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Crystal and Mark Vis pose with their newborn son, Dallas, and children Mia (from left), Brielle and Elia in their Worthington home. Ryan McGaughey/Daily Globe

Baby — boom!

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WORTHINGTON — Crystal and Mark Vis, along with their three daughters, Brielle, aged 10, and twins Mia and Elia, 7, headed out on vacation without a care in the world, despite Crystal being 33 weeks pregnant. They were headed from Worthington to Bozeman, Mont., where Mark and Crystal had lived for five years and where Brielle was born.

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“We moved away eight years ago,” explained Crystal, as she gently rocked a sleeping baby in her arms. “But we’ve been back several times over the years. We’ve kept up with friends and have some relatives there, too.”

Their goal — to get away and relax and celebrate Crystal’s sister Annette Bosma’s 30th birthday — was met in part, but with it came the most unexpected souvenir they could have imagined.

“I had a doctor’s appointment right before we left,” Crystal said. “I went in and everything was perfect, the baby was fine, there wasn’t even a smidgen of concern. But the doctor said, ‘Just in case, we’ll give you a copy of your medical records.’ So they put it in this bright yellow envelope and I put it in my purse and we headed out.”

They caravanned with Crystal’s parents and took the trip slowly, stopping every few hours for Crystal to stretch her legs.

They arrived on a Saturday, attended church on Sunday, and after the service Crystal and her mother headed to a friend’s lakeshore cabin with Brielle and Mia and Elia, leaving the rest of the family to golf.

As they drove to the cabin, Crystal began to feel a little worse for the wear.

“We got to the lake house, and Mom made me sit down and relax. I just thought I was tired, but I kept feeling kinda lousy. Mom made supper and made me just sit and rest.”

The next morning, hoping for a day filled with sunshine and water activities, Crystal instead began to feel worse. She even began to bleed. But through it all, she didn’t believe she was having contractions.

“She was in denial,” said sister Annette with a smile.

Finally, Crystal phoned Dr. Firas Farra’s office back home and was told to go to the nearest hospital to be checked. Better safe than sorry. But, as with so many birth stories, the contractions slowed, everything looked fine with the baby, and they sent her back to the lake house with an antibiotic for a UTI infection. They did tell her she was beginning to dilate, but that was to be expected.

Much to Crystal’s dismay, they also told her to stay off of the water and out of the sun. For the next two days, Crystal sat in the shade and watched her family play.

“I was disappointed, but then I thought, ‘It’s so beautiful, who cares? I’m not gonna complain.’”

On Wednesday, they left the lake house and headed to a friend’s house in town to stay for a few more days before heading home. Crystal continued to take it easy. Then came Thursday night.

“I had a lousy night,” said Crystal. “I couldn’t sleep, I was still bleeding, and I was getting a little concerned because we were planning on leaving for home at 8 a.m. Friday morning. And the antibiotic they’d given me wasn’t doing squat! So all night long I couldn’t sleep, and I just kept thinking, ‘It’s not serious, I’m OK.’”

Finally 7:30 a.m. rolled around and Crystal told her husband, “I need your help. I can’t do anything, and I don’t feel good.” She just wanted to be home. To be with her trusted doctor. To not have to face two days of driving.

“I kept thinking, what if we get on the highway and something happens with the baby and what then? What if we get past Billings and there’s miles and miles of nothing?”

She started timing her contractions — though she still wasn’t certain that they really were contractions — and that’s when she started getting really concerned. Once again she phoned Dr. Farra’s office and was told to get to the nearest emergency room immediately. Finally, she was in so much pain that she agreed that was the best plan. As it turned out, the nearest hospital was the exact same hospital in which Brielle had been born.

“I felt so bad. I couldn’t even say goodbye to our friends. I was just bawling. But I was still sure this wasn’t serious! That it was stupid to go in.”

When they entered the hospital, a nurse took one look at her and got her into a wheelchair. They headed down the corridor so quickly that Mark could barely keep up. Crystal may have been in denial, but the nurse knew exactly what was going on.

They took her straight to a labor and delivery room where, despite July being the busiest month for deliveries, she was able to go right in. They hooked her up to the monitors and ultimately found that she was now dilated to seven centimeters. By now Crystal’s contractions were so strong that she could barely see straight. And she was afraid.

“I was so very worried. I was only 34 weeks! They had to make it stop! I was really worried about having a VBAC (a vaginal birth after Cesarean). Dr. Farra and I had talked about it, but he hadn’t OK’d this! I wanted to call him and get permission.”

Finally, the doctor told her that she was the perfect candidate for a VBAC. In fact, since the baby was premature, his small size would help. Mark, staying calm and rational, said that he felt it would be OK. Crystal capitulated to the inevitable — both the VBAC and the fact that her baby was going to be born while they were on vacation.

After receiving a traumatic epidural and being told she had “probably two hours” until the baby was born, Crystal tried to sleep. The doctor walked out the door, assuming he’d be called back in a couple of hours time.

And then, suddenly, Crystal knew it was time for the baby to be born. The nurse agreed. She hollered to the doctor as he walked away down the hall, and he turned around and came running.

Dallas Graham Vis was born a few minutes later, at 2:20 p.m. July 25th, weighing in at 4 pounds 9 ounces.

Amazingly for a baby born six weeks prematurely, he needed only a few seconds of oxygen and never again had any need of special medical treatment. Other than a small bilirubin scare and fluctuating temperatures, he was perfect.

His sisters thought so, too. They brought him presents to the hospital, bought under the supervision of Aunt Annette, and were thrilled to have a brother.

The last question, of course, was how to get Mother and Baby home.

Through the help of friends, family, complete strangers, and “God-arranged events,” Mark was able to get back to work, the girls and grandparents and Aunt Annette got home, and Crystal and Dallas were able to get on two airplanes (with gifted air miles) despite airline regulations about newborn babies flying and the packages of premade formula that the baby needed to have available. They arrived home one week after Dallas was born.

Crystal is full of praise for their friends in Montana who helped in so many ways, the hospital staff, even the flight crew and passengers on the plane.

“I thought it would be the worst thing in the world that he wasn’t born at home,” said Crystal, “but that wasn’t meant to be. But I gotta find the humor in it. I gotta find the blessings in it.”

Dallas, oblivious to all the fuss he caused, slept on in his mother’s arms.

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