An unexpected delivery
Emergency responders and a bathtub weren't part of Carra Riffle's birth plan.
Riffle, of Scappoose, had arrangements to deliver her baby with a small group of midwives at Legacy Hospital in Portland. She intended only women to be present.
Instead, her daughter Faith was born at home Feb. 1 with the help of four men — all firefighter/paramedics with Scappoose Fire District.
Nothing about Faith's delivery went as planned.
In the early morning hours of Feb. 1, Riffle, 19, told her mother she was in pain. Riffle, whose husband, Nate Riffle, is stationed with the U.S. Army in Fort Lee, Va., was deep into her third trimester of pregnancy, but still a good two weeks out from her delivery date. Neither she nor her mother, who she currently lives with while her husband is deployed, thought too much about it.
A few hours later, around 7 a.m., Riffle sat on her bathroom floor, writhing in pain. She drew a bath for herself, hoping to feel better. Not long afterward, Riffle started having contractions.
"I was in the bathtub and my water broke," Riffle recalls.
Her mother, Kris Johnston says she called the hospital and staff there advised her to bring her daughter in.
"I left it up to her. She never got out of the bath," Johnston recalls. "I'm calling people and telling them her water broke and probably not taking it as seriously as I should have. ... And then pretty soon she said, 'Mom! The head's coming. I feel the head!'"
"I called the hospital back and they said, 'hang up and call 911!'" Johnston says.
"I called and the lady on the line said, 'I'm going to instruct you how to deliver this baby,'" Johnston says, reviving the expression of shock that fell over her face during the phone conversation.
It was around that same time that Riffle and Johnston heard sirens in the distance.
Just eight minutes before baby Faith was delivered, Austin Zimbrick and Justin Krieck, both firefighter paramedics with Scappoose Fire District, arrived. Riffle was already in labor, but the paramedic crew had to wait for an ambulance with an obstetrics kit to show up.
"The issue was we were already on a different call when we were dispatched," Zimbrick says. "So the medical rig with the OB kit wasn't far behind."
As the second crew of paramedics arrived, they made Riffle as comfortable as possible, and got to work.
"Our bathroom isn't that big, but there were four men in there with us," Johnston recalls.
Faith was born at 10 a.m. Feb. 1, weighing 5 pounds, 14 ounces. Johnston cut the umbilical
cord before the mother and child were transported to the hospital.
Faith and Riffle were reunited with three of the four firefighters who helped deliver the baby during a visit to the Scappoose fire station Tuesday, Feb. 27. Zimbrick, Krieck and Division Chief Jeff Pricher, who also responded to the call, held and greeted the newborn with a plastic firefighter helmet and stuffed Dalmatian.
Zimbrick says responding to the call of someone in labor isn't that uncommon, but it's a change of pace from what he's used to.
The firefighter/paramedic, who now works in Clatskanie, says that day marked his second time delivering a baby on shift.
"Just the positivity of it," Zimbrick says, stood out for him and made for a memorable call.
"It's not often we see people for good things," Zimbrick says. "Everything went well. The delivery was relaxed."
Riffle says she and her husband were able to video chat with each other shortly after her delivery and there's been plenty of photos sent.
Despite the unusual birth of her daughter, Riffle has no complaints.
"I actually like how everything went," the new mom says. "It was unexpected."