Couple’s 2nd child is one for the road
Rhodee Florence wasn't in the driver's seat as his father and expectant mother rushed toward Overland Park Regional Medical Center on Jan. 10.
But he might as well have been.
"I made my husband pull over, I said I've got to push," said Cynthia Florence, who was in labor at the time. "He said, 'Why? Can't we make it to the hospital?' I said I've got to push, I'm going to have the baby."
Eric made a quick turn into the parking lot of Kansas Speedway's visitor center.
And within about five minutes, just before midnight, Eric delivered, or "caught" as he later said, their second son -- a robust 7-pound, 4-ounce boy.
"I used my finger and swept out his mouth and he let out that first squawk," Eric said. "It was like a sigh of relief when he first cried."
Eric wrapped the baby in a T-shirt he'd brought to sleep in at the hospital.
Meanwhile, two police cars and an ambulance were on the way. It was the vehicles' flashing lights, Cynthia said, that in her last moments of labor gave her something on which to concentrate.
An EMT -- a man whom Cynthia and Eric would like to thank if they knew his name -- clamped the baby's umbilical cord.
"He asked my husband if he wanted to cut the cord, and he couldn't because he was holding the baby," Cynthia said. "Then he asked me if I wanted to cut it and I couldn't with the way I was positioned in the truck."
Her husband's truck does not have a bench seat. Rather, it has two bucket seats with a console in the center.
The ambulance personnel put the baby in the ambulance and helped Cynthia onto a gurney for the trip to the Overland Park hospital.
While driving his truck to the hospital, Eric called his parents, Joan and Joe Florence, who live in Highland. He also called Cynthia's parents, Sandy and Charley Rickey, who live in Tonganoxie. Eric and Cynthia and their 22-month-old son, Reece, had been at the Rickey's home before heading to the hospital.
On both phone calls, Eric's message was about the same.
"I pretty much told them that we had him on the way to the hospital and I caught him," Eric said.
Today, Eric and Cynthia laugh when they talk about their son's slightly precipitous birth.
"I thought this stuff only happened in the movies," Cynthia said. "I had a quick delivery with Reece, five hours, but I never dreamed it would be that quick."
And Cynthia was proud of how composed Eric remained during the birth. The couple obtained a tape of their 911 call.
Her husband's voice was calm throughout the call, she said.
"The only time his voiced changed was with the excitement in his voice when the baby was coming out and he was delivering him," Cynthia said.
And, in a different sort of way, the delivery went along with Cynthia's hopes to have a natural childbirth.
"I didn't have a choice," she said, smiling. "But actually it was a lot easier than what I had thought."
Once at the hospital, the couple started trying to come up with a name.
Cynthia asked her parents to look around the area where their son was born.
About the only notable item was a street sign labeled "Speedway Boulevard."
The couple knew that wouldn't do.
So they named him Rhodee, Cynthia said, with a chuckle.
"Because he was born by the road."