Preemie Survives Front Lawn Birth Thanks to Quick-Acting Police Officers

Preemie Survives Front Lawn Birth Thanks to Quick-Acting Officers (via Babble)
Barnegat Township Police officers Vinnie Damiano and Michael Moore very delicately performed CPR on the baby, who was born at 24 weeks gestation.

Okay, you know how there’s that weird time after you have a baby where your body is still out of whack, and your period hasn’t really come back? Yeah, that. Turns out that post-baby body can camouflage a pre-baby body.

Elizabeth Whitehead, of Barnegat, New Jersey, has a nine-month-old baby. She also now has (surprise! and congratulations!) a newborn, reports ABC News, although the mom didn’t know she was pregnant.

Ms. Whitehead told local news The Lacey Patch that she had taken two pregnancy tests, both of which came back negative. When she felt cramps, she thought they heralded her “long overdue” period. As the “stomach pain” worsened, she headed to the hospital, but only made it as far as her front yard.

The cramps were labor pains.

“It all happened on the grass,” she told the Patch. “His head was out when I was on the grass.”

The baby’s father, David Windham, called 911, and police officers arrived to find the baby not breathing, and without a pulse. Patrolmen Vinne Damiano and Michael Moore quickly, but delicately, performed CPR on the tiny newborn, born at 24 weeks gestation. Patrolman Moore continued CPR in an ambulance on the way to the nearest hospital, stabilizing the baby’s breathing and heart rate, stated the Barnegat Police Department.

The baby was transferred to a hospital with a neonative intensive care unit, but Mr. Windham told the Patch that so far, “the baby is fine.” He also expressed to NBC Philadelphia his gratitude to the officers who saved the life of his new son.

As with any story about a woman giving birth without realizing she was pregnant, it’s easy for a reader’s first reaction to be “how on earth could you not know you were pregnant?” In fact, that’s what a lot of the comments are on ABC News’ story and on the Patch article. Several of the comments on those other two articles accuse the mom of being ignorant or worse, and that she should have gone to the doctor if she hadn’t gotten her period nine months after she gave birth. Yeesh.

Besides the fact that snark and judgement isn’t going to help this couple raise a 9-month-old and an incredibly premature baby, I can totally see how this happened to this mom. It’s incredibly common not to get your period for months after having a baby, especially if you’re breastfeeding. There was 18 months in between my second birth and my third pregnancy, and I never actually got my period in that time.

Everything about your body is different after you have a baby, and it can take a while to get used to the “new” you. This mom also took two home pregnancy tests, and they came back negative.

Ms. Whitehead didn’t look pregnant, either. Her neighbor Pat Faraldi told NBC Philadelphia, “I can’t say that I noticed she was pregnant. She carries well!”

Also, we’re talking about a pregnancy that only lasted 24 weeks. Many women don’t feel the baby’s first fluttering movements until around 25 weeks, says WebMD; if you don’t think you’re pregnant, it’s really easy to think those are just gas bubbles you’re feeling. According to WebMD, a baby’s movements are usually well-established by 28 weeks, which is the beginning of the third trimester.

With my first pregnancy, I was undergoing fertility treatments, so I knew right away that I was pregnant. With my second and third pregnancies, though, I didn’t know right away; I was just about in my second trimester when I finally had a pregnancy test come up positive. (I was thrilled, by the way.)

I’ve spent most of my adulthood not having a regular period (“normal” for me would be to get my period once or twice a year), I just kept re-taking pregnancy tests. If I went to the doctor every time I didn’t get my period, I’d be at the doctor a lot. If I had gone to the doctor every month that I didn’t get a period after my third baby, I would have been at the doctor once a month for eighteen months. And when you’ve already got a baby, ain’t nobody got time (or money) for that.

So how about, instead of judging this woman and snarking all over the Internet about her, we do this: thank the police officers who arrived within minutes of the 911 call, and saved the baby’s life. Wish this mother peace because she is about to be torn between being at home with her 9-month-old baby, and being in the NICU with her tiny, fragile newborn. Wish this couple strength in raising two kids close in age, one of whom will likely be in the NICU for months, and may have serious health and developmental complications from being so significantly premature.

And wish both these children the wisdom to shrug off the snarky Internet comments, when they inevitably read all the online articles about their mother some day.

(Photo Credit: NBC Philadelphia)

Read more from Joslyn on Babble and at her blog, stark. raving. mad. mommy. You can also follow Joslyn on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

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