According to the Washington Post, Hess was at Frankfort Regional Hospital, about to begin induced labor to have her own baby. According to Dr. Hala Sabry, one of Hess’s fellow doctors, Hess “overheard the nurses preparing for a woman in active labor who needed to deliver immediately because the baby was in distress.” Hess’s doctor and mama instincts kicked in, and she jumped into action. Postponing her own labor, she threw on a hospital gown and some boots and raced to the room.
It turned out that Hess knew the mother-to-be. The woman, Leah Halliday Johnson, had actually seen Hess for a prenatal appointment about a week before. Halliday Johnson’s labor had progressed so quickly and suddenly that she needed to deliver, but her on-call doctor wasn’t there yet. He was on his way, but the umbilical cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck, and Hess realized that there was no time to wait for him to arrive. Hess remembers saying, “I’m not on call, I’m here in a gown, but I think we ought to have the baby.” She delivered Halliday Johnson’s baby herself, a healthy little girl. Just a bit southeast in South Carolina, this baby is her family’s first girl born in 137 years.
Hess admits that she was working “literally ’til the last second.” Her own contractions began only minutes after Halliday Johnson’s baby had arrived. Her own daughter, Ellen Joyce, was born that same night. Here are some great ways to get your mojo back after baby.
Hess was so professional that Halliday Johnson had no idea how close she was to giving birth herself. “She was definitely in doctor mode,” she told NBC. “My husband noticed something was going on because she had on a hospital gown, but I didn’t notice that because I was on the delivery table.”
Naturally, when Halliday Johnson learned the truth, she was amazed. “It speaks a lot to who [Hess] is as a woman and a mother as well as a doctor,” she said. “It makes you feel better, bringing a baby girl into the world, knowing there are women like her willing to step up like that.” Here’s what mothers of daughters say they wish they knew sooner.