FREEPORT — Brittany Holmes of Panama City Beach was ready for her usual weekend trip to visit her parents in DeFuniak Springs.
But life had other plans.
Holmes was 37 weeks pregnant with her fourth baby when she went into labor Friday morning. After heading toward her mother’s house, she drove south to Sacred Heart Hospital in Miramar Beach.
Doctors sent her home to labor. Holmes, who is 23, returned to DeFuniak Springs, never imagining that her son would come so quickly.
“I got back to my mom’s … and tried to count the contractions and breathe but they became so unbearable," she said. "I couldn’t walk so my mom decided she would just take me back to the hospital.”
Riding south to Sacred Heart, Holmes said she felt pressure from the baby’s head and knew he was on the way. Her mother, Kimberly, called 911 at 2:35 a.m. Saturday. Kimberly stayed on the line with dispatchers and stopped at the Exxon gas station in Freeport to meet Walton County Fire Rescue and EMS responders.
“We pulled in the gas station and (saw) the fire trucks, but Hagen was not waiting any longer; it was time to push,” Holmes said.
At 2:45 a.m., Holmes gave birth to Hagen James Marlowe in the front passenger seat of her mother’s SUV.
“I realized we weren’t going to have time to get the mother to a local hospital, so I made sure she was comfortable and got ready,” District Chief Austin Pugh said in a press release.
Holmes said that she is grateful that the first responders were there to help her with the delivery of her healthy 7-pound, 5-ounce baby boy.
The Walton County Fire Rescue EMS crew and Walton County Sheriff’s Office deputies who responded to the birth at the Exxon gas station off State Road 20 in Freeport included Pugh, WCFR Lt. Andrew Pyeatt and WCSO Sgt. Khaliqa Wheatley.
“He (Chief Austin) was still so calm and great with talking to me through the process and delivering Hagen,” she said. “Austin and the other EMS (paramedics were) so awesome the whole ride making sure Hagen and myself (were) doing great and (were) as comfortable as we could be.”
Walton County Fire Rescue paramedics took the mother and baby to Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast.
The two were discharged Monday afternoon.
“I’m so glad we were all there to help. These are the calls you want to take home with you. The calls you will never forget," Pugh said.
"It was an unforgettable moment for all of us who were on scene.”