At age 9, Jaidan Lujan is hardly more than a baby herself — but that didn’t stop the Sacramento, Calif., girl from helping deliver her own brother when her mother went into early labor.
The dark-haired girl didn’t seem to think that delivering a baby and tying off his umbilical cord with her shoelace was that big a deal. She talked about it Tuesday with TODAY’s Al Roker, who asked her if she was scared during her close encounter with childbirth.
“More freaked than scared,” Jaidan said.
Arriving two months ahead of schedule, Kai’rin Lujan was born early Wednesday, Sept. 10, to Valerie Lujan of Sacramento. Lujan had thought she was in labor the day before, but was told at the hospital that she was experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions and to go home and not worry about it.
‘Something’s not OK’
Early the next morning, she had just drunk some water when she felt sick. “I had to go to the bathroom, and after I went to the bathroom, I started feeling all this pressure,” the 32-year-old mom explained. “It was like, ‘Something’s not OK.’ And that’s when I called 911.”
Kate Traci was the Sacramento Regional Fire 911 operator who took the call. When Lujan told her what was happening, Traci offered some practical advice. “She asked me where I was, and told me to get off the toilet,” Lujan said.
At about that time, Jaidan had gotten up to use the bathroom. Her first clue that something unusual was afoot was when “My mom started screaming, ‘My water broke.’ ”
Jaidan didn’t know what that meant, but was rapidly recruited to midwife duty. Lujan got herself to a couch to lie down and stayed on the phone, relaying Traci’s instructions to her daughter.
In a separate interview, Traci said she was nervous at first when she learned that a 9-year-old girl was the only person at home to help Lujan. Kai’rin’s father, Daniel Sundukos, was at work when Lujan called him to say she had gone into labor. He immediately started rushing home — but Kai’rin wasn’t going to wait for him to get there.
Traci said that as soon as she talked to Jaidan and realized how mature she was, her fears evaporated. “I'd probably rather have talked to Jaidan than the dad,” the operator told NBC. “Dad would probably have been freaking out much more than Jaidan.”
The first advice was to try to hold off on the birth until EMT personnel could get there. When it was apparent that Kai’rin wasn’t going to wait for a professional welcoming committee to arrive, Jaidan was told to support her brand-new brother and place him on a towel.
911 operator Kate Traci talked Jaidan through delivering her premature baby brother.
The 911 tape recorded Lujan urgently telling Jaidan, “Gently. Gently. Gently.”
Jaidan cleaned Kai’rin’s head and massaged him as he pronouced his good health with a lusty cry. But the fourth-grader’s work wasn’t done yet. There was still the issue of the umbilical cord to be dealt with.
“I had to tie off the umbilical cord 6 inches from Kai’rin’s belly button with my shoelace,” she told Roker in a matter-of-fact tone. “But I had to get it out of my shoes first.”
“Thank goodness you weren’t wearing Velcro shoes,” Roker joked.
Sundukos arrived at the family’s home just after EMT crews, who took Kai’rin and Lujan to Mercy San Juan Medical Center in Sacramento. Kai’rin was admitted to the hospital and will remain there until he’s big enough to go home. His mother spends as much time at the hospital with him as the rules allow.
Roker asked Jaidan what it’s like to be a big sister.
“I don’t think I’m actually a big sister yet,” she replied. “When he finally comes home, then I’ll be a big sister.”
Judging by the cool way she handled her close encounter with the reality of childbirth, she’ll be a good one.