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Sharpsville mom's latest baby arrives quickly -- in the back of an ambulance

The Herald - 10/26/2023

Oct. 25—SHARPSVILLE — Although she was pregnant for nine months, the birth of local resident Kristen Dunker's son Jasper happened very quickly.

So quickly in fact, that even though the ride from her Sharpsville apartment to UPMC Horizon in Farrell was only 10 minutes, Jasper was born in a McGonigle ambulance at 8:08 p.m.Sept 21.

"You can make all the plans in the world, but in one second, all of those plans can change," Dunker, 39, said.

Jasper was originally due on Sept. 17, so his birth on Sept. 21 gave Dunker a "chuckle," considering the Earth Wind and Fire song "September" — which contains a reference to the 21st of September — is one of Dunker's favorites.

"That song has a very special meaning for us now, because I did play a lot of that music when I was pregnant with him, like Earth Wind and Fire, Bob Dylan, The Doors, all the classics," Dunker said.

Jasper's vehicular birth is actually the second time this has happened to Dunker.

In 2019, while living in York County, Dunker was pregnant with her daughter Ivy. Then, when picking up Ivy's sisters from school, Dunker felt the contractions begin.

Ivy's father was already there and started driving the expectant mother to York Memorial Hospital, but Ivy ended up being born in the car's front seat.

"I've always told doctors that I have a quick history with babies," Ivy said. "After the water breaks, it can be up to an hour or about 10 minutes when I give birth."

Although Ivy's birth was "slightly" less painful due to Dunker's sitting position in a car that let gravity to assist with the birth, Dunker said it definitely helped with Jasper's birth to have the skilled EMTs of McGonigle Ambulance Service present.

Especially since in the case of a "precipitous delivery," the mother has the advantage of a quicker but exceedingly painful birth, Dunker said.

"I'm very grateful for all of them," Dunker said of the ambulance crew. "Their training was priceless, and they were so professional. To say they were helpful would be such an understatement."

For Dunker, Ivy and Jasper are two of her six surviving children, having lost two stillborn children in 2004 and 2021.

Dunker has received trauma-based therapy and said it is important for mothers to advocate for themselves when going through the pregnancy process.

"No matter how painful it is, it will never be as painful as leaving the hospital without your child," Dunker said.

Since Sept. 21, Dunker said Jasper is doing well and has become quite the "snuggle bug," while Ivy, now four years old, is excited for her chance to help feed and care for Jasper.

"He's been absolutely precious, and when I'm ready to feed or change him, Ivy's right there wanting to help," Dunker said.

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