Parents deliver baby at home during blizzard with help from doulas on video chat, then trek through knee-deep snow
Dec 29, 2022, 6:00 AM
(Courtesy Davon Thomas)
CNN) — ‘Twas two days before Christmas when within the house, a soon-to-be mother began having contractions.
Erica and Davon Thomas were expecting their first child on Christmas Day, but around 11 p.m. on December 23, Erica’s contractions began.
On Christmas Eve morning, the contractions worsened — but the Thomas’ couldn’t leave their home as the snow from the winter storm had piled up about halfway up the front door of their Buffalo home, Davon told CNN.
The soon-to-be father called 911 for help and was told they’d attempt to get an emergency vehicle there as soon as possible. When he called again later, he was told responders had attempted to get to their house but couldn’t.
“I started thinking, ‘Well, how is my baby going to get delivered safely?'” Davon told CNN.
That’s when he realized they were going to be doing this alone.
Davon called a friend, Jeter Neville Jr., who made a post for the couple on a Buffalo Facebook group, asking for help.
Comments poured in from people offering advice, help and even sharing their phone numbers. Raymonda Reynolds, an experienced doula of five years, was among them.
Reynolds spoke with Davon around 1 p.m., as Davon expressed concern for his wife and child.
“I’m so happy they chose me, there was a lot of people they could’ve called.” Reynolds told CNN.
Reynolds said she could hear Erica in the background — clearly in labor — as she began telling Davon what to do.
“It was straight tunnel vision,” Davon recalled. “I realized how important this was and all nerves went away.”
With Reynolds’ guidance, he grabbed towels, a pair of sanitized scissors and a bowl from the kitchen (to catch the placenta).
The two eventually got onto a video chat so the doula could better assist them.
“I kept telling Erica to take deep breaths,” Reynolds said, “I was trying to keep them calm and reassure them.”
As Erica walked around the house in pain, Davon’s job was to follow her closely.
Reynolds also added her friend, doula and nurse Iva Blackburn, to the call. “She brought that extra comfort with the medical background,” Reynolds said.
A little after 3 p.m., the two doulas on video chat advised Davon to look at the baby with a flashlight.
As he put the phone down to check, Erica yelled, “The baby’s crowning!”
Erica then described a burning sensation and gave out what Reynolds described as “a primal moan.”
Davon held a pile of towels underneath Erica as she squatted and pushed. The room was quiet, and then Erica shouted: “She’s here!”
“We started screaming like it was a Buffalo Bills touchdown,” Reynolds said. “It was the most beautiful thing I’ve been a part of.”
Devynn Briell Thomas was born at 3:31 p.m. on December 24, weighing 6 pounds, 9 ounces and measuring 20 inches long.
The doulas advised the new parents to clean Devynn’s mouth and nose, and ensure skin-to-skin contact with mom. Then, the baby let out her first cry.
The two doulas stayed on the phone with the couple to help with the afterbirth and cutting the umbilical cord.
“I couldn’t have done it without them,” Davon said, adding he and his wife were in shock. “It was very comforting knowing they were there.”
And it’s social media that made it possible. Facebook “can be messy sometimes, but it can be life saving and life changing,” Reynolds said.
After the successful birth, the family’s next task was to get mom and baby to the hospital, despite the snowstorm. At around 4:30 a.m. on Christmas Day, Davon got a call saying help was on the way.
Angel Lugo’s family had seen the post on Facebook and his sister told Davon Lugo would come take them to the hospital, he said.
The snowfall prevented Lugo from parking at the family’s house, so the new mom, dad and baby had to trek through three blocks of knee-deep snow to the car. “We had to walk through quite a bit of snow,” Davon added. “It was like a scene out of a movie.”
Davon said his family arrived back home on Tuesday safe and sound, and Erica and Devynn are “both doing wonderful.”
And once the snow melts, they plan on meeting the doulas who helped them through it face-to-face.