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WITH NO TIME TO SPARE, TWO COPS HELP A NEW LIFE DEBUT


May 16, 2000
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WITH NO TIME TO SPARE, TWO COPS HELP A NEW LIFE DEBUT

The Record (Bergen County, NJ) -- Tyler James Flechsig entered the world with such a bang that he shocked not only his parents but two Elmwood Park police officers who helped deliver him. Cops rarely get the chance to see life begin. Often, they're called when life ends. "Most officers don't get the opportunity during their entire careers to deliver a baby, and it's the one thing every cop says he or she would love to do before retiring," said Chris Liptak, one of the officers. "It's the greatest part of the job, a once in a lifetime thing." With Liptak, it meant even more. Liptak took Lamaze classes when his wife, Christine, was pregnant with their daughter, Brianna, now 3. When she went into labor, Liptak was excited. "They gave me a hospital gown and boots, scrubs... everything to go in there," he said. "I couldn't wait to see it." But Liptak was robbed of that joy because his wife delivered by Caesarean section and he wasn't allowed in. "It was a big letdown," he said. "I didn't see my daughter for three hours." Liptak had responded to emergency childbirth calls before in his six years on the force. Some were false alarms or miscarriages. Most of the time, he watched paramedics take over and transport the mother to a hospital before the baby arrived. Liptak and Bryan DiPasquale, also on the force six years, suspected a miscarriage when James Flechsig called early on April 29 and said his wife was pregnant and bleeding heavily. Hearing the alert over their car radios, each headed for Flechsig's apartment on Levy Court while an ambulance was dispatched. Anna Flechsig wasn't due to deliver for another month, May 30. So when she woke up at 4:30 a.m. with pains, she thought the baby might be, "boring up in a ball on one side." The pain grew worse, and, at 6 a.m. she went into the bathroom and saw she was bleeding. Anna Flechsig, who has a son, Efrain, 13, by a first marriage, put sweat clothes on for the trip to the hospital but had to lie on the bed. "The pain was so bad, I couldn't stand up," she said. Her husband, James, was nervous. This was his first child and he had thought long and hard about the awesome responsibility of raising a child." I wanted to make sure I was prepared to be a father," he said. He had pictured his role as father beginning with a medical team around, under bright lights, in a hospital. "This wasn't the traditional way I expected," he said. "Everything was happening so fast." Adding to the pressure, the couple's lease in their Elmwood Park apartment had run out. They found an apartment two days earlier in Hackensack and were supposed to move that very day. But nothing mattered to James now but that Anna was bleeding. Frightened, he called 911. "I was concerned about complications," he said. James pointed to the bathroom when Liptak and DiPasquale arrived. "She's in there and she's bleeding bad," he said. But the men were shocked when Anna emerged from the bathroom with such a large stomach. Like James Flechsig, DiPasquale, who is single, had never witnessed childbirth. He was nervous. "I didn't want anything wrong to happen and have to live with the fact that I was there when it did." Liptak thought of everything that could go wrong. He remembered his wife needing a Caesarean section. "I thought it could happen again. Things race through your mind... 'God forbid the baby is breech or stillborn or the umbilical cord is wrapped around its neck." The men laid Anna, 29, on the bed. "They comforted her, helped her get comfortable any way that they could," James said. They were terrific." Anna tried to get up twice but kept blacking out. Liptak ran to his squad car for oxygen while DiPasquale waited to guide paramedics to the apartment, located in the back of a house on a cul-de-sac. "For a brief time, it was just me, Anna, and God," James said. "She was in and out of consciousness, and the second time she came to, she was shaking and her eyes were real wide." Suddenly, Anna felt something slip from her body. She looked up at her husband and felt her sweat pants. "I said, 'Honey, the head is out! The head is out!'" Flechsig ran out to get Liptak and DiPasquale, yelling, "The baby's coming... the baby's coming!" The officers raced back in, followed by Kevin Webb, a paramedic for St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Paterson who had just arrived. Liptak administered oxygen to Anna and the men helped her into a birthing position. "We were putting a towel under her when the baby shot out like a bullet out of gun," Liptak said. "He came out crying. As soon as I heard that cry, it was as if 100 pounds had been lifted off my chest." Tyler weighed in at 5 pounds 4 ounces. Webb wrapped him in a towel. Liptak and DiPasquale wrapped him in another to keep the new arrivalwarm. Liptak grabbed two clamps from his (childbirth) kit, and Webbclamped the umbilical cord. "He turned to me and asked, 'Daddy, Do you want to cut the umbilical cord?'" James said. "It was symbolic to me. Once I cut the cord, this child was my responsibility to take care of. It's an incredibly emotional experience." He praised the two officers, the tallest in the department, each a towering 6 feet 4 inches. "They're huge guys, and they're huge in our lives, too," James said. "They did an outstanding job. We love them." The officers visited later at the couple's new Hackensack apartmentwith a baby gift and a note that touched the hearts of the new parents. "They said what an important day it was in their careers. I got the impression that they also felt like fathers to Tyler," James said. "They hugged us, and it was odd seeing the very human and emotional side of these officers." Liptak and DiPasquale were moved. "Usually you feel bad for people when you go out on calls. You wish you could help them and often you can't," DiPasquale said. "This was completely different. I felt great getting to see this little guy being born." Liptak said jealous colleagues congratulated them when they returned to headquarters. "Most of the calls police go out on are not pretty, but something like this makes up for everything," he said. "You could arrest a million burglars, and it wouldn't add up with that one delivery. Unless you go through it, you can never truly find the words to explain it." For Liptak, Tyler's birth balanced the scales a bit. "In a way, it made up for missing my daughter's birth," he said.




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