“The baby is coming”: Virginia Beach woman barely makes it to hospital where EMTs help her deliver

Traci Wagner banged her fist on the passenger side window and screamed in pain.

Her husband, Nick, pressed the gas pedal harder as he drove south on North Great Neck Road. They sailed through a red light at Old Donation Parkway.

Sentara Princess Anne Hospital was still eight miles away when Traci screamed again.

They weren’t going to make it.

The baby was coming.

“You better get in the car or I’m leaving you”

Nothing about this pregnancy had been expected.

The couple went through fertility treatments five years ago before Traci got pregnant with their son, Caleb. They were told they wouldn’t have any more children , but last summer, Traci found out she was pregnant again with her third child. She didn’t want to know the baby’s gender until she gave birth.

Traci was told her due date was Feb. 28 but she was scheduled for a cesarean section March 2.

On Feb. 26, Traci and Nick sat down to watch the TV show “24” at 10 p.m. when she started to feel pressure on her pelvis. By 10:12 p.m., she knew she was in labor.

Nick tried to call the hospital, thinking it was probably a false alarm.

Traci knew better.

“You better get in the car or I’m leaving you,” she told him.

They found a babysitter for Caleb and headed out.

“We need an ambulance”

The first call to 911 came at 10:34 p.m.

Nick said they were on North Great Neck Road nearing Virginia Beach Boulevard. Dispatcher Brant Schultheis, who also is a volunteer with Ocean Park Volunteer Rescue Squad, asked Nick if he wanted an ambulance to meet them somewhere.

“I’m gonna keep going,” Nick told him. “I’m gonna try to get there.”

They didn’t even make it to the interstate. When they pulled into the parking lot of an Asian market, her contractions were four minutes apart.

Nick reached Schultheis when he called again.

“I think I just talked to you, actually. My wife is in labor,” Nick said. “We need an ambulance.”

Traci couldn’t recline her seat because of the car seat behind it, so she walked around to the back of their SUV.

Schultheis grilled Nick: How was his wife feeling? Did she have the urge to push? She did.

“Do you want instructions on how to help?” Schultheis asked.

“Um,” Nick said, pausing. “Sure.”

He knelt down to see if the baby’s head was showing. A couple walking their dog came by and asked if everything was OK.

“Just labor!” Nick said.

Shortly after, Nick heard the “sweetest thing.”

Sirens. The paramedics had arrived.

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Virginia Beach Volunteer Rescue Squad
Traci Wagner hugs Karen Cassidy an EMT inside the Virginia Beach Volunteer Rescue Squad, Station 14. Traci and her husband Nick had to pull off North Great Neck Road on their way to the hospital in February and call for paramedics. Their daughter, Layla, was delivered on the EMS stretcher as Traci entered the delivery room at Sentara Princess Anne Hospital. Traci wanted to meet and thank the people who helped deliver her baby.

“The baby is coming”

EMT Stephanie McKinney asked Traci if she had learned any breathing exercises in a birthing class. She hadn’t, so McKinney walked her through it.

In through your nose. Out through your mouth. Repeat.

Traci did it once, then went back to screaming.

When they got to the hospital, Nick watched the paramedics wheel in Traci on a stretcher while he parked the car.

Another EMT, Karen Cassidy, stayed with him so she could escort him to the delivery room.

Traci was pushed through the emergency room entrance and down a long hallway. They were nearly to the delivery room when Traci knew she couldn’t wait any longer.

“The baby is coming,” she said.

“No, you have time,” a nurse replied.

Tom Benadum, a paid paramedic with Virginia Beach EMS, has delivered 10 babies in his 21-year career.

“The baby is coming,” he said.

They got Traci’s stretcher right next to the hospital bed in the delivery room, but there was no time to move her.

A nurse pushed Benadum out of the way so she could catch the baby. McKinney stayed by Traci and coached her through a natural delivery .

It was 11:04 p.m.

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Virginia Beach Volunteer Rescue Squad
Two-month-old Layla Wagner sits in her mother’s lap inside the Virginia Beach Volunteer Rescue Squad, Station 14. Layla came early in February, and Traci Wagner and her husband, Nick, had to pull off North Great Neck Road on their way to the hospital and call for paramedics.

“We don’t have anyone in labor”

Cassidy took Nick to the check-in desk and told the woman there that his wife was in labor.

“We don’t have anyone in labor,” she told them. “But someone did just have a baby.”

Both couldn’t believe they had missed it.

Nick was asked if he wanted to know the baby’s gender, but he was still processing what had happened.

He learned his wife had given birth to a girl. They named her Layla.

Later, Benadum delivered another surprise: The couple wouldn’t have to pay a dime for the ambulance or the medics because the rescue squad relies solely on donations.

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