HONESDALE — Each new baby is born into this world with his or her unique story.

The narrative of a child’s birth takes shape as soon someone, often the father, makes that first call to loved ones announcing that the long-anticipated event has occurred and a new member has claimed a spot on the family tree.

In the days that follow, the tale is told and retold by the proud parents, by grandparents, and by friends and relatives who shape and polish the story until it reaches its final form.

In years to come, the birth story takes its place in the thread of family history: lovingly revisited in times of joy, whispered comfortingly in times of sorrow, repeated to reassure expectant mothers, used to soothe sleepy grandchildren when the baby in the story is a gray-haired elder recalling an event decades in the past.

All birth stories form the stuff of family legend, but some babies enter the world in a manner dramatic enough to capture the attention of the wider community. Such is the tale of little Colton Theodore Hayes.

Colton is the son of Heather and Rich Hayes of Pleasant Mount. He has two older brothers: Ethan, age 4, and Wyatt, age 2. His maternal grandparents are Linda Jubinsky and the late Peter T. Jubinsky of Pleasant Mount, and his paternal grandparents are Rose and Rich Hayes of Simpson.

The story of Colton’s entrance into this world is best told by his mom, Heather.

It began on February 28, the day before he was born.

“At 10 p.m. on Sunday evening, I began having contractions every few minutes. We were hesitant to head to the hospital as I had recently had several uneventful bouts of contractions that had subsided with rest, and a doctor's appointment early that week had shown no indication that the baby would arrive anytime soon.

“When the contractions intensified I made the decision to call my doctor and see if we should head to the hospital. While on the phone with my doctor, my water broke (at approximately 1 a.m.), and we got ready to leave for the hospital,” said Heather, who was told that the baby’s due date was not for another five days.

Heather continued, “Of course, we needed to find someone to watch our other two children, so we had to wait a few minutes for my mother to arrive.

“In the meantime, we decided to take a photo of my pregnant belly as we had at the conclusion of our other two pregnancies.

“Looking at the time stamp on the photo later on, the photo was taken a mere 16 minutes prior to birth of our child.”

A mere 16 minutes, and the anxious parents are still at home waiting for Grandma Linda, who lives just down the road from their house, to arrive.

“Once my mother arrived, I made my way to the car and realized that the labor was progressing rather quickly.

“In the car, I focused on my breathing and the clock; the contractions were now coming every two minutes.

“I imagined arriving at the hospital and having the baby in the parking lot or while being wheeled to labor and delivery.

“However, I suddenly realized that I could feel the baby's head. I told Rich to‘Pull the car over, I think I'm having this baby now!’” Heather explained.

Rich had calculated the best route from their house in Pleasant Mount to their hospital of choice, Wayne Memorial Hospital in Honesdale.

He determined that due to the speed limits, the quality and curviness of the roads, and the possibility of encountering a deer or getting stuck behind a slow moving vehicle, the most expedient course was to travel over to Route 6 and come into Honesdale from the west.

The couple had made it as far as Seaman’s Marine when Heather issued her directive to stop the car.

“He pulled over into the bottom of some random person's driveway, and ran to the passenger side of the car. ‘Let me see,’ he said, and then confirmed, ‘I can see the head! What do we do?’ I looked over at him and simply said, ‘You catch.’

“The whole ordeal couldn't have lasted more than two minutes, and with maybe three pushes our third child was born with a cry,” Heather recalled.

“I was not afraid, or panicked. In the moment, it didn't even occur to me that anything could go wrong. I just knew that the baby was coming and did what came naturally. ‘It's a boy,’ Rich announced, because we hadn't found out the gender of the baby beforehand, and placed him on my stomach,” Heather continued.

Rich’s Toyota Rav4 had become an impromptu delivery room, and Rich’s steady hands were the ones that guided his son into the cold February night.

Colton took his first breath and let out his first cry at 1:33 a.m. on February 29.

His unconventional arrival on Leap Day, in the family car, in the dead of night, along a deserted highway, and with only his brave mother and quick-thinking father there to greet him, have surely elevated Colton Hayes’ birth story to epic proportions.

Even the doctors and nurses at Wayne Memorial Hospital will remember Colton’s birth, not for what they did, but precisely because of what they did not have the opportunity to do.

“We wrapped him in a towel that we had placed in the car due to my water breaking. Rich then jumped back in the car and drove to hospital, which was only about a mile away.

“He called the hospital on the way, to let them know what had transpired, completely calm.

“ The nurses joked with him later that they couldn't believe how calm he was after what had just happened,” Heather related happily.

She continued, “When we got to the hospital, they met us with a gurney in front of the ER. One of the nurses held me, and I held the baby as I walked the couple of steps to the gurney, and then they wheeled me up to labor and delivery.

“Upstairs, they checked the baby over and he was perfectly healthy.”

Rich added, “Heather’s obstetrician, Dr. Thomas O’Brien of Women’s Health Group of Honesdale, who also delivered our last son, Wyatt, two years ago, called me ‘a legend’ since I delivered my own son, but his job is surely safe and I’ll stick to hobbies such as Penn State football and cycling.”

Rich is happy to report that his wife and brand new son are both in perfectly good health despite the unconventional circumstances of Colton’s birth.

Heather and Colton were able to leave the hospital in two days and are enjoying some well-deserved quiet at home, or as quiet as it can reasonably be with two-year-old Wyatt and four-year-old Ethan filling the house with the joyful noise of happy children.

Rich, who each year raises money for Griffin Pond Animal Shelter with his Pedaling4Paws bike ride, is already planning for the future, when three sons will join Heather in greeting him at the ride’s finish line.

He couldn’t resist adding a plug for the event as the interview concluded.

“Not only am I good at Pedaling4Paws, but I’m also pretty good at delivering babies,” he joked.

Perhaps this year’s route will take Rich past the hospital where little Colton was almost born, and past the “random person’s driveway” where his Leap Year baby first opened his eyes to gaze with wonder upon the world?