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Teenager delivers baby alone in jail cell

Blood covered Terra Keil's hands, and her cries echoed against the jail cell walls.
But the Dubuque County Jail inmate said she took little notice of her own tears; she was focused on the howls coming from the infant squirming in her arms. 
Early Tuesday morning, the 19-year-old Dubuque woman gave birth behind bars.
Keil claims guards ignored her pleas for help and left her to deliver her son alone. Jail officials say the mother never showed signs she was in labor.
"I guess it's a he said-she said situation," Keil said. "I know it's their word against mine, but how does somebody have a baby in jail without anybody noticing?"

'Nobody came'
On Monday evening, Keil said, she was walking home from a friend's house when a patrol car pulled near. Moments later, she was under arrest for violating parole conditions for previous drug charges. She said a warrant was issued after she stopped meeting with her parole officer.
The obviously pregnant Keil told officials about her condition, and, per jail procedure, she completed a medical questionnaire.
"I had no pain, no problems then," said Keil, who was due May 23.
Copies of Keil's medical screening indicate she answered 'yes,' to one question on the 53-question form: "Are you pregnant, or have you delivered recently?" Under the comment section of the jail document, it notes, "(Keil) is pregnant and has 12 days to go."
Contractions began about 5 a.m., Keil said.
"I was screaming I needed help, and I even pounded on the door a few times, but nobody came," she said. "Around 7 a.m., a guard came in and asked me if I wanted breakfast. I was crying and holding my stomach and said that I needed a nurse, but he only said, 'Do you want breakfast or not?'
"And that's when it hit me -- I'm going to have this baby on my own."
She said she delivered her son while sitting on the cell's metal toilet, and she estimates it took about 10 minutes for guards to discover the birth.
"They were shocked," she said. "But then I heard somebody saying that they had checked on me every 15 minutes, and that they heard cries, but that they thought it was from the inmate down the way on suicide watch."

'No indication'
Dubuque County Jail Administrator Greg Egan said incident reports show that Keil never told guards she was giving birth.
"There was nothing verbally -- no indication that there was any kind of issue," he said.
Jail policy requires guards to perform a visual check on inmates hourly, but none of these checks resulted in guards discovering Keil in labor.
But the reports do show that Keil asked for a nurse when a guard offered her breakfast around 7 a.m.
"The Reporting Deputy did hear (the) Deputy ... ask inmate Keil if she wanted breakfast and also heard him tell her that the Nurse would be in any minute," states the jail's Inmate Shift Log.
Ten minutes later, staff heard screams coming from the jail's C-Block. Deputies at first responded to the wrong cell.
" ... Not knowing exactly where the screams were coming from, we first checked West Drunk Holding cell where there was a female inmate being housed who was being observed for Suicide precaution," the log states.
The deputies proceeded to East Holding, opened the door and one of the deputies yelled, "She's having a baby," according to the log.
They then called for the nurse.
"(The deputies) did stay with inmate Keil who was standing in East Holding with her newborn baby in her hands," the log sheet states. "Inmate Keil's lower body and arms as well as her hands were covered in what appeared to be blood.
"The toilet and sink area as well as other areas in the cell were also covered in what appeared to be blood. Inmate Keil was visibly shaking and the newborn baby's umbilical cord was still in(tact)."
Hospital records say the baby was born at 7:12 a.m. Shortly after, the nurse arrived and told Keil to lay down on the bunk while the nurse tended to the baby, states the jail document.
The wails of the infant filled the concrete detention center as mother and jailers waited for the ambulance to arrive.
"I can't remember in the more than 20 years I've been with the department anything of this nature taking place," Egan said. "It's a very rare occurrence."
About 100 Iowa prisoners give birth while serving time every year, according to the Iowa Department of Corrections. Policy says they should be transported to hospitals. Egan said there was no time to transport Keil because jail staff did not know about the labor until after the birth.
Keil was transported to The Finley Hospital, where she remained until Thursday afternoon, when she was taken to Elm Street Correctional Facility in Dubuque.
"We saw to it that medical attention was rendered immediately when we became aware of the situation," Egan said.
The jail administrator said protocol was followed.
"If we have a special circumstance, like a suicide watch, we check every 15 minutes," he said. "But they checked and saw that it wasn't that person."
Another log entry states jailers asked why Keil didn't say anything before she gave birth.
"Inmate stated she had been having cramps, but they were similar to the cramps she had previous had prior to coming to jail and earlier in her pregnancy," the document states. "Inmate felt that she would be fine until she saw the nurse."
Keil disputes the jail's account, asserting guards only walked by her cell and never came in to check on her or ask how she was doing.

'What if?'
Late Thursday morning, Keil clutched the newborn to her chest.
"Momma loves you," she whispered into his ear. "Momma is going to get you back real soon, OK?"
She caressed the baby boy's sand-colored hair and commented that his eyes were blue, when they were open. The 6-pound, 4-ounce baby wore a blue jumper covered with puppy dogs, and his mother smoothed the fabric's wrinkles.
Then anger bubbled up.
"This whole thing is ridiculous," she said. "What if they hadn't come in when they did? I could have bled to death, or he could have stopped breathing. He could have been taken away from me."
The baby, named Colton John, was taken from Keil all the same, at least temporarily. The Department of Human Services has placed Colton into foster care.
After a few moments alone with her son, Keil was transported to the Elm Street facility, where she expects to serve three months. She said those months will be agonizing without her child, but she has faced worse.
"After all, I had a baby by myself while in jail," she said. "That doesn't happen every day."