Not many children can say they started their school day helping their mother give birth, but two Rock Hill middle school students can – and they were honored Monday for their heroic deed.
Nykiaya Williams-Brown and Nykailyn Williams-Brown, both 13, were getting ready for school early Sept. 8 when they heard what they thought was their pregnant mother, Marquita Gales, falling in the shower.
Gales said she started experiencing contractions several hours earlier, but that the doctor said there was no need to come to the hospital. When the contractions grew stronger, Gales said she called the midwife and put Nykiaya on the phone.
“I talked to the midwife, but the midwife wasn’t helping,” Nykiaya said, shaking her head and laughing. “So I called 911.”
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Gales said Nykiaya is the “quieter” of the twins, but that she took charge of the situation, instructing her sister to go get towels.
“I told her no because I didn’t want to do it,” Nykailyn said. “But I did it anyway.”
Nykiaya gave the dispatcher the family’s address, answered questions and relayed instructions from the dispatcher to her mother.
While Nykiaya was on the phone with 911, her sister took care of their mother. Gales admits she is stubborn and initially didn’t listen to the dispatcher’s instructions to lay down on the bed, but she finally did at Nykailyn’s insistence.
“Two pushes later – like five minutes – (baby Kennedy) was out on the bed,” Gales said. “I’m so glad I sat down, because if not, she would have been on our floor somewhere.”
Nykailyn said she was acting on adrenaline.
“I didn’t think twice about doing it because she’s my mom and I love her, so I have to help her,” she said. “I was crying. I didn’t know what to do and I didn’t want to see something I didn’t want to see.”
Gales said the entire thing unfolded in just several minutes, and that it wasn’t until after paramedics arrived that her new daughter, Kennedy, finally cried.
“At first she wasn’t crying,” Nykailyn said. “It was like my heart stopped. Mom touched her and she started crying. That was the best feeling in the world when she – oh, my goodness, it felt good.”
Paramedics took Gales and her new daughter to the hospital. A neighbor helped clean up, before the twins were off to school. They were able to see their baby sister that afternoon after school with their father, Troy Gales, who was on the way home from work that morning when his wife went into labor.
“A sigh of relief,” he said of hearing what happened. “To hear everybody came together and stepped up was a big lift off my shoulders.”
Amber Walker, a dispatcher with York County Public Safety Communications for three years, had just sat down with her coffee that morning when she took the call from the twins.
“Most of the time when I answer calls when people are in labor, it’s not this far along,” she said. “They have time for the paramedics to get on the scene. But this time it was different; that baby was coming and it was there quickly.”
Walker said this was her first time delivering a baby over the phone.
“They were younger, and it was easier to get them to help,” she said of the twins. “They take more to what you say because they’re in an emergency and want all the help that they can get. They’re not going to give you too much back-and-forth.”
Rarely do 911 dispatchers know what happens to the people on the other end of the line after a call ends. Even rarer is meeting those people.
Walker was on hand Monday, when York County emergency officials paid a visit to Sullivan Middle School to honor Nykailyn and Nykiaya on their school’s morning TV show. The girls each received a plaque and will have their pictures put up at Public Safety Communications headquarters along with other recipients of the “911 Hero” award.
The firefighters and paramedics who responded to the house to take Gales to the hospital also were present for Monday’s recognition.
Walker said she didn’t realize until a few days ago that she was talking to twin girls on the phone that day.
“It’s really great to see them and put a face with the names, and also to see the baby,” Walker said.
Gales said her daughters were “definitely” heroes.
“I’m glad I wasn’t home alone, because I don’t know what I would have done,” she said. “I did not plan to have (Kennedy) at home. I don’t recommend it, but this is the best outcome. We’re definitely indebted to the girls.”