When Brittany Kennedy showed up at the hospital in labor last Monday night, she was told she wasn't dilated enough to have her baby and was sent back home to the Fort Drum Army base.
Less than an hour later, her husband — U.S. Army Sgt. Preston Kennedy — delivered their baby girl in the couple's car at a Fort Drum entrance gate. The couple's other four children remained in the back seat of their Dodge Durango - one of them fast asleep during the whole event.
"I still can hardly believe it,' Brittany Kennedy, 29, said this weekend. "I had a baby inside a car! And I'm so proud of my husband - the first time we had a child he nearly passed out in the delivery room."
Brittany Kennedy wasn't due to have her baby until Jan. 25, but her labor pains started Monday, Jan 8. By late afternoon, the couple decided to go to the hospital. They got their other four children into the car, and made the 25-minute drive to Watertown.
At the hospital, Brittany Kennedy said she was examined, but sent home because her labor hadn't progressed enough. She said she questioned the decision, but decided the experts knew best. She said she had had four children already, and felt like she knew her body.
"As we started to drive back, I had a feeling we weren't going to make it home before the baby came,'' she said. "But Preston assured me I was probably just nervous and disappointed."
The couple, who are from Texas originally, stopped at a Taco Bell drive-thru in Watertown to get their other four children some food.
As they got back on the highway, Brittany Kennedy remembers the pain intensifying. She pushed her seat back, and her young son placed his small hand on her forehead to comfort her. As they drove, she told her husband she felt the urge to push.
"I told her no - don't push, just breathe - until we can at least get home,'' said Preston Kennedy, 29. "I was driving, and then all of a sudden I heard a pop and her water broke. We made it to the Fort Drum gates, and I pulled over and stopped the car."
He called out to the soldier at the gate to call an ambulance. Then he got in the front seat and propped one of his wife's legs on the dashboard radio and the other on the car door.
"I'm thinking 'oh my God, not right now,' '' Preston Kennedy said. "I was really nervous, but I knew I had to stay calm. I could see the baby's head crowning, and then it was coming out in my palm. And then she was out - and crying!"
Looking back, he said he acted instinctively.
"I've been in the delivery room for our four other children," he said. "And when you are in the military, you learn to handle stressful situations calmly and with poise. So that really helped me."
At some point during the whirlwind delivery, Preston Kennedy called his platoon sergeant Justin Foster. When he told him he was at the gate delivering his baby, Foster at first didn't believe him, but he quickly realized it was true.
"I could hear his wife screaming in pain," Foster recalled, and just a few seconds later he heard the baby start to cry. He told Preston to wrap the baby up in something warm, and turn up the heat while waiting for the ambulance. (The high that day was only 36 degrees.)
Preston Kennedy said another solider who had come by during the delivery offered his coat to wrap the baby in. Within a few minutes, the Fort Drum ambulance and fire department were there.
Brittany Kennedy returned to the hospital and this time was admitted. She stayed until Wednesday morning.
Bella was six pounds, 13 ounces and 18 inches long. She joins Preston Jr., 2; Paytin, 6; Kianna, 8 and Ananda, 10, at home.
Preston, who is a field artillery tactical database systems specialist with the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, is now at home helping his wife. When the 1st Brigade posted his successful delivery on their Facebook page, congratulatory messages came in from everywhere.
"The whole thing just happened so fast,'' Preston Kennedy told Syracuse.com. "It's still hard for me to believe I actually delivered my own baby - and in my car!"
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