By Chea Waters Evans, News Editor
A regular Monday morning turned into an extraordinary one this week for Willa and Eric Lampman. Thirty-five weeks and six days into her pregnancy with twins, Willa went into labor at their home in Charlotte and ended up delivering the babies shortly afterward—one while they were still at home. “It’s wild!” Willa said. She and both babies are doing great.
While getting her day started with her 22-month-old son, Willa felt a contraction at 7:45 a.m. and made a call to her obstetrician at University of Vermont Medical Center. “By the sound of my breathing she was like, you’re not going to make it, you need to call 911,” Willa said.
It’s a good thing they called when they did—even though Charlotte Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services showed up before 10 minutes had passed, baby number one was almost there. Luckily, Eric’s mother was able to come over in time to pick up their older son before first responders’ ambulance arrived.
“I thought we were going to get in the ambulance and go to the hospital, and I was going to get an epidural, and we were going to have a baby,” Willa said. Because her daughter was still in the breech position, she was expecting a birth by C-section anyway. But it wasn’t to be.
When CVFRS Deputy Fire Chief Rob Mullin and AEMT Arron Barney arrived, two members of the Lampman family were on the floor in the bathroom—one giving moral support, one in serious labor—and a third was on her way.
Barney got to the scene right in time; this was his first time delivering a baby. “The rumor is that when he got in the bathroom the baby’s legs were already out,” Willa said. “I had no idea we were that close! He caught her out of mid-air, it felt like.”
Mullin said that Barney did an excellent job on his own. “I went to get some equipment, and I came back and Arron was holding a baby girl,” he said.
Though Barney, who was spending the day riding along with Mullin as part of the process to be hired as a crew chief, hadn’t delivered a baby before, he had participated in 80 hours of OB training as part of his paramedic training in Lake Placid, N.Y., where he grew up and still works as a paramedic. Though he had never quite participated in a delivery during that time, he said the outward calm he projected reflected his inner state. Mullin allowed him to take the lead without hesitation.
Willa said Barney and Mullin’s professionalism and skills helped make a scary situation feel manageable. “Arron jumped in there, and he was so cool as a cucumber, and ten minutes later we had a baby girl,” she said. “I was definitely freaking out, but Arron and Rob handled it so beautifully, and they made me feel like they had the situation under control.”
“It felt like slow motion, like getting ready to take off in a plane, where everything was set the way it needed to be,” he said. A lot of his training involved keeping people calm and giving them support, he said, which is a valuable skill in a high-pressure situation like this. Though he practiced on mannequins and spent a lot of time in the classroom, he said, “You can only learn so much from a Powerpoint.”
Baby number one was born at 8:20 a.m., just 35 minutes after her first contraction. Mullin said they were dispatched from the station at 8:08 and took four minutes to reach the Lampman’s home in West Charlotte.
Shelburne Rescue was on the scene as well, and Mullin said he was grateful for their professionalism. “It went really, really well—with everything that could have gone wrong and didn’t… it was like clockwork.” Barney noted that, even though he had never met the Shelburne first responders, “It was like we had been working together for 15 years.”
After the first baby was born, Barney rode with Willa in the CVFRS ambulance to UVMMC, the baby rode in an assisting ambulance from Shelburne, and Eric followed in his own car. The second baby, a boy, was born in the emergency department with CVFRS still on hand. The girl is named Rhodes, a name the Lampmans had already chosen, but they thought they had a little more time to think of the boy’s name, and in the excitement of the week they haven’t been able to choose yet. Both babies by Tuesday night were getting ready to transition out of the NICU and back to their parents.
After acknowledging that Willa did the hard work of the morning, Mullin said that Eric deserved a lot of credit for his demeanor during the birth as well, and that both of them were a pleasure to help. “Eric was a trooper, both of them were great—very well mannered and very well behaved. He didn’t get in the way, he did what we told him to do—it was just a good, good call. It’s a great way to start out the new year.”
They are grateful for healthy babies—who ended up being born in two different towns—and the Lampmans are also grateful for CVFRS and Shelburne Rescue. “These guys deserve a gold medal,” Willa said. “They were so amazing…They’re really good at delivering babies. They can add that to their resumé. We are so grateful to our first responders.”