Courtney Reynolds of Evansville is an experienced mom. Pregnant with her ninth child, Reynolds treated Sept. 27 as any other day, preparing her family for the arrival of their newest member.
The pregnancy was complicated – the little one refused to turn and was sitting in the breech position, rear end down, rather than head-first. So, a cesarean delivery (C-section) was planned in just a few days.
It was a rare moment when only one of her eight other children was at their rural home – the oldest, 13-year-old Luke. Her husband had taken the five boys to town for football practice, and her mother and sister had the three little girls that evening.
Courtney didn’t anticipate that the day would end with the arrival of her fourth little girl, and with her eldest gaining an unexpected education by helping his mom deliver his newest sibling.
Luke said that “never in my wildest dreams” would he have ever thought he’d be there to help his mom deliver a baby.
Courtney told Cowboy State Daily that although she’s had nine children, that doesn’t mean she’s got all the signals figured out, so she doesn’t always make it to the hospital in time.
“My fifth boy was born in the car on the way to the hospital,” she said. “And at that time, we only lived two minutes away from the hospital.”
She and her husband had planned for the birth of this latest little one to happen at home with the assistance of a midwife, because of how quickly her babies historically have arrived near their due dates. But complications arose at 35 weeks when an ultrasound showed the umbilical cord wrapped around the baby’s neck.
“The contractions just pushing her down into the birth canal could have strangled her,” said Courtney. “So (the midwife) actually had me scheduled for a C-section that was supposed to be two days later.”
Courtney awoke the morning of Sept. 27 to contractions and was concerned that the baby might be born before the scheduled C-section. So she went to the hospital, where staff performed an ultrasound to check the position of the umbilical cord.
“My obstetrician did not see the cord around her neck anymore,” she said, which was a relief.
To try to avoid Courtney having to go through a C-section, her doctor attempted to turn the baby so her head would be in the right position for a normal birth.
“He tried three times to flip her,” said Courtney. “And every time she would flip back.”
After giving her medication to pause the contractions, the doctor sent Courtney home. Her mother and sister had taken their three little girls while she was at the hospital, so Courtney settled down for a nap while her husband took the boys to football practice.
When she awoke around 5 p.m., Courtney found herself in a rare moment when she was at home with just her oldest son, who had taken the bus home from school.
“He was going to go with my husband and he’s like, ‘Well, I’ll just stay with mom in case she needs anything, in case she needs help,’” said Courtney. “So he decided to stay.”
When Courtney felt contractions coming on shortly after she awoke from her nap, she wasn’t alarmed, even though her husband was a half-hour away at the boys’ football practice.
“I was getting contractions, but they were very irregular and not as strong as what I would usually (experience) going to the hospital,” she said.
But by about 7, Courtney said it was like a switch flipped.
“It just came on hard and fast,” she said. “I couldn’t move, I couldn’t really walk. I couldn’t even dial my husband’s phone number.”
Handing her phone to Luke, she instructed him to call his dad, which he did. Then, he turned to his mom and asked him if her water had broken yet.
“He doesn’t know exactly how everything works,” said Courtney with a laugh. “But I told him no, and he said ‘OK, well then you’re fine. You’re not actually in labor yet.’”
Baby No. 9 Just Wouldn’t Wait
But moments later while Courtney was in the bathroom gathering items to go to the hospital, her water broke. That’s when Luke panicked “just a bit,” she said.
“I was really, definitely scared,” Luke said.
Luke called his dad, who said he wouldn’t make it home in time. He told Luke to call Courtney’s sister, a nurse who lives about 15 minutes from their house.
“As he’s on the phone with her, she was telling him some things to do,” said Courtney. “I think she told him to go grab some towels and try to grab stuff in case the baby did come before she got there, that he could grab, like, stuff to clamp the cord and scissors.”
As Luke was busily gathering the emergency items, Courtney knew the baby was getting ready to make her appearance.
“She was coming out butt-first, and I just grabbed her and pulled her up and held her,” said Courtney. “And Luke went and got some towels, and we wrapped her up.”
Courtney sent Luke to find clamps for the umbilical cord, which he found in her husband’s tool box. They clamped off the cord, but didn’t cut it right away. By this time, Courtney’s sister had arrived and her mom had called 911, so a sheriff’s deputy and EMS team were on their way.
“Once they got there, they cut (the cord), and then they loaded us up and took us to the hospital,” said Courtney.
Not What He Expected
Although Luke had seen his other siblings shortly after their births, Courtney said he wasn’t quite expecting to see how babies look immediately after they are born.
“I thought she was stillborn,” Luke said, which added to his terror. But the baby’s pale skin was just the white vernix coating all babies have when they are in the womb.
“When she came out, of course, she had the white vernix, she wasn’t clean,” Courtney said. “And he was just really concerned about the whole situation because nothing looked quite right for him.”
When the placenta came out, that was another shock for the teen, said Courtney.
“I looked over and I thought it was her liver, and I almost had a heart attack,” Luke said.
As unnerving as the situation was, Courtney said Luke kept his concerns under control.
“He was pretty scared, but he didn’t show it,” she said. “He actually stayed pretty calm and was, like, under control. But I found out later that he was pretty concerned that things were not going right.”
Last week, the Natrona County Sheriff’s Office honored Luke for his quick response and assistance. Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Kiera Grogan said the responding officer, Deputy Dan Beall, felt the young man deserved recognition.
“Deputy Beall felt that it was really important that we recognize him and express to him how his actions were completely courageous and, honestly, heroic,” said Grogan.
Luke was presented with a Natrona County Sheriff’s Office patch and challenge coin, which Grogan said is a high honor.
“Receiving a challenge coin from a law enforcement officer is a recognition of him doing something courageous in the community,” she said. “At just 13 years old, he acted quickly and without hesitation in helping his mom and ensured that they were comfortable until Deputy Beall and EMS arrived.”
Courtney said that although Luke is the big brother to eight other siblings, his bond with tiny Michaela is a little stronger.
“Whenever I pick her up, she calms down,” said Luke. “It’s almost like we have a bond.”
Courtney said that Luke has always been good with his smaller siblings, but with Michaela there’s a special relationship.
“He kind of takes on that ownership of being there,” she said.
But Luke said he has no plans to make delivering babies a career. The seventh grader has hopes to be an aerospace engineer one day – but if necessary, he said he thinks he’d be able to step in if anything like this happens again.
“I think I could probably handle it,” he said.