Ewan Michael Herring will have a story to tell when he gets older about how his father had to deliver him on the bathroom floor of their home.
Orangeburg couple Ken and Megan Herring didn’t know just how eventful the chilly morning of April 30 would be. They had no idea they would soon welcome their second son into the world right there at home.
The bouncing baby boy was born two weeks early, weighing in at 8 pounds, 6 ounces. But it was how he was born that weighed on the minds of his parents, who were unable to make it to the hospital in time for Ewan's birth despite their best efforts.
Shortly after 4 a.m. that morning, Megan began having contractions, though they weren’t intense.
“I thought it was gas because that was not uncommon. So I got up and used the bathroom. I tried to go back to sleep but couldn’t get comfortable, something else that wasn’t uncommon,” she said.
“So I turned on the TV, and my oldest son was sleeping next to me because he falls asleep in front of the TV all the time. Then I noticed (the pain) started getting more intense, and in the back of my head I’m wondering, ‘Is this labor?’ It took about 45 minutes for me to realize that is not what I’ve been normally feeling,” Megan said.
Ken awoke to check on his wife, but she was still second-guessing herself as to if she was actually in labor.
“Maybe not even 30 minutes later, I said, ‘OK, I’m calling it. We need to go to the hospital.’ At that point, the contractions weren’t really close together, but they were enough. We already had the bags packed so we were just grabbing last-minute things,” Megan said.
The expectant mother would have to stop every so often to catch her breath, but her husband had already pulled the car around and was ready to go.
Their three-year-old McKelden was still asleep on the bed, continuing to sleep even as his mother was dressing him.
That’s when his baby brother began pushing a little harder than their mother could stand.
“All of a sudden, I felt him pushing. I really had to go to the bathroom. So I went to the bathroom and when I got up, there was blood on the toilet. I screamed – and I’m not a screamer. I was in so much pain I couldn’t even walk to the car,” Megan said.
That’s when she told Ken she didn't know what to do and to call an ambulance.
“My instinct finally told me to lay down in our bathroom. I pulled towels down and put them under me because that’s all I could think to do. I heard Ken outside calling the ambulance,” Megan said. By then, however, there would be no need for an emergency medical technician.
“He (Ken) came back in. I said, ‘Something’s coming out of me.’ He looked and saw it was the baby. He told me that he put his hand under the baby’s chest, and I guess that triggered something in the muscles because then the baby just popped out,” she said.
But that wasn’t the end of the drama.
“The cord was around his neck. So I had to get that off, which was scary,” Ken said, noting that he had no time to think or prepare for the situation he found himself in.
“I really didn’t have a lot of time to think. It was just happening whether I wanted it to or not. I knew I had to support his head because he was just coming. Like she said, I put my hand on his chest … and it must have triggered something," he said.
“At first, I saw the cord around his neck. It was like two wraps. I knew I had to get that off first. But it all happened so fast, I really don’t know what I was thinking. I just knew I had to do something, you know? It didn’t take very long,” Ken said.
Megan said, “I would say we were definitely panicky up until I finally just decided we needed to call an ambulance. And then when he came back in, we were still kind of panicking, but he had something to focus on. So it was like an adrenaline rush.”
The ambulance was on its way and got there just in time to help Ken with the umbilical cord.
“They were on their way. When I was on the phone with 911, I heard her (Megan) scream. So, I mean, it was like less than a minute after I held the phone that it all happened,” he said.
“He (Ken) was outside like kind of flagging them down and telling them they could back up to the door,” Megan said. “He didn’t want to do the cutting of the umbilical cord so he put the baby on my chest. He was quite comfortable there, and I was just lying there because I wasn’t going to move. That’s when I saw the lights, and the EMTs came in.”
Ken said, “I mean, they let me cut the umbilical cord, but they did all the clamping first and then let me cut it. I wouldn’t have known what to do so I’m very glad they were there. I mean, they were here like a minute after he was born. So it was all very quick.”
Megan was aware of everything around her that morning and was relieved when it was over.
“I was like, ‘Yeah, just do whatever y’all need to do because I’m not moving.' It was such a cramped space, anyway, that I was scared to move. The EMTs had to like step over me and pick the baby up and get him wrapped up because it was a very cold morning,” she said.
“Then when they had me on the gurney, they made sure I was wrapped up and then they woke McKelden up. He sat up and had his eyes open. He saw me, he saw dad and the three EMTs. They were trying to say, “McKelden, your little brother’s here!’ Even though his eyes were open, he still wasn’t awake because it was 6:10 or 6:15 in the morning,” Megan said.
“The EMTs were great,” Ken said.
Megan recounted how the special delivery lifted the spirits of the EMTs.
“They were telling us the whole ride to the hospital that this made their day because I think the call they had before us was a DOA (Dead on Arrival),” she said.
The EMTs who responded to her emergency wrote a “congratulatory note” on a little gauze pad, Megan said. She said she realizes that the delivery of her baby may not have gone as quickly and successfully as it did.
“It could have been so different. I told Ken that I’m just glad I wasn’t by myself,” she said, noting that her baby did not feel like a full 8 pounds, 6 ounces coming out.
“The pain was when he was actually pushing. Now the part when he actually came out, that really didn’t hurt. It was more like a pressure being relieved off of me. But there’s also the fact that that part happened so super quick. It was like I didn’t have time to think about why I wasn’t able to get an epidural,” Megan said, smiling.
Megan and Ken were able to make it to Lexington Medical Center, when their oldest son was born, but that experience was not without its drama, either.
“Traffic actually stopped on our way to the hospital with him. Now, mind you, it was only 15 seconds, but in that situation, that was the longest 15 seconds ever,” Megan said, adding that McKelden was born two days late at 8 pounds, 4 ounces after 12 hours of labor.
“I remember waking up and the contractions were already intense with him. We weren’t as ready with our bags and stuff as we were with the new baby, either. McKelden was coming fast, though, because they didn’t think I’d get an epidural with him. But I managed to get one, and that kind of slowed him down,” she said.
Ken said the distance to Lexington made the Orangeburg hospital a more viable option, although it didn’t make much of a difference with Ewan's arrival.
“The distance was one of the reasons we didn’t go back to Lexington this time. We knew we were closer here, but it didn’t help,” he said, laughing.
Ken said he doesn’t have much advice for new dads who may find themselves in the situation he was in with Ewan's birth.
“Oh, I don’t know. Just do your best not to panic, I guess, and try to see what needs to be done. It was more like an instinct thing. I really wasn’t thinking at all, other than I knew I couldn’t just let him fall on the floor," he said.
“And I knew that cord had to come off. I mean, that’s the only thing I really thought about. I wouldn’t know what to tell anybody. I have no clue. My advice is to try not to let it happen."
Ken added, “It may have helped that I’ve seen three others born. I have McKelden and two other children. So I’ve witnessed it – I’ve just never had to do anything. So I guess that might have helped.”
The couple said they are not planning to have any more children.
“No,” Megan said emphatically. “I only ever wanted two.”
In the meantime, they’re simply enjoying their newest bundle of joy.
“Mommy’s still getting used to his different cries,” Megan said, adding that she is definitely more rested now that she’s at home and without “an almost 9-pound baby on my bladder.”
When the new mom was discharged from the hospital on May 1, it was a bit humorous having to explain how her son was delivered, she said.
“You have to talk to like half a dozen people before you’re discharged. And one of them asked, ‘Who delivered your baby?’ And I turned and pointed and said, ‘Him,’” she said, referring to Ken.
“I was a doctor for about 20 seconds, I guess,” Ken said, smiling.
“It was also fun when I arrived at the hospital because you could hear them having to go back and forth about trying to get all the stuff for the reports or whatever,” Megan said. “Everybody at the hospital thought the baby was born in the ambulance, and you had to hear them being corrected with, ‘No, he was born at home.’
Smiling, she added, “All the nurses at the hospital already told me to just camp out on the hospital steps with the next one."