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A Richmond mother thanked the first responders who rushed to her aid after she unexpectedly went into labor at home.

For 40 weeks, Katie and Joe Sanderson planned every detail for the arrival of their third son, Henry. Doctors determined the baby’s due date for Nov. 5, 2020.

“We thought we would go into the hospital by 6 p.m. and maybe have a baby by midnight,” Katie recalled. “I was having a little bit of cramping, but I didn’t think I was in labor.”


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Henry and Katie Sanderson

Katie had planned for a natural childbirth with minimal intervention at VCU Medical Center as she had done during her two previous pregnancies.

She hired doula Melania Headley, who has operated A Brighter Birth for 14 years. Headley also served as the Sanderson’s emotional and mental support companion for the births of their sons, Charlie and Jack.


Henry, Joe and Katie Sanderson

Katie had just finished eating lunch with her doula when she began experiencing cramping and contractions. Then, her water broke.

They quickly transformed their Bellevue home in the city’s Northside into a last-minute delivery room. The Sanderson’s considered driving to the hospital, but Henry had other plans.

“I remember Melanie saying, ‘OK, his head it out!’” Katie explained. “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe I just did that!”


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Meanwhile, Richmond Ambulance Authority EMT Kyle Gilley and his partner Jacob were on their way to the home.

“I remember when we got here [Katie] was upstairs in the bathroom,” Gilley stated.

Gilley said it’s not often that they arrive on scene for a pregnancy call when the birth is still in progress.

Henry arrived just three minutes after Katie’s water broke. She held her newborn in her arms for the first time on their bathroom floor.

“I felt really strong. I felt kind of like a badass,” she recalled. “My body is amazing. My body is made for this.”

Neighbors then gathered outside to cheer on mom and baby as they left for the hospital.

“I think everyone was really relieved. It was a joyous occasion when we came out to know everybody was okay. It was really wonderful,” Katie said.


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Katie Sanderson, doula Melania Headley with Richmond Ambulance Authority EMT

Thursday morning, the Sanderson family invited RAA back to their home to meet four-month-old Henry and to express their gratitude.

“They were extremely respectful and really gave us a lot of space,” Katie explained. “Thank you for being so respectful and calm and gentle, supportive and still caring in providing what we needed.”

RAA brought the clamps and scissors that Henry’s father Joe used to cut the umbilical cord. They also handed the family towels and monitored mother and baby for any changes in health.

“I’m just glad to be a part of people’s lives in ways like this. A thank you is never in order as far as I’m concerned,” Gilley said.

Today, both mother and baby are healthy. The Sandersons say their family is now complete.