Two Doulas Help Dad Deliver Baby via Facebook During Buffalo Blizzard

The off-duty doulas coached the nervous parents-to-be through the birth of their firstborn via video chat after they were unable to get to the hospital.
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By Wyndi Kappes, Associate Editor
Published December 29, 2022
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Image: Getty Images/ Mahmud013

Doulas to the rescue! One set of Buffalo parents safely delivered their firstborn daughter, Devynn Brielle Thomas, at home thanks to the virtual efforts of two off-duty doulas on Christmas Eve. Davon and Erica Thomas were snowed in their home due to winter storm Elliot when mom-to-be Erica unexpectedly went into labor.

Davon called 911 repeatedly but was told by the dispatchers they could not send anybody out in the storm. And by 11:30 a.m., Erica’s contractions were three minutes apart. “At that point, I was like: ‘This is going to be me. I’m going to have to put my big boy pants on and figure this out,’" Davon told The Buffalo News.

With the help of a friend, the first-time Dad got in touch with a Facebook group of fellow Buffalo residents weathering the storm who directed him to doulas Iva Michelle and Raymonda Reynolds. Blackburn was wrapping presents and watching the Buffalo Bills NFL game with her family when she got the call from Reynolds.

“We were using Facebook Messenger to communicate with her parents and coached them through the delivery, so I watched her being delivered on my cellphone," Blackburn told NBC News.

After being instructed to collect towels, find a bowl, and boil some water, the doulas told Davon to help his wife take a hot shower to ease her labor pain and “to get the gravity going,” Blackburn said. “Most importantly, Raye had calmed him down,” Blackburn said of Davon. “He was very nervous, but he was very open and he was listening carefully and following instructions.”

When Erica’s contractions started getting more intense, Blackburn and Reynolds directed Davon to get a flashlight so they could see how she was progressing. Soon enough, Erica squatted down and when the baby came out, Davon was there to catch his newborn daughter in his arms.

“At first mom and dad looked like they were both in shock and the baby looked like she was in shock, too, because she was alert but not crying,” Blackburn said. “But as soon as they picked her up, she started crying…I was in my living room with my mother and my kids while all this was happening. And when that baby started crying, we all started cheering. You would have thought the Bills made a touchdown,” Blackburn recalled.

New dad Davon reports that both mom and baby are happy and healthy. “We’re all OK, thanks to them,” he told NBC News. Davon had nothing but praise for Blackburn, Reynolds and the aptly named truck driver Angel Lugo, who drove them to the hospital after the birth. He even praised Facebook for the part it played in his little girl’s birth.

“Twenty years ago we had no video chat,” he told The Buffalo News. “And even though Facebook can be messy sometimes, it’s amazing what we can do when it’s time to help somebody.”

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