Father helps wife deliver firstborn in bathtub after couple says hospital sent them home

Posted at 8:24 PM, Sep 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-16 20:24:04-04

CHESAPEAKE, Va. - A father had to deliver his own son in the bathtub of his family’s Virginia home after the hospital told them to come back when his wife's labor was further along, he told WTKR.

Leo Bienaime took a picture moments after his son was born.

“Everyone that we showed the picture to was like, 'Wait ... why is there shampoo in the background?'” said Leo. “Don’t try this at home.”

The couple said they went to Naval Medical Center Portsmouth on August 23 around 8:30 p.m. and were told to go home about four hours later.

“I was told that I should come back when my contractions were when you can’t really walk and you can’t really talk through them,” said Leo's wife, LeeAnn.

She said she has a high pain tolerance, and the couple drove 25 minutes home.

“If I could do it again, I would’ve just sat in the waiting room and not left. We would’ve pitched a tent. We would’ve started a fire. We would’ve just straight-up camped,” Leo jokingly told WTKR.

LeeAnn said she kept walking back and forth to the bathroom. She said she felt her son’s head. She said she wanted to hold the labor back and wait for professionals, but she said she couldn’t.

She got into the bathtub, and her husband called 911.

They said less than four hours after they returned home, little Joachim entered the world.

“I had to let instinct take over and just go with it and kind of release myself to the experience,” said LeeAnn.

The couple praised the firefighters who responded to the house and the person who answered their 911 call from the Chesapeake Safety Operations Center.

“She was the sweetest lady. I wish I could get her name and give her some cookies. She was the sweetest lady.”

LeeAnn said several people asked her if she planned to have the baby at home.

“I’m like, 'No, because he doesn’t look like a doctor. He doesn’t have any experience,'" said LeeAnn.

Thankfully, mother and son were okay.

“We were able to have a healthy birth, a healthy baby boy – that’s why I’m not completely enraged,” said LeeAnn. “I feel like if it had gone another way, it would’ve been a different story.”

LeeAnn encourages other mothers to follow their instincts and to be an advocate for themselves.

Leo said he will be telling this story for the rest of his life.

WTKR reached out to the Naval Medical Center Portsmouth about the situation, and received the following statement:

Naval Medical Center Portsmouth is committed to ensuring the safety of every patient and providing high quality care.  Whenever a patient has a concern about their care and treatment, we welcome the opportunity to discuss this with them and resolve any potential issues.  Due to HIPAA, we cannot discuss anything specific on an individual's medical treatment without their authorization. The patient has been contacted directly about her care while here at NMCP.

Shauna O'Sullivan DO, FACP CDR, MC, USN, Director of Strategy and Operations, Acting, Public Affairs Officer