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Woman gives birth on the side of the road in Harford County, with help from her doula and a 911 dispatcher

Woman gives birth on the side of the road in Harford County, with help from her doula and a 911 dispatcher
Alyssa Lightner shortly after giving birth to her son Asher in a truck on the side of the rode in Abingdon. (Alyssa Lightner)

Baby Asher couldn’t wait.

Two minutes after a call to 911, Alyssa Lightner’s newborn son was delivered in the passenger seat of a GMC Terrain truck on Calvary Road, near Philadelphia Road in Abingdon on Wednesday night.

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Lightner, 31, already the mother of three children, was on the way to the hospital, but said she knew it was time and delivery could not wait. With aid from her doula — who was in the car with Lightner — and a 911 operator, Asher was born.

“The next thing I know, [the doula] was pulling the baby out,” Lightner said from Upper Chesapeake Medical Center, where Lightner and her newborn son were eventually taken by an ambulance.

Lightner said she first felt contractions around 4 p.m. Wednesday when she was still at work as a case worker for Mosaic Community Services, which helps adults with mental illness in Belcamp.

Lightner wanted to spend as little time in the hospital as she could. She delivered her twins by cesarean section in 2009, and in 2013, she said she was in the hospital overnight before giving birth to her now-4-year-old daughter.

“I thought, ‘I’m going to wait until I don’t have to wait anymore,” Lightner said.

She said she left home at 9:15 p.m. to head to the hospital but the contractions were stronger. Then, her water broke.

“When I felt the need to push, I thought, here we go,” Lightner said.

Her doula pulled over, and Lightner said she couldn’t get the front passenger seat to recline. She couldn’t move, so she put her feet up on the dashboard and began to push.

Harford County spokeswoman Cindy A. Mumby said 911 dispatch received a call from them at 9:23 p.m.

John Rigdon, a 911 operator who is still in training, took the call with his supervisor, Brittney Kane.

Rigdon said he’s revived other calls from women in labor and usually the first question he asks is whether the baby is showing.

“Nine out of 10” times, the answer is no, he said. But over screams from Lightner, the caller told him calmly, “yes, all of it” — and the baby was born about two minutes later.

Lightner said she listened to her body, her doula and Rigdon, who told her to stay calm and that an ambulance was on the way. Lightner said she wasn’t concerned about the labor, but whether her son would be safe and healthy.

“What if the chord is around his neck? Could he be hit by a car,” she recalled wondering.

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She tried to remain calm and push. Asher was born at 9:25 p.m., Mumby said.

“I saw his face, he was perfect,” and she felt relief at the sight, she said. He barely cried.

Rigdon said he stayed on the line about three more minutes until the ambulance arrived from the Abingdon Fire Company arrived, and Lightner and her son were placed on a stretcher and taken to Upper Chesapeake.

“It was a very rewarding night,” he said, crediting Lighter’s doula for her calmness. Of all the calls he’s received for women in labor, he said this is the first one who actually gave birth while he was on the phone.

Alyssa Lightner and her son, Asher.
Alyssa Lightner and her son, Asher. (Alyssa Lightner)

Once the mother and baby finally arrived at the hospital, doctors gave Asher a clean bill of health. He weighed 5 pounds and 9 ounces, and measured 18½ inches long.

Rigdon later called the hospital to make sure she was safe, Lightner said.

Lightner said she’s not sure if she will have more children, but if she does, she plans to have her fifth at home in the tub, in a calmer environment.

“We women know what to do naturally,” she said. During her past pregnancies, she said the hospital staff can be pushy, and try to dictate labor.

“We know when to push. Every since last night, I know I can do that,” she said.

She said she regrets that her husband wasn’t there for Asher’s birth, but he’s been home with their other children.

She expects to go home Friday morning, when she will get to introduce Asher to his siblings — who have already seen his picture and talked to him over FaceTime.

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