Santa Fe, N.M Russell LeFevre learned how to birth a baby in nursing school using clamps, blankets, a suction bulb that clears a baby's mouth of mucus and other medical supplies.
When his wife's water broke in the front seat of a truck as it sped down an icy New Mexico highway in a snowstorm Tuesday, LeFevre just had his hands, some jackets and shoelaces.
It was enough.
His wife, Elizabeth, gave birth to a 6-pound, 11-ounce baby girl inside the truck on Old Las Vegas Highway between Canoncito and Santa Fe, The Santa Fe New Mexican reported. The family is well enough to go home to Canoncito on Wednesday.
Elizabeth LeFevre said she started having contractions around midnight Tuesday. The pains intensified enough that by 2 a.m., LeFevre, her husband Russell and their 3-year-old daughter loaded into a truck driven by her brother-in-law and headed for the hospital. They took the highway because Interstate 25 was shut down amid blizzard conditions.
"We got like two miles down the highway, and I told him there was probably no chance we were going to make it to the hospital," Elizabeth LeFevre said. "As soon as I said that, my water broke."
Russell LeFevre said that when he checked his wife after her water broke, the baby was already halfway out. The other half of the baby came out in minutes.
"I turned her (the baby) to the side and gave her a little back slap, and she coughed up some goop, and I wrapped her up in a jacket," he said.
He also put the placenta in a jacket.
Russell LeFevre works as a nurse's assistant at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe and had just graduated from nursing school Dec. 8, so he had some training.
"(But) in the moment I was totally unprepared to deliver a baby in my truck," he said. "I had shoelaces instead of clamps, and I was wiping out her mouth with my finger instead of a suction bulb. It was pretty wild."
During the birth, Russell LeFevre's brother Neil was on the phone with an emergency dispatch operator, who had been talking the family through the birth. The operator advised them to tie off the baby's umbilical cord with a shoelace.
After the baby was born, the family headed for a fire station near Eldorado, but no one answered when they banged on the door. They then approached a state police officer who gave them blankets and called an ambulance to take them to Christus St. Vincent.
The pair named the baby Joanna Mallory LeFevre.
Russell LeFevre said his 3-year-old daughter, Renee, was "so good" during the whole ordeal and tried to comfort his wife through her labor pains by patting her on the head and telling her, "It's going to be OK."
"It was amazing," Russell LeFevre said. "We got her into the ambulance and the paramedic said we did a great job. The baby was healthy and pink and crying."