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Lifeguard Natalie Lucas, 18, helped deliver a baby on a YMCA pool deck


It was a typical Sunday morning shift for Natalie Lucas, who works as a lifeguard at the YMCA of Northern Colorado. Until, suddenly, the waters of a pregnant woman break on the indoor pool deck.

“It was something I wasn’t prepared for,” said 18-year-old Lucas, who has been a certified lifeguard for three years.

Tessa Rider and her husband, Matthew Jones, were visiting their local Y — about five minutes from their home in Longmont, Colorado — for a swim on July 24. Tessa was nine months pregnant with her third child, and the daily swims offered a lot – needed respite from the sweltering summer heat.

“During the latter part of her pregnancy, she was very uncomfortable, and the only relief she had was when she was in the water and she was floating,” said Jones, 29. year.

Rider was a few days late for her due date and she had been in mild contractions, “but nothing really clear,” she said.

“We knew the baby was coming. We just didn’t know if it would be a week, two weeks or today,” her husband echoed.

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It was a particularly hot morning, and once Rider slipped into the pool around 10:45 a.m., “I had Matt throw me a pool noodle, and I remember that feeling of complete relaxation,” she said.

But within about 30 seconds, the calm quickly turned to chaos.

“All of a sudden I felt the urge to push,” said Rider, 29, adding that she had asked her husband – who casually scrolled through his phone on the pool deck – to take their things and meet at the car.

That plan was quickly foiled when Rider took two steps out of the pool and “I collapsed on all fours,” she said, explaining her waters broke after landing on the floor. Within seconds, she felt the sensation that the baby was coming out “and nothing could stop it,” she said.

Lucas – who was the only lifeguard on duty at the time – rushed over and saw Jones rubbing his wife’s back while on the phone with a 911 dispatcher.

“We are going to have a baby,” he told the very surprised teenager.

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Before they can give details to the 911 operator, “I realize the baby is crowning,” Jones said. “I basically threw my phone away.”

“I was like, oh my god, I’m gonna grab this baby off the edge of the pool,” he continued.

Lucas – who had been trained to help in an emergency, but not this specific type of emergency – sprang into action, doing all she could to help the couple during the frenetic labor.

“My adrenaline surged at that point,” she explained, adding that she immediately grabbed towels and an emergency first aid kit, and used a walkie-talkie to alert the other personnel of the situation. She also asked a man who was swimming laps to call an ambulance.

“She was there the whole time,” Jones said.

As Rider screamed and pushed — still on all fours and with one hand holding her swimsuit to the side — about 10 passers-by watched in disbelief.

“Everyone was a bit in shock,” said Rider, who is a nuclear engineer, despite taking time off from work to care for her children.

As Jones knelt behind his wife, Lucas tried to make sure Rider was as comfortable as she could be through the birthing process.

“I was helping to support his head and the husband was helping to guide the baby,” she said. “I stayed calm and didn’t panic, because that’s what you have to do in this job. You can’t really hesitate or wait for someone else to come. You are the rescuer; you are the lifeline.

Within minutes, “I had the baby in my arms,” ​​said Jones, a software engineer. Even though the whole ordeal “was very quick,” he continued, “in my mind, it felt like an eternity.”

Their son — Tobin “Toby” Thomas Rider — was crying and breathing well, and “I put him on my chest to keep him as warm as possible,” Rider said.

At that point, Lucas sat back to back with Rider, to help keep her supported as she held her seconds-old son. An ambulance arrived soon after, and paramedics checked baby Toby out for a clean bill of health.

The couple said Lucas was quick and calm, guessing what they needed in real time.

“I wouldn’t have traded Natalie for anyone in that situation,” Jones said. “I’m so grateful that she was a part of it and supported us the way she did.”

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“She really played her role perfectly and was so nice to us,” Rider said. “I really, really enjoyed her presence and I’m glad she had this experience with us.”

In fact, the couple said that while giving birth in a hospital would undoubtedly have been more private and peaceful than in a public pool, “in some ways it felt so much more personal and so much more intimate,” Jones said.

Lucas, for his part, said the experience was deeply rewarding.

“I’m so happy the baby is okay, and they now have a new addition to their beautiful family,” Lucas said, adding that she feels forever connected to the couple and plans to send greeting cards. annual birthday to Toby. “I was really happy to help them.”

What was ironic about the emergency, Lucas added, was that as a rescuer, “you’re trained for death rather than life, so it was a very eye-opening experience.” In this case, rather than preventing death, it was helping to welcome new life.

During his training and certification, Lucas learned to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation, first aid and water rescues. Helping someone give birth was definitely not part of the program.

“Over the past few years I’ve saved a few kids, but nothing like it,” said Lucas, who recently graduated from high school and is heading to San Diego State University to study criminal justice in the fall. “To see firsthand how it’s done, it was pretty amazing.”

The couple spent a night in hospital and are now home with their new baby boy and two daughters – Lila, 6, and Abigail, 2.

Unlike how Toby was born, “he’s very relaxed,” Rider said. “And he’s very entertained by his sisters.”

The couple, who have been married for around seven years, hope to take Toby to the pool one day soon, to express their gratitude to Lucas and the other staff who have stepped up to help them during such a critical time.

“It was definitely an enriching experience to know that I was helping them and being part of this great moment,” Lucas said. “I don’t think it’s something any of us will ever forget.”

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