Roadside childbirth a learning experience for couple of teachers

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Matt and Concetta Richards welcomed a new baby to their family Saturday night. Their first hello to little Isabella happened along the shoulder of Interstate 279 at the Camp Horne Road off-ramp in Ohio Township.

It wasn't the kind of birth experience either parent had hoped for.

"We had actually talked about needing to be prepared because we didn't want to have a baby on the side of a road," recalled Mr. Richards, 31.

But, having a bit of time to rebound from the shock, the couple were able Sunday afternoon to adopt an all's-well-that-ends-well attitude.

"Everybody is safe and healthy, and that's what counts," Mr. Richards said.

Mr. and Mrs. Richards are teachers.

He recounted that the couple were home in Cranberry with their 16-month-old daughter, Talia, Saturday evening when Mrs. Richards, 34, began experiencing labor pains. They called their doctor, who advised them to head to West Penn Hospital in Bloomfield.

"We didn't take it slow, but we weren't in any big rush," Mr. Richards said. Mrs. Richards' previous labor and delivery took six hours, so they weren't expecting to welcome their second newborn within a matter of minutes.

Isabella had her own plans, however.

As the couple was driving south on Interstate 279 toward the city, Mrs. Richards advised her husband, "We're not going to make it to the hospital."

After a moment of disbelief -- "Of course, I thought she was being dramatic" -- Mr. Richards' reaction: "No, no, no. I don't know how to deliver a baby."

Grabbing his cell phone, he called Allegheny County 911 and an emergency dispatcher advised him to pull off the road right away. With step-by-step help of the dispatcher, Mr. Richards escorted his daughter from the womb to the world, wrapping her in one of his T-shirts and tying off the umbilical cord with his shoelace.

As of this afternoon, Mr. Richards knew only that the baby was born "sometime around 9:30" in the evening. Mrs. Richards corrected him: "It was 9:36."

Isabella arrived at West Penn, a healthy baby weighing 7 pounds, 3 ounces and 18.5 inches in length.

Karen Kane: or 724-772-9180.


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