Chantasia and Jasmin Bass were brimming with excitement as they headed to Intermountain Bear River Valley Hospital from their home in Malad, Idaho on the night of Nov. 16, eager to meet the newest addition to their family.
Just about everything had gone right with Chantasia’s third pregnancy — her first since marrying Jasmin more than three years ago after the two met while living in Ogden. In vitro fertilization worked on the first attempt. Routine appointments with Dr. Todd Miller revealed no serious complications along the way, and now Chantasia had started feeling contractions right on schedule, precisely 39 weeks into the pregnancy.
They arrived at the hospital in Tremonton, where her contractions continued throughout the night and into the next day. Her water broke at 2:15 p.m., and that’s when Nurse Stacey Everhart noticed the monitor had stopped registering the baby’s heart rate.
“Stacey immediately looked at the monitor, then at me, then back at the monitor and said ‘OK, something’s not right,’”Chantasia said.
Everhart looked at the child’s emerging head and noticed that the umbilical cord had worked its way out in front of the head and was being pinched, essentially cutting off the baby’s lifeline in a complication known as a prolapsed cord.
According to Cleveland Clinic, umbilical cord prolapse is “an uncommon but potentially fatal obstetric emergency” that happens in about one of every 300 pregnancies. It cuts off the oxygen supply to the fetus, possibly resulting in permanent brain damage or even stillbirth.
In Chantasia’s case it wasn’t a breech, one of the common causes of a prolapsed cord in which the baby comes out feet-first instead of headfirst. Everhart said the baby was coming headfirst, but had been really active throughout the day and when he turned a certain way a rush of fluid came, pushing the cord into the dangerous position of being caught between the baby’s head and the wall of the cervix.
As an advanced EMT, Everhart is used to dealing with emergencies. In her three and a half years as a nurse, this was the first time Everhart had faced a birth with a prolapsed cord, but training and instinct took over and she sprang into action. She pushed the head to the side and held it there to allow the flow through the cord to resume, and had to stay in that position while she called other nurses in to assist.
“She said every time I was having a contraction it was cutting off his air,” Chantasia said. “I didn’t understand the significance at first, but the nurses started ripping the cords out of the walls and rushing to get me to the OR (operating room).”
Everhart climbed onto the bed with Chantasia, continuing to hold the baby’s head in position as they were whisked into the surgical suite for an emergency Cesarean section. Within a few minutes, Dr. Blake Taylor delivered the baby, the ordeal was over, and an exhausted but completely healthy mother was holding her perfectly healthy newborn boy in her arms.
Chantasia and Jasmin were so grateful for Everhart’s quick action that they added another name, right in the middle of the baby’s already extensive moniker: Jasiah Edward Stacey Lamar Bass.
“The doctors said that less than a couple of minutes later, he could have had brain damage and wouldn’t have made it,” Chantasia said. “We definitely wanted to put the name in there of the nurse who saved his life.”
Everhart is reluctant to take credit, saying it was a team effort.
“The OR team happened to be here and had just taken care of another lady,” she said. “We had that baby delivered in seven minutes, which I think is pretty remarkable for our little hospital.”
For Everhart, it was simple — she was just doing what she was hired to do, but reflecting on the experience a month later, she realizes it was a bigger deal.
“To the family it was more than just my job,” she said. “It just kind of takes you back a little bit to realize how much it meant to them.”
Since that day, Everhart has become the hospital’s outpatient manager of medicine and surgery for labor and delivery, a position in which she’s sure to face more challenging birth situations — some of which she realizes may not have happy endings.
“We do have some bad outcomes, too, so when you have these wins, it makes you feel good,” she said.
Chantasia has been resting with Jasiah at home in Malad, where his two older brothers aged 13 and 15 are always eager to hold him, feed him and help mom however they can.
“He is a completely healthy, very chill and observant child,” Chantasia said. “His younger brother keeps trying to put an Xbox controller in his hand. They’re having a ball with him.”
The first weeks of Jasiah’s life have given Chantasia an opportunity to reflect on how the circumstances at the hospital that day allowed her family to realize its own holiday-season miracle, including the neonatal surgical team from McKay-Dee Hospital that happened to be on hand and ready at the critical moment.
When she brought Jasiah to the hospital for a follow-up visit two weeks ago, Everhart was working and took a minute to hold the boy.
“He was being fussy, but she picked him up and he fell asleep in her arms,” said Chantasia, who has been telling “anyone willing to listen” about her experience at the little hospital in Tremonton.
“Stacey’s amazing. All the nurses and doctors are amazing. They all remembered his name, and that’s why I preferred a smaller hospital. It’s a lot more personal,” she said. “If I have another baby — and that’s a big ‘if’ — it will definitely be in Tremonton.”