the delivery of Keelin was successful, thanks to the calm instructions from Bailey and the cab driver, plus her own experience watching television shows about babies.

(Continued on page 2)

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