It was a "baby boom" of sorts in Hamilton County, as the first-stop in Florida (via I-75) recorded a first during the first week of the new year, along with registering a first for several employees and a FHP trooper at the local Florida Welcome Center.
Selena Carter of Valdosta, made it all happen last week as she was traveling on I-75 from Georgia into Florida. Selena was pregnant and due! The Welcome Center became her maternity ward and the parking-lot, her delivery room.
When Selena decided to run some errands on the afternoon of Tuesday, January 4, she didn't know that she wouldn't return home until the morning of January 6. The nine-month pregnant mother of three, was traveling south on I-75 when she began having contractions.
"It happened so fast and the pain was bad that I didn't know what to do. I was scared and I just kept driving," Carter said. She stopped at the Florida Welcome Center in Hamilton County to get help, but the pain was so intense that she couldn't walk and she lay down on the pavement next to her car.
Two of the Center's information specialists, Doreen Goolsby and Rosetta Townsend, were leaving work at 5 p.m. and noticed several people trying to help a woman lying in the parking lot. Goolsby and Townsend immediately rushed to the scene.
When they heard that the woman was in labor, Townsend ran to the other end of the parking lot, where Florida Highway Patrolman Cpl. Phil Sumner was on safety duty. He radioed for an ambulance and the pair returned to the pregnant woman.
Cpl. Sumner wanted to help Carter into the car where she could lie on the back seat, but she told him that the baby was coming. In a matter of minutes, Tyson Javon Carter was born.
Goolsby wrapped the baby in a jacket from Carter's car and placed the baby on the mother's chest. When Hamilton County Emergency Medical Service paramedics arrived, they examined both mother and baby, and transported them to South Georgia Medical Center in Valdosta.
Goolsby is the mother of three, one of which was delivered by "natural" childbirth, and she was present at the birth of two of her grandchildren. Composed and factual about the unusual birth, she said, "I'm just glad that everything went all right and that the baby and mother are okay."
Townsend, on the other hand, was wide-eyed with wonder as she described the birth. She has one child but did not deliver by "natural" childbirth and had never witnessed a birth. She too expressed her pleasure that both mother and baby were doing well.
A 78-year-old woman who was traveling with her daughter and son-in-law said that January 4 was also her birthday and that seeing the birth of a new baby was the best present she could have received.
According to mom, T. J. weighed 6 pounds, 15 ounces and was pronounced healthy and well at SGMC. His brother, Edwin, and two sisters, Erin and Destiny are all excited to have a new baby brother regardless of the unusual 'arrival' circumstances.
"The patrolman was very calm and efficient," noted Carter from her home in Valdosta. "I want to thank him and the others for their help during the delivery."
Construction at the new Welcome Center continues. The expected announcement of a "grand opening" at the site when complete later this year, will be hard to top the unannounced "grand delivery" of life last week.