PORT TOWNSEND — A Port Angeles couple on the way to a hospital for the birth of their third child found that little Henry arrived sooner than expected.
Henry James Waldron was delivered by his father at about 4:45 a.m. Dec. 2 in the back seat of his family’s Suburban on the shoulder of state Highway 20.
His parents, Cortland and Libby Waldron, eventually reached Jefferson Healthcare hospital in Port Townsend, where Henry was examined and found to be a healthy 7 pounds, 12 ounces.
Both Henry and Libby were discharged from the hospital last Tuesday.
The Waldrons had been at Jefferson Healthcare for about two hours last Sunday night, but Cortland, 30, said Libby, 28, wasn’t admitted because no progress was being made.
“Instead of getting a hotel and staying close, we decided to drive all the way home,” Cortland said.
Libby said their past experience played a role. Both Addison, their 6-year-old daughter, and Oliver, their 4-year-old son, were two weeks overdue before they were born.
Henry was only four days overdue. The Waldrons thought they had time.
“We had only been home for about two hours, and I woke up feeling quite different than the day before,” Libby said. “These were definitely different pains, but I thought there was no way we could head back just two hours later because it was really no progress at all, and it didn’t even seem like I was close.”
Libby said she tried to sleep through the contractions, but her water broke about 3:45 a.m., and they were back out the door in about 10 minutes.
“I told him, ‘This is not going to be a fun car ride,’ because the contractions were super strong right away,” she said.
Cortland said they called a friend to stay with their kids, and they started “a mad dash” toward Port Townsend.
“I still wasn’t expecting it to be any time soon, but I was just wanting her to get there so she could be in her environment and so she could have the pregnancy and delivery she wanted,” he said.
Libby also thought the delivery could be a couple hours away, but she knew something was different.
“I could tell instantly that he was engaged,” she said. “Things were happening super, super fast, and I could really feel every contraction was doing something new to my body, so I knew every time there was something pretty major going on.”
When Cortland turned onto northbound Highway 20, Libby told him she wasn’t going to make it.
He briefly tried to convince her it was only a few more minutes, but he pulled over before they reached Anderson Lake Road.
“Somewhere on the stretch there, I found a little turnoff spot,” Cortland said. “My wife just made me pull over because she said she was holding his head in her hand.”
“We felt peace and safety over our car, and we really thank God for that,” Libby said.
“There was a supernatural peace there. There was no freaking out. Everything came out the way it should.”
They called Jefferson Healthcare’s family birth center, and were met at the emergency room doors.
“Both of them were healthy,” Cortland said. “Henry’s temperature was a tiny bit low, but we think that’s because of the back door being wide open and freezing temperatures while he was born.”
The Waldrons warmed him up with blankets they kept in the car.
Libby said they preferred Jefferson Healthcare because of the experience they had with the nurses and the family birth center when their middle child was born there.
“Dr. [Stephen] Erickson’s been our doctor, and he’s just been really great,” she said. “The environment in the Port Townsend birth center is really different. We considered that worth the drive.
“Next time if my water breaks and we’re here, we’ll run down to [Olympic Medical Center] instead of making that drive.”
Cortland said Henry had a wellness visit in Port Townsend on Thursday, and he’s “gaining weight like a champ.”
Jefferson County Managing Editor Brian McLean can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 6, or at [email protected].