The following is a news release from the United States Army:
FORT POLK, La. - As most Fort Polk residents slept under the muted light
of a crescent moon on July 6, Jennifer Ezzell, the spouse of Sgt. 1st
Class Tony Ezzell, struggled -- on her own -- to deliver a healthy baby
girl in her master bathroom in a duplex in Palmetto Terrace.
The couple were expecting a new addition to their family in early July
and in the midst of a move from Dogwood Terrace to Palmetto Terrace. "I
just kept repeating, 'let this move be over before the baby comes,'"
Luckily, they had just completed their move when Jennifer felt the stork
might be on its way.
"At 7:30 or 8 p.m. I felt contractions and went to the hospital. They
checked me out, but at that point, I was only two centimeters dilated -
considered the early stage of labor. They hooked me up to a monitor and
the contractions were 10 minutes apart, so they sent me home and told me
to come back tomorrow to re-check how I was progressing," said Jennifer.
(Early labor, according to the American Medical Association, can last up
to 20 hours, depending on how long it takes the cervix to dilate).
"We got home around 10:30 p.m. and I told Tony I was going to lie down,"
she said. "When we had our first baby, Cadence, 21 months, she had been
a quick birth, but I didn't expect the contractions to go from ten
minutes apart to less than two or three in the course of a night."
Near midnight, as she tried to rest, Jennifer felt a change in her
"I somehow knew the baby was coming," she said. "I tried to call Tony,
but he was conked out on the couch, so I went into the bathroom."
Jennifer conducted a self-examination and felt the baby's head in the
birth canal: Then, to her surprise, her water broke.
"At that point," she said, "I didn't think about it any more. I just had
an instinctual urge to push. So I crouched in the bathroom, delivering
the baby, while my husband was asleep downstairs."
As soon as she delivered her baby girl, Kendall, Jennifer wrapped her in
"She cried right away, which I knew was a good sign. It was just
surreal, and that's how I felt the entire time it was happening. I asked
myself over and over, 'what just happened? Is she OK? My first worry was
for her,'" she said.
The pride came later.
Many women might think a home delivery without anesthetic would be a
harrowing experience. As for Jennifer, the "self-delivery" was a haze.
"I don't remember anything as far as pain. This one was incredibly quick
Then came Jennifer's long walk from the second-floor master bathroom
down the stairs while holding the baby, the umbilical cord still
attached, the placenta still undelivered.
"I kept calling for Tony, but he was sound asleep until I got to the
bottom of the stairs. Then he woke up," she said.
At first, Tony said he was totally confused.
"I woke up suddenly and I heard a baby crying and thought 'What's wrong
with Cadence?' I saw a bundle in Jennifer's arms and thought, 'that's
too small to be Cadence,' and suddenly realized what must have
What Tony remembers most, beyond the bombshell of an unexpected home
birth, is "how completely collected and calm my wife was. "I was totally
amazed, he said."
"His eyes got so big," said Jennifer. "He said some choice words I won't
repeat. But then he went into instant combat attitude. He called BJACH's
(Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital) labor and delivery and then 911
because the placenta still hadn't delivered. He was in definite
An emergency 911 dispatcher instructed Tony on how to clean the baby and
tie off the umbilical cord.
And, like many Soldiers who learn to improvise in a "combat" situation,
Tony ran into the garage and came out with a shoelace, the only
implement he could find at such short notice that would serve to tie the
umbilical cord off.
"He was such a trooper," said Jennifer. "Though he's normally squeamish,
he went back and forth and did exactly what needed to be done."
Tony's words of awe are reserved for his wife and baby: "I'm married to
(super hero) She-Ra," he said. "And Kendall - it was amazing seeing her
for the first time. She's absolutely gorgeous."
Beyond awe, there's genuine delight and pride: "This is something that
we did, and we're proud."
Soon after the emergency call was placed, Fort Polk's military police
arrived at the Ezzell home. They rearranged the living room furniture to
accommodate the stretcher on which they placed Jennifer and baby girl
"I was still in total amazement; everything was surreal. Nothing about
the situation processed until I saw the baby at the hospital, said
Meanwhile, said Tony, "I had to stay home until a friend came to watch
Cadence. I must have paced back and forth a thousand times."
At the hospital, said Jennifer, she was treated with utmost courtesy and
"The nurse who attended me was great. We're really lucky. The nurses and
staff were very nice and it was overall a great experience. We have
absolutely no complaints."
When the new addition arrived home - the new addition the Family calls
"awesome" - big sister Cadence fell in love, too.
"Cadence knows who her sister is," said Jennifer. "She often goes up to
the baby and says, tenderly, 'baby.' Like she's in wonder, too."
Because Kendall arrived on both her father's birthday and the
anniversary of her grandfather's death, her arrival seems especially
like a blessing to her parents. "Kendall is a mixture of my father and
my daughter," said Tony.
That palpable reminder of his father is, he said, a gift.
"I look at her and see beauty and can't imagine her not being here,"
both her parents said.
"I thank God every day for how things turned out, that there were no
complications. Someone was looking after us," Jennifer said.