It was a delivery that two expectant parents from St. Petersburg never could have dreamed of – taking a frantic, unscripted race to the hospital just a tad further than the classic bits from I Love Lucy or The Dick Van Dyke Show. But fortunately, an Emergency Center team from All Children’s scrambled into action early Easter Sunday morning to help ensure a happy ending to a memorable debut episode in the life of baby Elias Alexander Girau.
The pre-dawn hours of April 20 began quietly enough for Juliana “Julie” Fischer-Girau and husband Emilio Girau, and 4-year-old son Shaun Fischer. But then Julie went from feeling no contractions to a series of extremely strong ones, not at all like her first relatively uneventful delivery. Her water hadn’t broken but the couple knew it was time to get moving, and fast.
“I was like, ‘Okay, let’s go!’ ” Julie recalls. So they grabbed Shaun and began the 15-minute mad dash to downtown St. Petersburg at 6:15 a.m. – intended destination, Bayfront Baby Place, housed on the third floor of All Children’s yet with its own special entrance right next door to the ACH Emergency Center.
But the contractions quickly intensified, along with the parents’ pounding pulses, as their Prius reached the I-175 exit off of Interstate I-275, with the hospital in sight. That’s when Julie, seated in the front passenger seat, cried out, ‘Oh my gosh, my water just broke!” Seconds later, as Emilio gunned it down the ramp, she could feel the baby’s head emerging. “Then I felt another contraction,” Julie says, “and he just popped out completely.”
As Emilio made a right turn on Fourth Street, both parents breathed a momentary sigh of relief when they heard the baby cry. They sped up 6th Avenue South in a surreal frenzy, now intent on getting off the road to deal with the crisis. As it happened, their first possible turn was right into the All Children’s welcome circle.
Emilio leaped out of the driver’s seat and ran to get help in the ACH lobby. Yet in a move worthy of Rob Petrie in the vintage Dick Van Dyke “baby” episode, he failed to put the car in park. And as if things weren’t crazy enough, it began to roll down around the circle toward the street.
Instinctively, Julie pulled the baby from inside her clothing and – with umbilical cord still attached – placed him on the passenger seat. Then she crawled across the gear-shift console into the driver’s seat and hit the brakes before the car could pick up any speed.
Moments later, Emilio returned with All Children’s security guard Kevin Kendall, an employee with fewer than 90 days on the job. It was Kevin who had immediately put out the emergency triage call, and then stood outside Julie’s door re-assuring her while they waited for help. “I didn’t know his name, but he was great,” Julie says. “He really helped calm me down.”
Emilio calmed down as well, after numerous nervous laps pacing around the car. He and Shaun stood watch over the baby on the passenger’s side. That’s when an All Children’s Emergency Center team ran around the corner to handle the chaotic scene unfolding in front of the hospital.
Dr. Wassam Rahman was the emergency department physician who arrived to help, while nightshift paramedic Rich Behers, a military man new to All Children’s, cut the umbilical cord, and nightshift RN Mandy Dix cared for Julie. Without missing a beat, she was placed on a gurney and taken with the baby into the All Children’s EC, where nurses Jen Labato and Christine Schaad delivered the placenta and cared for the emotionally drained mom, and a host of others assisted as well.
“It was a true team effort,” says ACH Executive Director of Nursing and Patient Support Services Susan Byrd, “What began as a triage call really ended up with our people improvising on the spot and doing a wonderful job.”
Amazingly, after all the heart-pounding drama, everyone was doing fine. And soon after, mother and baby were admitted to the Bayfront Baby Place – with a happy big brother and exhausted dad in tow.
“I was just so grateful for the excellent work by everyone who helped us,” Julie says, reflecting on the ordeal. “Everything worked out great in the end. And one thing’s for sure, Elias is going to have a real story to tell for the rest of his life.”
And one that stands proudly alongside Desi, Lucy and Dick – with a helping hand from All Children’s.