September 3, 2007

Dassel man delivers pizza and infant daughter

By Roz Kohls
Staff Writer

David Thomas of Dassel doesn’t just deliver pizza, he also delivers babies, or at least his own daughter.

David, owner of Jimmy’s Pizza in Dassel, delivered his daughter, Erika Joy, at home July 28. His wife, Amy, gave birth so quickly, the midwife didn’t have time to get to their home at 209th Street, south of Dassel. David played the role of the midwife himself.

David said the “amazing experience,” lasted only 25 minutes. Amy had seven hard contractions and Erika arrived at seven pounds, 12 ounces.

David emphasized in an interview Aug. 23 that he didn’t do anything heroic.

Instead, he feels blessed.

“Not many people have that opportunity,” David said. “If you’re in the situation, you just have to do it.”

All of the Thomas children were born at home, each with a different midwife. Abby is 11, Austin is 8, and Emma is 4. Emma was the only one of the older children born in the Dassel home, since the Thomases moved there in 2001 from Jordan.

Originally, Amy intended to have Joy Parker of Paynesville, be the midwife for the birth of Erika, just as she was for Emma’s birth. They became close to her when Emma was born, and even decided to give Erika the middle name, “Joy.”

Amy’s labor was completely different for Erika, however, than it was for Emma. When Amy went into labor for Emma, the contractions escalated in intensity and frequency right up to her birth, David said.

With Erika, the labor started, stopped, started, stopped. It was confusing for the couple.

Erika was due Aug. 4. On Thursday, July 26, Amy began getting contractions while David was on his way to the Twin Cities. It seemed like real labor, so David turned around and drove back to Dassel. It wasn’t, though.

The same thing happened on Friday. The contractions began, but then they stopped

Late Friday night, near midnight, they started again. It seemed so real, they called the midwife. Joy spent the night with the family, but the contractions stopped again.

Joy left Saturday morning, because her presence sometimes makes the family feel guilty and pressured when the baby doesn’t come, she told them. If Amy resumes her regular activity and relaxes, labor will resume.

It appears that is exactly what happened.

About noon, Amy began having contractions again, but they were extremely irregular. Sometimes weak, sometimes strong, she said.

David wondered whether he should risk going to work at the restaurant he and Amy had started in June 2005 in downtown Dassel, Jimmy’s Pizza, he said.

Again, the baby didn’t seem in any hurry to come. Amy laid on the bed and rested. A friend came over and encouraged her to relax.

Then, at about 3:30 p.m., something happened.

“Dave, I think my water broke,” Amy said suddenly.

While Amy went to check whether the water actually broke, David called Joy. He assumed from the time the water broke, Amy wouldn’t deliver for at least 45 minutes, and Joy would have time to get there.

Expectant fathers are coached by the midwife about what to do in case they have to deliver the baby themselves. Joy had given David worksheets, books and web site information well ahead of time.

Amy walked over to the edge of the bed and doubled over with an urge to push, however.

“I think the baby’s coming, and I can’t stop,” she said, and with no midwife anywhere near.

It seemed everything he had learned about delivering babies immediately vanished from his brain.

All that he could remember was “wash your hands and pray,” David said.

He went to the bathroom and washed his hands vigorously, praying, “God, please just let this go well,” David said.

Amy wanted to have the baby at home, where she could have her own clothes, own food and own bed, and be comfortable. As a result, the Thomases had the bedroom ready.

“Everything was textbook, the way it happened,” David said.

The midwife arrived about 20 minutes later. David cut the cord. The name they gave their baby, Erika, means “Ruler forever.”

Erika is already showing her personality. “She’s her own little person,” Amy said.

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