VICENZA, Italy – When Capt. Jacob Bales heard his Italian neighbor Riccardo frantically knocking at his door in the middle of the night, he woke his spouse Kate.
At 2:35 a.m., Bales knew there was problem. His neighbor explained that his pregnant girlfriend, Alice, was in labor and they needed a ride to the hospital. Bales, 37, a military police officer who serves as an assistant operations officer for the 173rd Airborne Brigade at Caserma Del Din, called out to Kate, 36, a registered nurse, to come quickly.
As Kate walked over to their neighbor’s apartment, she called back to her husband, “Towels, towels, towels.” By the time Bales caught up to her a minute later, towels in hand, the baby was born.
“When I opened Alice and Riccardo’s door, I found Kate sitting in the living room floor, holding a newborn, Margherita,” Bales said.
May 12 is celebrated as Military Spouses Day. This Sunday, May 14, is also a special Mother’s Day for Alice, whose American neighbor – a U.S. Army spouse – helped deliver her daughter.
That morning, April 2, Kate delivered Margherita. She opened her airway so she could cry, cleaned her off, and put the baby on her mother’s chest to keep her warm. Then, they waited for Italian paramedics to arrive, watching patiently as ambulance lights drew closer to their San Pio X neighborhood adjacent to Caserma Ederle.
The parents, who asked The Garrison Outlook to only use their first names in this story, and their newborn, then went by ambulance to San Bortolo hospital for further care. Both mother and daughter are healthy and returned home five days later.
Soldiers train to perform under stress, to take the next step in challenging situations. In this case, Kate’s experience – 12 years in nursing – keeps her calm, Bales said. In 2013, while the couple was stationed at Fort Bragg, Kate helped delivered a baby while working at the emergency room in Lillington, North Carolina.
“The timeline for this whole event cannot be understated,” Bales said. “I woke up and within two to three minutes, Kate was holding a baby. It was that fast.”
Having Kate nearby during the deliver made Alice feel safe, she said.
“Maybe it was because she is a nurse or because of the good relationship that we have built,” Alice said. “That night, she made me feel really safe and was able to keep me calm. Especially, when she told me that Margherita was fine.”
Now, Jacob and Kate Bales are departing U.S. Army Garrison Italy for Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. They must say farewell to their Italian neighbors, but not before several chances to hold baby Margherita, an adorable blue-eyed girl whose looks resemble her father, Jacob Bales said.
“For me, it’s amazing watching Kate with her,” Bales said. “They will be forever connected. Kate’s the American neighbor who walked in out of nowhere and delivered her.”