In the pre-dawn hours of Aug. 26, Colleen Joseph, R.N., and the Wanagat family were about to share a moment no one would ever forget.
Anna Wanagat’s baby wasn’t due until the first week of September, but when her water broke at 4:45 a.m. that Monday morning, she knew she would be heading to the hospital earlier than expected.
Meanwhile, Colleen, who friends call CJ, a nursing educator for the cardiac progressive care unit at Beaumont Hospital, Troy, was getting ready to head to work a little early to set up for a co-worker’s birthday celebration.
“I normally get to work early, but I wanted to get here extra early to set up,” says CJ. “I dragged my feet a little that morning, but as I was driving down Dequindre, I felt like I needed to rush.”
CJ pulled up to the West Entrance to unload party supplies. But as she was getting out of her car, another vehicle pulled up behind her and she heard screaming. “I remember pulling into the West Entrance and thought we’d be able to get a wheelchair,” says Scott Wanagat,
Anna’s husband. “When I opened the car door, I saw the baby coming out and thought ‘I have to find something to catch him in!’” Luckily, CJ ran to help. “I instructed the father to run in and call a ‘code.’ I was hoping that I could just sit there with his little head in my hands until the code team got there,” remembers CJ.
“As soon as Colleen showed up, she said we needed to get the seat laying down, so I jumped in back and moved a car seat so Anna could lay down,” says Scott. “That’s when he started making his way out.”
A cardiac nurse for 23 years, CJ has never experienced anything like this. “As soon as Scott put the seat back, out came little Joshua,” she says. “Inside I was shaking. I’ve never done anything like this. Th e closest I’ve come is maybe a Lifetime movie. It was incredible having that little life in my hands.”
Joshua Salvatore Wanagat made his world debut at 5:45 a.m. inside his parent’s car, in the driveway of Beaumont, Troy. He joins his big brother, Lucas, who is 3.
The shock of the moment is still settling in, though. “I can do CPR, pull a femoral line, jump on a chest, anything. But never deliver a baby!” says CJ. “I feel so good about having been placed in that moment and I know that wasn’t by my design.”
The proud parents were incredibly relieved to see Colleen jump out of the car ahead of them. “I caught her white coat out of the corner of my eye,” Scott says. “When I heard her yell through the door I thought, ‘Thank God someone who knows what’s going on is here.’”
Though not the birthing experience she expected, Anna says, “Thank God a nurse was there! She rushed to our rescue!”