Cara Staten wanted to have a non-traditional child birth experience, but having her baby in a van on the side of the Midland Park Road in North Charleston was more unusual than she expected.
She and her husband, Air Force Staff Sgt. Adam Staten, and their doula, Lesley Singleton, were headed to the Charleston Birthing Center on May 18, where the couple was planning a peaceful water birth. But her baby boy, Silas, couldn’t wait until they got there.
Silas is Cara’s second child, so she was pretty calm when she started having contractions early on a Saturday morning. She called Singleton, who came to the family’s home on Joint Base Charleston.
Singleton was in the doula training process and the Statens were her first clients.
A doula is modern-day labor coach, trained to physically and emotionally help a woman through labor, but isn’t a midwife who delivers babies.
Everything was going as planned.
When Cara’s contractions were five minutes apart, the Statens got in their brand -new van and headed to the birthing center. Singleton followed in her car. For reasons he still can’t explain, Adam grabbed two towels on the way out the door.
They all were calm and ready for the birth that they thought would happen at the birthing center, less than a half-hour away.
But soon after they left the base, Adam called Singleton and told her to pull over because the baby was coming.
“My baby started pushing and I said, ‘I’m not going to make it,’ ” Cara said.
Singleton abandoned her car on the side of the road and hopped in the van, hoping to calm Cara until they got to the center. Within minutes, she knew they weren’t going to make it.
Adam pulled over. Singleton put the towels on back seat of the van and Cara began to give birth. Adam was in the front seat, using two cellphones to call 911 and their midwife for help.
He was talking to a 911 dispatcher, he said, when Singleton yelled, “I can see the baby’s head.”
Cara was saying to herself in disbelief, “I’m having a baby in the van.” And she was worrying about messing it up. “It was a brand- new van.”
Then Singleton shouted, “I caught him. I caught him.”
The 911 dispatcher told Adam he needed to find something to tie off the cord. He suggested using a shoelace.
Adam tossed his shoe back to Singleton, who couldn’t untie the knot. So she used a free piece of the shoelace, and tied off the cord with the shoe attached.
Cara and Singleton marveled at baby Silas, who appeared a whitish-blue color at first.
“But then he flushed pink all over and started to cry,” Singleton said. He was perfect.
Adam’s taking the entire incident in stride. “We didn’t leave in time,” he said. “Put it that way.”
Cara said she was fine except for a severe bruise on the back of her head from pushing against a cup holder. It really wasn’t that bad, she said. “At least it didn’t happen on the interstate.”