A true story of women on their own in an Oklahoma lockup
By Laci Berg as told to Mary Fish Story courtesy of Victoria Law
My name is Laci. I am a locked-up pregnant lady at Oklahoma’s Mabel Bassett Correctional Center. Previously, I was in Caddo County Jail on a controlled of a dangerous substance charge with a former conviction of a felony. One of my cellmates (there were about 40 of us in this jail) was pregnant. Her name was Cheree and she was Native and Caucasian. One afternoon, she went into labor. They brought the trays and we told the male guard she was in labor. He said, “I’ll see what I can do,” and he left.
Cheree started crowning—this baby was coming and she wasn’t waiting on anybody. My other cellies were banging o on the door, hollering for the guard and saying, “We’re having a baby!” They were pushing the button to central control and telling them, “The baby is coming!”
They answered back, “Quit yelling and quit banging and quit pushing the button!” So we did and commenced to having a baby!
I grabbed my sheet to hold as a curtain so she could have some semblance of privacy, as the bottom bunk was layered with our towels to catch the fluids. We draped a towel over her knees as they were positioned for the baby to come out. The baby’s head was crowning when the EMTs came in and misdiagnosed Cheree, saying, “No, she is not crowning!” And they left.
My cellies were banging on the door, hollering for the guard and saying, “We’re having a baby!”
I saw Cheree’s face getting red and I thought she needed air, so I let the sheet down and everybody in the pod started scream- ing as the baby’s head was coming. I don’t know if it was from shock or what, but I put the sheet back up. Cheree was too tired to push anymore. The umbilical cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck twice. We tried to urge her to push, but she said she couldn’t. So Kathryn, who was studying to be a nurse, came over, wrapped a towel around the baby’s head and unwrapped the umbilical cord around her neck. Within five minutes, we, the locked-up women delivered Patience Rose, a 21-inch, beautiful baby girl out into the world at Caddo County Jail. She had long legs, and lots of hair.
The EMTs came back about 10 minutes later and took her to the hospital.