COVINGTON, Ga. — It was 4:30 a.m. on March 13 and Mandie Cushing felt her water break.
But she also had four children at home who needed to get to school.
“That was chaotic, trying to get four kids ready for school with my water broke,” she recalled.
However, she said “the kids were great with it” and worked to help get themselves off to school before going to an aunt’s house as the mom-to-be and husband Micah drove to the hospital.
Micah Cushing, a Covington city firefighter since 2014, coached her all along the way to the hospital in Rockdale County as they prepared to welcome son Micah Lawson, Mandie said.
The reason for traveling from their east Newton County home to a hospital in Conyers rather than Covington was simple: Mandie wanted to be as close as possible to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta if history repeated itself for the couple.
A little more than one year before, the Cushings had welcomed daughter Liza June into the world in February 2019.
They had found out beforehand their child had gastroschisis — a birth defect where the baby’s intestines are found outside of the body. She was given a 50-50 chance of surviving.
After her February birth, Liza June was transported via ambulance to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta where she stayed for two weeks.
Liza June had to be fed through a tube and needed a ventilator to breathe before she died March 1, 2019.
A line of ambulances, fire trucks and police cars escorted the couple as they drove to the gravesite in Newborn. Rockdale Fire Department covered Covington Fire’s calls so the entire department could be in attendance.
The Covington Fire Department continued to reach out after the funeral by checking in with the family. The community sent gift cards, money and small gifts.
Micah said he had heard the firefighting profession was a “brotherhood” before he got into it.
“You don’t know what it means until you live through it,” he said.
The months following their loss was tough for the Cushings, they agreed.
The couple had married after previous relationships ended for each. They each brought along two children, two girls with Mandie and two boys with Micah. Liza was their child first together.
After Liza’s death, Mandie said she “never wanted to replace her” but they eventually agreed they wanted to try again.
“I still struggle … daily with her loss,” Mandie said. “Any parent who goes through that, it’s not explainable. There’s nothing to compare it to.
“I’m so thankful for my son but my daughter will never be replaced or forgotten,” she said.
Micah said some days were difficult for the couple afterward but “it just proved how strong my wife is.”
“We were able to work through it. I’m not going to say we are 100% over Liza,” Micah said.
When they found out about their new son, a fellow firefighter organized a gender reveal party at his house. The couple was “flooded” with text messages and department officials sent out emails about the baby, Mandie said.
“They gave Micah more than enough time to be home with us. They gave us that option, because of the loss of our daughter, to soak in every detail,” she said of department officials.
Micah said he recalled the boy’s birthday March 13 being “more of a story about overcoming circumstances.”
They were able to get their four kids off to school that day before he used his emergency medical training to coach Mandie as they rode to the hospital in Conyers.
“We had a bit of a scare. I was having some pretty drastic contractions. He was coaching me through the breathing,” she said.
Honestly, the closer I was to Children’s hospital the more comfortable I was,” she said.
Their son was born healthy, weighing 7 pounds, about an hour later, Mandie said.
“He is huge. Anybody who has met him or seen him yet, he is a very large, very healthy, progressing baby boy,” she said.
Now, Micah is working both as a firefighter and a construction company owner. That allows the family the financial freedom for Mandie to stay at home with her new baby and their other children, she said.
Former staff writer Caitlin Jett contributed to this report.