ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. –“The pain was excruciating,” Chiquita Youngblood recalls as she crawled from the bed to her rocking chair while in labor and still in her residence on APG.
That September 21, 2022, morning began routinely, checking in with her office and prepping for a day of telework while dealing with weeklong Braxton-Hicks contractions, said Youngblood, a senior noncommissioned officer with the U.S. Army 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives Command. It was then that an 8 a.m. contraction let her know the baby was coming soon.
“I was like … I’m probably going to have the baby late tonight or tomorrow,” said Youngblood.
Youngblood and her husband, Russell, had prepared for this day, packing a hospital bag, putting the car seat in the car and inviting her mother, Purita Cobb, to come watch the Youngblood’s other two children, she said.
What Chiquita didn’t expect was to go into active labor that afternoon in her home with no one around.
“I had a real contraction, with severe pain and lasting over a minute, and I knew we needed to get to the hospital, but my husband wasn’t here; he went to get the kids,” said Chiquita.
The contractions were now six to seven minutes apart and the pain then caused her to fall to her knees, said Chiquita. Russell arrived home minutes later and called 911 after responding to Chiquita’s call for help.
“I told him the baby is coming, my water broke, the baby is coming,” Chiquita added.
Russell said the paramedics and subsequent firefighters were very responsive, arriving in less than five minutes.
As the call came through APG dispatch, veteran paramedic, Tim Richmond, who has responded to many pregnancy calls during his 32 years on job, said he believed this would be another routine call.
As more information was provided it sounded like it was going to be an active delivery and that made Richmond a little nervous, he said.
“For my part, I have never delivered a baby in the field,” said Richmond.
Richmond and fellow paramedic, Scott Kauffman, arrived with hopes of getting Chiquita to the hospital but didn’t know if they could move her safely downstairs with two of them, said Richmond. They called the firefighters for help.
Hopes for a hospital trip disappeared as the firefighters arrived and the baby started to crown, said Richmond.
With the help of firefighter and EMT, Marquesa Taylor, the first responders immediately prepared to help Chiquita deliver her baby, said Richmond, who was relieved to have Taylor present.
“For Marquesa to be in [the room] it was a tremendous amount of help,” said Richmond. “Having another female in there helped the patient relax a little bit, a little more comfortable.”
Part of the preparation was to move Chiquita to a different position for delivery away from the chair, but the pain was too much, she said.
“No, I can’t move, this is it,” said Chiquita in response to Richmond’s request to reposition her.
The pain wasn’t Chiquita’s only concern, she was worried about for her child’s successful delivery, she said.
A couple days prior during a routine visit, Chiquita’s physician told her the baby was turned the wrong way, she said.
“If [the baby] comes at the house and he is still facing the wrong direction, what’s going to happen?” said Chiquita.
Taylor said Chiquita looked distressed and as a mother herself, Taylor knows how painful and terrifying giving birth can be but wanted to make her patient as comfortable as possible.
Chiquita was reassured everything was going well and the baby was looking fine, said Taylor. Chiquita continued to breath, push and in 15 minutes delivered a baby boy who she and Russell named Noah.
Chiquita said while she was relieved to have had a successful delivery, she began to worry when Noah wasn’t making a sound.
In under a minute her worry was dispelled as Noah cried for the first time and was given to her to hold, she said.
Everyone was immediately in a sense of relief, but things were not over, said Chiquita.
“The contractions came right back,” said added.
The afterbirth had not come out despite continued efforts by paramedics, said Chiquita.
Firefighters took Chiquita and Noah to the ambulance and transported them to the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air.
Medical professionals were able to remove the afterbirth, provide the necessary checks on Noah and were discharged days later, said Chiquita.
Looking back on the entire event, Chiquita and Russell have nothing but positive things to say about the response, care and training of the APG first responders.
“I don’t know how we would have gotten through [the delivery],” said Chiquita. “They were very professional, helped keep me steady … they were all great.”
The event was challenging, exciting but also a learning opportunity, as hands-on experiences are the best opportunity to build confidence in yourself and your training, said Richmond.
“I felt confident we could handle this because of our training,” he said.
All APG first responders who were on the call were recognized for their service in a small ceremony at the APG North Fire Station, November 1.
According to APG emergency medical service officials, no home birth has taken place on the installation for more than 15 years.
As for the Youngbloods, when asked if Noah will be their last child their response was “You never know.”