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Happy but harrowing: Cotton Lake parents act fast when their third child is unexpectedly born at home and unresponsive

Ivan Anderson was born Jan. 3. He came into the world quickly and his parents had to act fast to save his life. Submitted photo1 / 2
An Anderson family portrait: Ryan Anderson sits in the middle holding his daughter Everly, who is holding Ivan. Taylyn sits on the left, and Sarah is on the right. Submitted photo2 / 2

COTTON LAKE, Minn. -- Ryan Anderson let out a heavy sigh of both overwhelm and relief when asked to recall how his son came into the world a few weeks ago. He and his wife, Sarah, may laugh about the birth of their third child now, but they both say the events of the morning of Jan. 3 were serious — and nothing short of shocking.

At 39 weeks pregnant, Sarah says she started having contractions, “but nothing regular.” She knew if she went in before her contractions were about five minutes apart, she’d most likely just get sent home and told to wait it out.

The couple was ready to go, well prepared for their third child. A bag was packed. They just had to get in the car and go, but as the early morning hours of Jan. 3 wore on, nothing more really happened. It was starting to look like little Ivan wasn’t going to come out yet after all.

“About 5:30 (a.m.), I wake up with this contraction that never really ends,” said Sarah. “It was pretty intense, so I told Ryan to call the hospital...I made it across the house to the door...I said, ‘Call 911.’ He’s like, ‘No, you gotta get in the car. You gotta get in the car.’ And I’m like, ‘Nope. You need to call 911. I’m not going anywhere.’”

Ryan helped his wife lay down, and it wasn’t more than a couple minutes later that he was holding his son.

“His head, one push, and then a second push, and he was right here,” Ryan recalled. “It was probably the most beautiful and horrifying moment of my life. It was: ‘There’s my boy ... he’s not breathing.’”

When Ivan was born, the cord was wrapped around his neck twice, and Ryan and Sarah say he was blue and unresponsive. The couple had to deal with a whole different emergency now.

“We had to jump into action fast,” said Sarah, adding that the 911 dispatcher had transferred them to a guy on a medical line who instructed them to do rescue breaths and then perform CPR.

Ryan says at this point, they were frantic: The Essentia Health ambulance was nearing their Cotton Lake home, which sits about 20 minutes out of Detroit Lakes, but their son just wasn’t coming around.

“The ambulance came, and we really didn’t know at that point, but his color had come back… that was a little reassuring for us,” said Sarah.

Ryan drove his truck to the hospital, following the ambulance carrying his wife and son, and called his parents asking them to say a prayer. He says when he arrived and found his wife, they both just looked at each other as they came out of this panic mindset and eventually realized their son was going to be ok.

Little Ivan’s temperature was below normal but once it came up, Sarah says, he was awake and alert — and hungry.

“You know, it was so much at the time, but everything really just turned out...it was the best possible scenario, the outcome,” she said. “We just felt very blessed.”