There are some life milestones that you don’t want to miss because they may only occur once. Whether it’s a graduation, wedding, funeral, or birth, those memories are difficult to recapture after they’ve passed.
Ryan Burkhart of Saco understands that sentiment firsthand.
Burkhart is a merchant mariner in the Gulf of Mexico who ships out every other month. He and his wife, Emily, had planned his work schedule in order for him to be home for the birth of their first child, Weston. Ryan planned to return home 10 days before Weston’s due date of Feb. 20, just in case he arrived early.
“I told Weston every night, you know, ‘Wait for Daddy to get here!'” Emily joked.
Ryan Burkhart of Saco ships out for work. He and his wife planned his schedule around their first child’s birth — but their son came early. How Ryan made it home in time for the big moment against all odds on @newscentermaine at 5:30 and 6:30 a.m. #wakeMEup
?: Ryan Burkhart pic.twitter.com/X1UVca2mDT
— Chloe Teboe (@ChloeTeboe) February 23, 2022
Weston didn’t seem to want to wait. Emily went into labor early, calling Ryan in the early morning hours of February 9th.
“I got a call from her at 2:30 a.m. that her water broke, and I was still on the ship,” Ryan said.
Ryan expressed his dissatisfaction. He’d been offered a helicopter ride off the ship the day before, but he’d declined because he didn’t think it was necessary to leave before Thursday.
“I was kind of beating myself up about not taking more time off, so I could be there,” Ryan said.
Ryan couldn’t sleep after hearing the news, so he called Chief Mate John Chippendale, who was starting his shift at 5 a.m. in a couple of hours.
Ryan informed Chippendale that he required a helicopter the following day and asked him to relay the request to the captain.
“When you work 12 hours a day with someone, you talk about everything and anything, and you get to know each other pretty well,” Chippendale said about his years-long relationship with Ryan.
“That day, he was definitely in a different headspace. He was freaking out pretty bad and really wanted to get off the ship in a hurry,” he continued.
The helicopter arrived Wednesday afternoon, but it kept getting delayed, causing Ryan to miss three flights that he had planned to take.
Desperation and perseverance drove him to conduct a quick Google search on his phone, where he found a flight from New Orleans to Detroit to Boston.
Ryan made the reservation and boarded the plane at 6:30 p.m.
He arrived in Boston after midnight and rented a car to drive home.
He was communicating with Emily the entire time.
Doctors and nurses, it turns out, were listening to her requests to postpone the birth as long as possible.
“When I crossed the bridge, I got into Maine, and she still hadn’t delivered — and I was like, ‘I really have a shot here,'” Ryan said.
Ryan walked into Maine Medical Center around 3 a.m. after hurriedly parking in a snowbank.
When he stepped onto the floor, nurses began clapping and directing him to Emily’s room. Weston had yet to arrive.
“When he walked in, it was like, ‘Ah!’ You know, I was jumping up and down,” Pam Davis, Emily’s mother, said.
“It was very emotional,” Emily said.
Emily and Ryan welcomed Weston Wayne Burkhart into the world at 4:17 a.m., after traveling nearly 2,000 miles and 25 hours.
on Thursday, February 10th
“It was like when the Patriots beat Atlanta in the Super Bowl — just little things kept happening to make it happen,” Ryan said like a true New Englander.
Ryan is now on leave for six weeks to adjust to parenthood with Emily.
The couple stated that at this point, Weston is sleeping all day and awake all night, so their collaboration has been extremely beneficial.