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July 29, 2013

Conn. mom gives birth on highway, guided by dad and dispatcher

The Hartford Courant

HARTFORD, Conn. — It wasn't the way they had planned it. There was no hospital room and there were no doctors or nurses, but with the help of a 911 dispatcher, Curt and Natalie Walker brought their new baby into the world in a car, in the dark, on I-91 in Wethersfield.

It was about 3 a.m. Friday, and the soon-to-be parents were en route from their home in Middletown to St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford. It was raining, and despite his wife's screams, Walker said he didn't want to drive too fast.

Then his wife said they were going to have to call 911. Walker was connected to dispatcher Paula Freeman, and he pulled the car over near Exit 27 northbound.

Freeman, who has helped deliver two other babies via phone during her 27 years as a dispatcher with the Connecticut State Police, told Walker that she would guide him through the delivery.

Walker said his first thought was: "There's no way."

"Things happen so quickly when you answer the 911s," Freeman said. "You learn to relate to people that are in distress, whatever the reason."

She talked Walker through the delivery of his daughter, Rian Madison Walker.

"I knew I had to do exactly what she said," Curt Walker said in an interview from the hospital room Friday.

When the baby cried, Freeman said, "Everything just seemed to take on a level of peace."

An ambulance arrived shortly thereafter to take the mother, father and baby to the hospital.

All dispatchers are trained to help with deliveries, said Lt. J. Paul Vance of the state police. Freeman, who said she spent several years as an EMT, has been trained to deliver a baby herself but has never had the opportunity.

About two years ago, Freeman assisted with the delivery of a baby in a Manchester home when the parents called 911. She also guided another couple caught on the highway through the delivery of their child, who was born on I-84 near Southington, she said.

"It's what makes it worth it," Freeman said. "You think about your ugly days and then you think about something like this."

"Our dispatcher was calm, cool and collected and guided the mother and father through the whole process," Vance said.

Walker said the experience was awesome, if a little frightening.

"Never in a million years did I think I would have the opportunity to deliver my own daughter," he said.

Walker and his wife hope to take Rian home on Sunday.

As for the car that served as a delivery room, Walker said the vehicle will now carry fonder memories.

"I cursed that car so many times. I wanted to get rid of it," he said. "Now it's kind of to the point that I don't want to."

Copyright 2013 The Hartford Courant

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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