By Reginald Rogers/ParaglideApril 15, 2011
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - The birth of a child is a memorable time for all parents. Many parents and grandparents opt to photograph or videotape the entire birthing process, while others choose to rely on photographic memories and diaries for documentation.
For one local couple, the birth of their third child will forever be engraved in their memories because, quite simply, they delivered her. Well sort of.
Sergeant John Valles, 31, and his wife Carly, 29, spent several hours at Womack Army Medical Center on Feb. 11, as Carly, who was near her due date, thought she was going into labor.
"At 3 a.m., my wife started having labor pains and we stayed home all day the following day," explained Valles, who along with wife Carly, has been at Fort Bragg 10 years. "We monitored the blood pressure machine and by the afternoon, her blood pressure got really high. She had a history of that throughout the pregnancy, so we decided to go on to Womack."
Valles said they checked in to the maternity area and Carly was hooked up to several monitors, which checked her blood pressure and contractions.
After about three and a half hours or so, an intern who worked in the maternity ward came and told them that her condition had stabilized and they would be released to go home.
Valles said he was concerned because no one had really checked to see if Carly had dilated more than she had when she came in.
They left the hospital and on the way home they stopped and picked up a friend, Jennifer Johnson, for moral support. While driving home Carly was obviously in a lot of pain and the couple determined she was in labor.
Valles said that by the time they arrived home, which is miles away from post along Raeford Road, the contractions continued to increase and became more intense.
"We have a friend who's a doula, so I grabbed the phone and called her to ask her advice," he explained. "While I was talking to her, my wife started screaming from the bedroom, so Jennifer, came and got me to come back in the room.
He said he never noticed if her water had broken because they think it may have happened earlier and that Carly may have had a high water leak.
Valles said he was trying to talk her through (the contractions) and their friend, Jennifer and the doula said he should call 911. Which is when the operator told him to check for a head.
"My first though was that it's not going to be a head, we're at home and this doesn't happen at home," he said. "But I checked and there was a head."
Valles said the 911 operator talked them through pushing and the contractions and once he and his wife got baby Gwendolyn's head delivered, the paramedics and fire department walked in; which was a good thing because the baby's head was turned sideways and her shoulder was stuck. Carly was in middle of a contraction when they arrived so they waited before a fireman placed a hand on Valles' shoulder and said they would take it from there.
"It's funny, but I can't tell you what was going through my mind during the whole process," Carly said. "It was pretty much instinct at that time." she said.
The couple has three girls, Avalon 3, Juliana 8, from a previous marriage and newborn Gwendolyn, who was born Feb. 12.
Carly said she was impressed with her husband's calm nerves throughout the delivery process.
"The thing that I most remember is my husband leaning down to me and looking scared for just a second, then saying, 'okay, we're going to have to do this here,' and as soon as I said okay, he said 'I love you and we'll be alright,' and, again, I said okay and he backed up from me and it was all business from that point," she said.
"He gave me that tender moment of 'wow, I'm a little scared, but we're going to do this,'" she said. "Then he was like, alright, let's have a baby. He was just all business and it was a very visible switch. I think he went from husband Johnny to business Johnny," Carly said.
"I kind of joked with my friends and told them that all I did was played catch," said Valles.
"My wife did all the work. She did a great job, she one hundred percent wanted an epidural and pain medication, but when it came down to it, she knocked it out like a champ. All I had to do was be there," Valles said.
"Gwen is beautiful, she's strong, she's healthy but she's rather colicky right now and we wonder if it's just the stress that she had to come into the world under," Carly said. "She's like, 'I'm not done crying about it yet.'"