Piper Northrop celebrated her 5th birthday on Wednesday the same way her parents, Amy and Larry Northrop, celebrated her birth – with the staff of Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical Station No. 4, 2121 Wakarusa Drive. The Northrops brought the station doughnuts and pink cupcakes.
They visit the station every year for Piper’s birthday; it’s their way of staying in touch and saying thank you for helping with Piper’s birth in 2008.
“These gentlemen here, they’re as much a part of our family as aunts and uncles,” Larry said. “ ... The Northrop family will always reach out to Station No. 4.”
Unlike some at-home births, Piper’s wasn’t planned. After a case of the flu caused Amy to have false labor pains two days prior to Piper being born, the Northrops had decided for Amy to be induced at Overland Park Regional Hospital the morning of Feb. 27. Everything was prepared the night before — bags were packed, and Amy and Larry had scheduled for a baby sitter to watch their three sons while they were away.
However, as the night began Amy started to feel pains again. Because of the incident a couple days before, she attributed the pain to false labor. When she went to bed around midnight, she had a giant contraction and knew quickly that it was time for Piper to be born. She woke up Larry and they weighed their options, and then Larry called 9-1-1.
On the birth certificate, Larry is listed as the doctor. Piper was delivered just before the firefighters arrived and luckily, the birth wasn’t complicated. Amy gave several pushes and Piper came out. Larry grabbed her, put her on Amy’s chest to hold and covered the two up. When it came time for him to cut the umbilical cord, he could hear the fire truck and decided to wait for the professionals to do it.
“By the time we were there all the hard work was over,” Lt. Miguel Armenta, one of the paramedics on-scene, said.
After making sure that Piper and Amy were stable, the medics took the two to Lawrence Memorial Hospital.
After Amy and Piper were released from the hospital, they went to Station No. 4 to thank the six men who helped make sure the two were well before sending them to LMH.
“There’s no rhyme or reason, we just wanted to let them know how much it meant to us,” Amy said.
Since then, the Northrop family has kept in contact with the station. The Northrops often stop there with doughnuts, and every year on Piper’s birthday the family goes to Station No. 4 to celebrate and say thanks one more time.
“I think there’s a real connection here for us,” Armenta said. “A lot of times we don’t really stay in touch but we try to keep track of her.”
The contact isn’t just the Northrops’ doing. Some of the men who were there for Piper’s birth get her cards and gifts for her birthday and the station even has a board of photos, cards and mementos from Piper hanging up.
The station sometimes gets calls that don’t have a happy ending, so helping to welcome a person into the world is special to the crew.
“It’s more uplifting,” Capt. Mark Elliott said. “These types of calls are very rare and it picks you up and stays with you.”