Story and photo by Sgt. Courtney E. Marulli
4th Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office, 4th Infantry Division
Many Soldiers are fathers who have held the hands of their loving wives as they bring a child into the world. But, not every Soldier father has had to deliver his own child.
Chief Warrant Officer 3 John L. Blanton, the tactical aviation officer for 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, did just that March 17, when he delivered his fourth child, Abigail Rose Blanton.
Blanton said he came into work early when his wife, Lisa, called saying her contractions were not consistent, but she had a large one that made her think she was going into labor.
“I didn’t think she was going into actual labor, I just assumed they were Braxton Hicks (false labor) contractions, but I didn’t want to take any chances,” he said.
Immediately, Blanton said he got into his vehicle and drove home. When he was a minute from his house he called home and talked to Katie, his 16-year-old daughter who was taking care of her mother.
“I told her to help Lisa to the front door so I could meet her and take her to the hospital,” he said. “And Katie said ‘she’s not going anywhere’.”
Pulling into his driveway, Blanton said he rushed inside to find his wife on her side. He called 911 and was instructed by the operator to roll his wife onto her back and support her head.
Katie and Emily, Blanton’s 8-year-old daughter, helped gather towels and blankets. Katie escorted Emily from the room so she wouldn’t witness anything.
Blanton said Lisa had a contraction that broke her water and he saw the baby start to crown.
Telling 911 he needed both hands, Blanton set the phone down and prepared to deliver his child.
“I was coaching her through the proper breathing exercises and I told her to push,” he said. “The head produced itself and I gently grabbed the head and rotated it and ensured the neck was clear and the umbilical cord wasn’t around the neck.”
Blanton said he doesn’t know how he knew what to do, but he has three other children and as a result has educated himself on difficult births and other topics.
Continuing to coach his wife’s breathing, Blanton waited for the next contraction and the baby’s shoulders came out and then the baby slid into his hands.
“My daughter, Katie, ran to get the suction bulb,” he said. “I cleared the nose and throat. I then patted her on the back and she started breathing and crying.”
Approximately two minutes later, the paramedics arrived with the proper equipment and clamped the umbilical cord and cleaned up the baby, he said.
“I got to cut the cord,” he said, never having done it before.
The baby was laid on Lisa’s chest and she was loaded onto a stretcher and put into an ambulance, he said. Katie rode with her mother, while Emily and Tyler, Blanton’s 14-year-old son, rode with him.
Blanton said Lisa was taken to a delivery room and the children went with her. He went to the nursery and helped clean his daughter and get the wrist bands. Abigail weighed 7 pounds, 7 ounces and was 19.5 inches long.
“I took the baby back in to Mom and we had breakfast,” he said. “It made for one eventful St. Patrick’s Day.”
Blanton said he will never forget that moment.
“I felt very proud,” he said. “Proud of my wife. She did all the work. I just caught the baby. If there is a hero, it’s her and not me. I am very proud of my wife.”
Blanton said everything happened so fast he didn’t have time to get nervous, and he just went with what he knew and prayed everything would turn out ok.
“And by the grace of God, everything happened as it should,” he said. “It was a normal birth and everyone is happy and healthy.”
Blanton credits his Army training for helping him during the birth.
“I can honestly say Army training helped me in staying calm and collected during stressful and or emergency situations,” he said.
Katie also stayed calm for the entire birth.
“Katie was a champ,” he said. “She was helping me the whole time. She brought me the equipment I needed and when the paramedics arrived, she ran out to greet them. She told them what was going on and was very calm and collected the whole time.”
Blanton said he thinks helping her mother give birth was a good educational experience for Katie.
“It’s helpful to her in her abilities to know she can handle and remain calm in stressful situations,” he said.
Blanton said this is the last child for the couple and the rest of their children are adjusting well.
“There’s definitely a period of adjustment happening at this time,” he said. “It’s great to have another member of the Family, even more importantly; it’s great that everyone is healthy and happy.”