A child in a hurry is born in the seat of a Mazda as a 911 dispatcher delivers instructions.
By TAMARA LUSH, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 31, 2002
TAMPA -- As she sat in the passenger seat of her friend's 1995 Mazda Protege, Iris Montgomery knew her baby would be born any second.
"I was just scared," said Montgomery, 23, who went into labor Tuesday in her friend's driveway in east Tampa. "But I knew God was my doctor. He had my family there helping out."
Her friend, Matesha Pringle, shouted the only advice she could think of.
"Don't push!" Someone in the neighborhood yelled for Velma Brown, a neighbor with nurse training and a no-nonsense attitude.
Brown, barefoot and wearing a green sun dress, ran across the dirt driveway and stepped over a small wire fence to get to Montgomery.
"I felt like a midwife," Brown said.
A handful of other friends opened the Mazda's four doors and climbed in. They stroked Montgomery's hair, held her arms and told her that she would be okay.
Montgomery, six days shy of her due date with her second child and miles from the nearest hospital, started to cry.
Pringle dialed 911, and shakily told Tampa Fire Rescue dispatcher Mayra Uhlig that her friend was in labor. Her shakiness turned to a shriek.
"The baby's head is out!" Pringle said.
"Listen to my instructions," Uhlig said firmly.
"You are going to have to deliver this baby."
Uhlig gave Pringle instructions, and Pringle shouted them to Brown. A few seconds went by.
"He's out!" Pringle told Uhlig. "The baby's out."
As Uhlig told Pringle to wrap the baby in a clean towel, everyone started to scream.
The umbilical cord was wrapped twice around the baby's neck. "Honey, you need to get that cord unwrapped," Uhlig told Pringle.
Brown, who later said that in addition to nurse training she has "watched a lot of medical shows on TV," slipped her index and middle fingers between the cord and the baby's neck, then slipped the cord over his head. They gently placed the baby on Montgomery's chest.
"He's awake," Pringle said into the phone.
"Is it a boy or girl?" asked Uhlig.
"Congratulations, you did a great job," Uhlig said.
Montgomery and the baby were taken to Tampa General Hospital. Keysean La'ron Washington was 4 pounds, 15 ounces and 18 inches long.
While surrounded by television cameras Wednesday, Montgomery thanked Uhlig, Pringle and Brown for their help.
As she listened to the 911 tape of Pringle's frantic call, Montgomery looked at her son. Tears streamed down her cheeks.
"He's my miracle baby," she said.