Jordan Gribble / Houma Courier
Kelli wanted her baby born naturally and drug free. Christopher had the perfect way to tell family and friends the baby's gender, which they were keeping as a surprise.The Houma couple also expected to have their baby born at Thibodaux Regional Medical Center.But it didn't quite go the way they planned.Much to the parents' surprise, the baby was born in a parking lot Friday morning on the way to the hospital.'I was thinking that it might be today, but I was thinking it would happen around noon. But things they progressed really quickly,' Kelli said.Christopher had just gotten off the night shift as a deputy of the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff's Office when his wife called and said the contractions she had been experiencing on-and-off for the past week were getting serious.He rushed home and helped his wife of two years into their van. As they headed out, Kelli's water broke.'I thought we had some time if we drove fast,' Kelli said.Unfortunately, they weren't able to drive fast enough. The baby's head started crowning as they drove to the hospital.Christopher called for reinforcements.'I called my dispatch and told them to get me an escort. They tried to intercept us when we were in Gray, but the baby had started crowning and then the head popped out,' he said.Christopher said he had no choice but to pull over in the first parking lot he saw at the Family Dollar store in Gray.Emergency responders were on their way to the store, but Annalise Rose Duplantis wasn't going to wait. The 7-pound, 8-ounce baby was born before they arrived.'I pulled over and put the van in park and ran around to the other side, and by the time I got there I caught the baby on the front seat,' Christopher said.Christopher said a dispatch employee at Acadian Ambulance instructed him on what to do next.'They asked me if the cord was wrapped around her and it wasn't. So I gave her to Kelli so they could have skin-to-skin contact to warm her up. Then they said that I needed to tie the cord off with a string. But the only string I had was my shoestring, so I ripped it off of my left shoe and tied it off,' he said.The ambulance arrived minutes later and escorted Annalise and her parents to the hospital.Both Kelli and baby are doing fine and are expected to go home from the hospital today.'I know when she grows up and we pass by the Family Dollar I'll be able to say, 'And that's where you were born!'' Kelli said.