BRUNSWICK – It was a once-in-a-lifetime shot for photographer Kevin Shields: his wife, Rebecca, sprawled on the grass next to Interstate 95 while emergency workers tended to the son he had just delivered.
So began the life of Kevin Christopher Shields – on the side of a dusty, hot highway in Bowdoinham, with cars whizzing by and his father snapping photos.
“The worst part for me was the privacy thing,” said Rebecca, a math teacher at Wiscasset Middle School. “Here was Kevin ripping off my pants while all these cars are driving by.”
The Dresden couple recounted the story of their son’s birth Tuesday, hours before being discharged from Parkview Hospital.
Kevin Christopher was born around 8:30 a.m. Sunday, although no one was keeping track of the time. The due date was July 31.
The adventure began around 2 a.m. Sunday, when Rebecca started having contractions. Kevin’s parents arrived from Rockland to care for the couple’s 3-year-old son, Ryan, around 8 a.m.
By then, Rebecca’s contractions were growing stronger.
They grabbed the new-parent book “What To Expect When You Are Expecting,” got into their Ford Explorer and headed for Brunswick.
By the time they reached Richmond, Rebecca’s contractions were five minutes apart and she was in pain.
“I told [Kevin] I had an incredible urge to push,” she said.
“I told her, please don’t,” Kevin said.
They pulled over when Rebecca could feel the baby’s head. Kevin helped Rebecca to the side of the road and then began waving his arms frantically to flag down help.
George and Marion Newland of Readfield pulled their van over to see what was going on.
“It was a miracle,” Rebecca said. “They had a cell phone, a blanket and a pillow.”
They called 911 and a state police dispatcher coached Kevin, a self-employed photographer, through the delivery. The Newlands, meanwhile, held on to “What To Expect When You Are Expecting,” which contains one page on how to deliver a baby in an emergency.
The newborn slid into his father’s waiting arms.
George Newland produced a shoestring from his fishing tackle box and Kevin used it to tie off the umbilical cord.
Kevin wiped the baby with a pair of pants his wife had packed and then wrapped him in them.
Moments later, three members of the Bowdoinham Emergency Medical Services team, an ambulance crew from Northeast Mobile Health Services in Brunswick and a Topsham police officer arrived.
“The mother was lying in the grass and the father was taking photos when we got there,” said Steve Harrison, a paramedic for Northeast Mobile Health Services. “I guess they waited just a little too long.”