‘Twas two days before Christmas when within the house, a soon-to-be mother began having contractions.
Erica and Davon Thomas were expecting their first child on Christmas Day, but around 11 p.m. on December 23, Erica’s contractions began.
On Christmas Eve morning, the contractions worsened – but the Thomas’ couldn’t leave their home as the snow from the winter storm had piled up about halfway up the front door of their Buffalo home, Davon told SME.
The soon-to-be father called 911 for help and was told they’d attempt to get an emergency vehicle there as soon as possible. When he called again later, he was told responders had attempted to get to their house but couldn’t.
“I started thinking, ‘Well, how is my baby going to get delivered safely?’” Davon told SME.
That’s when he realized they were going to be doing this alone.
Davon called Jeter Jr., a close friend. He posted the request to help on a Buffalo group Facebook.
Many people left feedback, offering help or sharing their numbers. Raymonda Reynolds (a doula with five years of experience) was one of them.
Reynolds and Davon spoke at 1:05 p.m. Davon was concerned for Reynolds’ wife and child.
“I’m so happy they chose me, there was a lot of people they could’ve called.” Reynolds told SME.
Reynolds said she could hear Erica in the background – clearly in labor – as she began telling Davon what to do.
“It was straight tunnel vision,” Davon recalled. “I realized how important this was and all nerves went away.”
With Reynolds’ guidance, he grabbed towels, a pair of sanitized scissors and a bowl from the kitchen (to catch the placenta).
They eventually connected via videochat so that the doula could assist them better.
“I kept telling Erica to take deep breaths,” Reynolds said, “I was trying to keep them calm and reassure them.”
As Erica walked around the house in pain, Davon’s job was to follow her closely.
Reynolds added Iva Blackburn as a friend and doula to the conversation. “She brought that extra comfort with the medical background,” Reynolds said.
Two doulas, Davon and Mary on video chat, suggested that Davon examine the baby with a flashlight.
As he put the phone down to check, Erica yelled, “The baby’s crowning!”
Erica then described a burning sensation and gave out what Reynolds described as “a primal moan.”
As Erica squatted, Davon placed a stack of towels under her. The room was quiet, and then Erica shouted: “She’s here!”
“We started screaming like it was a Buffalo Bills touchdown,” Reynolds said. “It was the most beautiful thing I’ve been a part of.”
Devynn Briell Thomas was conceived at 3:31 on December 24, and weighed 6 pounds, 9ozs and measured 20 inches in length.
The doulas advised the new parents to clean Devynn’s mouth and nose, and ensure skin-to-skin contact with mom. After that, Devynn let out her first cry.
They stayed in touch with their couple via phone to assist with post-birth care and cut the umbilical cord.
“I couldn’t have done it without them,” Davon said, adding he and his wife were in shock. “It was very comforting knowing they were there.”
And it’s social media that made it possible. Facebook “can be messy sometimes, but it can be life saving and life changing,” Reynolds said.
After the successful birth, the family’s next task was to get mom and baby to the hospital, despite the snowstorm. Davon was notified by a text message that assistance was coming at around 4:30 am on Christmas Day
Angel Lugo’s family had seen the post on Facebook and his sister told Davon Lugo would come take them to the hospital, he said.
The snowfall prevented Lugo from parking at the family’s house, so the new mom, dad and baby had to trek through three blocks of knee-deep snow to the car. “We had to walk through quite a bit of snow,” Davon added. “It was like a scene out of a movie.”
Davon said his family arrived back home on Tuesday safe and sound, and Erica and Devynn are “both doing wonderful.”
They plan to meet the doulas that helped them get through the experience face-to-face once the snow has melted.