Dad. Father. Pops… no matter what you call him, this Sunday, June 17, will remind every person of that endearing gentleman in our lives. For one Bethany Beach resident in particular, though, the bonding experience he shares with his 2-year-old daughter is one that very few fathers can vouch.
The evening of April 24, 2005, began like any normal one for Nick Kypreos, who was preparing to help then-two-year-old son Aidan with his dinner. However, Nick’s wife, Julie — who was nine months into her second pregnancy — felt a little differently.
“I told Nick that I was probably going to have the baby later that night or the next day,” she recalled. Little did she know, it would be only hours later that she and her husband would be streaming up Coastal Highway to the Beebe Medical Center in Lewes.
“[Julie] began going into her contractions,” Nick remembered, “and her pains were becoming more intense, so we decided to go.”
With their car’s horn honking and lights flashing, Nick managed to steer their Ford Expedition while talking on his cell phone to the receptionist at the hospital.
“I told them our situation and said that they better be ready for us when we get there,” he said. He weaved through the light traffic on Route 1, with his wife in the passenger seat, growing worried.
“We were at the Indian River Inlet Bridge and I told him, ‘We’re not going to be able to make it all the way there,’” said Julie. It was a notion that Nick’s mother-in-law had jokingly warned them of earlier that day, too.
Nick, with his adrenaline pumping, drove even faster, hitting well above the speed limits through Dewey Beach and Rehoboth Beach, before his wife insisted he pull over, only a mile from the hospital. “I told him, ‘You’re going to have to help deliver the baby.’”
Finally, after pulling off to the shoulder, Nick reached over, and welcomed their daughter, Sophia Ann, into the world.
“I hadn’t even taken time to undo my seatbelt,” he recalled. “I reached over from my seat. I was just so focused on the task at hand.”
Upon her arrival, Sophia let out a little cry, assuring the proud parents that she was fine. The delivery itself took only a few minutes, and seemed even shorter, the couple recalled.
After wrapping the newborn in a sweatshirt, and placing her in the loving arms of her mother, Nick finished the drive to the hospital, where he cut the umbilical cord, and was even named the delivering doctor on their daughter’s birth certificate.
“It’s very hard to describe the feelings you get from something like this,” said Nick. “It’s a special feeling to think that you’re the first person to welcome this baby into the world. I was the first person she ever saw.”
The incident has been an unforgettable one for the Kypreoses.
“I’m happy to have gone through the experience,” said Nick. “You can’t plan for something like this, and you don’t realize just how lucky you are until after it’s all done.”
Despite the speedy driving, Julie remembered how collected her husband remained through the entire process.
“There was a sense of comfort, in a way,” she said, of the in-the-field birth. “Instincts really kick in through something like this. [Nick] was very calm in the situation and he handled everything very well.”
“Being our second child,” said Nick, “I felt a little more comfortable. It was a team effort, and I was just doing what I had to do.”
After an event so memorable, it’s impossible for the couple not to look back and wonder, “What if?”
“We were very fortunate that she was a beautiful, healthy baby,” Nick Kypreos said. “Afterwards, you think about what could have happened if there were complications [during the birth]. We were very lucky and so fortunate.”
Sophia Ann is the couple’s second child, though — a fourth for Nick, who has two sons from a previous marriage. “It’s a different experience and really unique,” he said. “She’s my little girl, and we’re always going to have that close father-and-daughter relationship.”
Although it was a stressful situation at the time, the couple keeps a sense of humor about the event. Two years earlier, in early July of 2003, when Julie had given birth to the couple’s first child, Aidan, they had spent more time at the hospital than they had planned.
“We didn’t want to spend days in the hospital with our second child,” said Nick Kypreos. “We waited until we had to leave — though it was maybe a little late.”
“It’s a lot more expensive to have an in-the-field-birth, too,” joked Julie, noting that the hospital ran emergency tests, in addition to the regular maternity processes. “In hindsight, we should have just stayed at the house.”
But driving through Rehoboth and Lewes always sparks memories for the family.
“We can’t help but think about it all when we go past the hospital, or the spot where we had to pull off to the side,” Nick said. They point out the spot to family members and friends, and Nick said he anticipates the day he’ll be able to tell his daughter the whole story.
“On one hand, it seems so long ago,” he added. “She’s growing up fast and starts walking and talking. Her birthdays really are a recollection of the whole thing.” Sophia Ann celebrated her second one earlier this spring.
“On another hand,” he said, “it still seems like yesterday, because we cherish the memories and really keep them in our mind. It all still seems so fresh.”