It was certainly not smooth sailing as Stephanie and Hugh Dawson rushed to get to the hospital in time for their baby’s delivery on Sunday morning in the Chesapeake, Virginia, area.
“She woke me up of course and told me that she was having contractions and it was time to go,” Hugh Dawson, 32, told ABC News of the frantic situation at 3:45 a.m. “We had a couple false contractions thinking that the baby was coming, but this time it was for sure.”
Many obstacles kept the couple from delivering their newborn, who was originally due on Jan. 1, with ease, but, “It could’ve been a lot worse,” said Stephanie Dawson, 28, keeping a positive outlook on the otherwise treacherous trip.
The Snow Storm
“Knowing we had the snow we had, and that everything was frozen over -- it was mostly icy, snowy, blizzard weather -- I needed to get the car started and get scraping to get the windshield clear,” Hugh recalled. “I got the truck started and defrosted, but then my sister-in-law who lives next door, who we called to watch our 4-year-old daughter while we went to the hospital, was also bringing me warm water to pour on the windshield to get it going faster. There was no time to waste.”
The couple lives in Moyock, North Carolina, which Hugh said is about seven minutes from their door to the Virginia border.
Stephanie had planned to deliver at Sentara Princess Anne Hospital in Virginia Beach because she is a nurse for the group’s heart hospital, but those plans were derailed.
“We started going down the highway to get to the hospital,” Hugh said. “We were supposed to be going to in Virginia Beach, which on a normal day would be about 35 minute away, but with the snow and everything, with no real cleared path, it took three times as long. Steph said we weren’t going to make it to the Virginia Beach one, so we were heading to the Chesapeake one.”
Just as they thought they were in the clear after choosing the nearer hospital, Hugh’s truck broke down.
“I’m pulling off the exit to get on the road to the hospital we’re going to now, and on the off-ramp we’re now coasting because it’s a steep, tight turn,” he said. “As I’m getting into the merge lane, I’m already freaking out and when I go to press the gas, nothing happens. It had stalled out. I didn’t have time to figure out the diagnosis."
“Stephanie said her contractions were about two minutes apart,” Hugh added. “I jump out of the truck and as she’s hollering at me, I’m going across the road to flag down a plow that was going the other way.”
About a half a mile from Chesapeake Regional Medical Center, Hugh flagged down the snow plow and was “pleading with them” for a ride, he said.
“I almost jumped into the road to make sure this guy stops,” the frenzied father-to-be explained. “I said, ‘My wife is in labor. Please help me get to the hospital.’ They were looking around at each other like, ‘Who is this strange man who just jumped out of his truck?’ Luckily enough they told us they’d give us a ride. They turned around at the next intersection and dropped us off at the hospital.”
The Locked Doors
The parents were finally safe and sound at the hospital -- or so they thought.
“We get up to the front door, but the front doors were locked so we trucked it around to the back to the ER and jumped ahead to let them know my wife’s in labor,” Hugh said.
“The doors are locked overnight for security purposes and the Emergency Department is the only way to enter,” Pamela Cox, the hospital’s media relations specialist, told ABC News. “The front doors are locked from 9 p.m. until 5 a.m.”
By this time, Stephanie was having contractions every minute and a half.
“Stephanie said, ‘I’m ready to push,’ and they were right on spot,” Hugh said of the hospital staff. “This was at 4:50 or 5 a.m.”
The couple had to complete the hospital’s paperwork after delivery because “the baby was coming,” he said. “It was go time.”
The Happy, Healthy Delivery
Their baby son, Brayden, was born at 5:21 a.m., weighing 6 pounds 13 ounces.
“Within 15 minutes of coming through the door, the baby was out and healthy,” said the proud father. “Without the snow plow, we probably would’ve had the baby in the truck so it was a huge blessing they were coming at just the right time.”
As for the anonymous snow-plowers who saved the day?
“I’ve tried finding out and looking up local snow removal companies around the area,” Hugh said of trying to track the men down. “It was a white truck with a big black casing on the back of it. I don’t remember seeing any actual logos or wording around it. I was hoping maybe if it makes the news we can find out to thank them because without them it would’ve been a lot worse.”
Stephanie said she also hopes to locate the mystery men.
“I want to say thank you. Thank you so much for stopping,” she said. “They were on their way to do something. They definitely could’ve just kept going.”
The happy family hopes to return home today with their new bundle of joy. There’s just one last hiccup: Hugh needs to get his truck out of impound first. It had been towed after being left on the side of the road.
Despite all the hurdles along the way, “Everybody’s doing just great,” Stephanie said.