Ashley Saunders of Highland City, Florida, didn’t imagine giving birth three months early.
“I never thought I would have a complicated birth, my pregnancy was completely normal,” said Saunders. “I ended up feeling cramps — I said OK, this is weird, but it should be fine.”
Saunders, 25, told Atlanta Black Star that last February her water broke while she was at home, so the first-time mother called 911. But en route by ambulance to the Lakeland Regional Hospital baby Alexander couldn’t wait any longer.
“In the back of the ambulance, the EMT said, ‘OK, we’re going to get this done,’” Saunders explained.
This was a breech birth, and her son’s umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck. The EMTs called for backup, and firefighters from Engine 28 assisted with the delivery. The first responders relied on their training to deliver Alexander, but he was only 1 pound, 15 ounces. He was so small that first responders couldn’t find a pulse.
“They kept him on the oxygen mask, beating his chest, continually making sure he was good and fighting for his life,” Saunders said. “Doctors said it would be a miracle if he survived.”
While Alexander had to spend three months in the neonatal intensive care unit, his mom said he is now a healthy, beautiful and bouncing baby boy.
“He had, like, nine different specialists,” Saunders said. “All his specialists were surprised. Now he’s adjusted for three months since he came a whole three months early. So now he’s 9 months.”
Today Alexander loves chewy toys and his Elmo teether. “He loves to stand. Hasn’t been crawling yet, just backward right now,” Saunders added.
Stacey Walker, a certified midwife for A Plus Family care practice in Raleigh, North Carolina, says Alexander and his mom are very lucky.
“In baby Alexander’s case, having an umbilical cord wrapped around him can be normal, being breech can be normal for a 28 week-old baby. Being born at 28 weeks is not normal,” said Walker.
Twenty weeks to 32 weeks is considered preterm labor. According to the March of Dimes, babies born at less than 32 weeks would be considered in the category of very preterm.
Some symptoms of preterm labor include constant low dull backache, mild abdominal cramps and light bleeding.
“If you are showing any signs of preterm labor, you’ve got to reach out to your health care team,” explained Walker. “There are some risk factors that can be determined before you even have a baby to keep you safe. Having care before pregnancy is important. I’m glad Alexander is here and doing well.”
Saunders told Atlanta Black Star that she stops by the fire station every so often to thank the brave men she credits for saving her family.