They're such miracles. And they're fighters. They're strong. They're going to be a couple of amazing boys. —Lynette Hales
MURRAY — There was a calm glow surrounding Lynette Hales as she spoke Monday about delivering two tiny but determined boys along a remote stretch of I-80 over the weekend.
Pictures of the twins were displayed on the wall behind her, while the babies rested in the neonatal intensive care unit at Intermountain Medical Center, growing stronger, little by little.
"They're such miracles," Hales said. "And they're fighters. They're strong. They're going to be a couple of amazing boys."
At times tears came to her eyes as she spoke about the frightening moments Sunday morning attempting CPR to get J.J. — short for Jeffery Junior, after his father — to begin breathing, even as she watched the color drain from his body.
At other moments she laughed, explaining that perhaps the name she had chosen for her second son, Anthony James, or A.J. for short, was appropriate considering the family friend who helped with the twins' delivery is also named James.
The two boys weighed about 3 pounds each and weren't due until Aug. 11. Now, Hales hopes her children will be ready to leave the hospital by then. They are in satisfactory condition and continually improving.
Hales and her colleague Jim Gerber were in Wendover, Nev., with co-workers when Hales realized something was wrong with her pregnancy and there were no hospitals nearby. She was only 30 weeks along, and they decided to make a run for it, hoping to reach a hospital in Tooele.
Gerber called 911 just after 9 a.m. to inform dispatchers in Utah he was headed their way in a speeding minivan, and was on the phone when it became clear the babies needed to be delivered.
They pulled over near mile marker 25, and through a harrowing 20 minutes, Gerber and Hales stayed remarkably calm as they delivered J.J., then worked to save him.
In the 911 call, Hales is heard talking to the infant, telling him, "Come on, baby. You have to live. J.J., you have to live."
"Talking to him, it was like he was connected there," Hales said Monday. "He would look up at us, and he would look up at me, and I was like, 'I'm not going to let you go. You're going to be here, buddy.'"
As a former Navy corpsman, Gerber said he pushed emotion aside and followed the dispatcher's instructions, performing chest compressions and rescue breathing. Both Hales and Gerber are medical assistants.
"I didn't even think I was calm," Gerber said. "I was just going step after step after step. That's what the Navy corpsmen do. Whether it's good or bad, you do what you have to do, and you worry about the emotion later."
He admitted that after Hales and the babies were taken by medical helicopter, he sat on the side of the highway and let that emotion wash over him — a smile for the miracle that had occurred, and shock over how tenuous the unlikely situation had been.
Gerber said he knew everything was going to be OK when he saw red and blue police lights approaching at high speed from east and west, a cavalry coming from both sides.
Three officers arrived and used a small suction bulb to clear J.J.'s airway, relieved when the baby began breathing and regaining color in his skin. J.J. then went into the caring arms of Tooele Deputy Sheriff Eric McCollum, who humbly said it all just a part of the job.
It became clear as Utah Highway Patrol trooper Cameron Fawson stepped in to deliver the second child, that little A.J. was coming feet first. Despite the complication, the second baby arrived safely.
"We used the little bulb syringe, a little pat on the bum (and) we got the first cry," Fawson said with a smile. "Mom was quite the sport. I think she was keeping me calm. She made a comment like, 'The baby can hear you,' so I told him to come on out."
Two medical helicopters took Hales and her two babies to Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, where her husband, Jeff, was waiting for his "highway babies."
"I didn't know how Lynette was or anything," he said. "When the second helicopter came with her in it, I was just so relieved. And once I knew she was OK, all I wanted was to see my boys."
Now, all the couple of nine years wants to do is hold their babies, and eventually take them home. For now, they want to say thank you.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: McKenzieRomero