Woman walks postal route through nine months of pregnancy
It's said that neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night will stay postal carriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.
Nor will pregnancy, at least for one Mitchell carrier.
Shawn Patton carried her unborn child and her mail bag 10-12 miles a day for all nine months of her pregnancy, right up until the day before she went into labor. At 1:31 a.m. Saturday, June 14, Gwenivere Rose Patton was born.
"I was a little nervous that my water would break while I was on my route," said the 28-year-old Patton. "But that never happened."
Patton said if her water broke while on her route, she figured she would have time to return to the post office and drive herself to the hospital.
She began delivering mail two years ago in Watertown and has now been delivering the mail on the west side of North Sanborn Boulevard, West Third Avenue and West Eighth Avenue in Mitchell for a year. Patton's pregnancy included the winter and spring, and conditions were not always ideal.
"The snow and ice are such a challenge because you don't want to fall, even when you aren't pregnant," Patton said. "It was hard in the winter because people don't always shovel their sidewalks."
Patton would rather carry mail during the winter because she can always dress in layers to avoid the cold, while the heat is not so easy to escape. Some of the customers on her route asked her to come in and warm up on cold days and offered a glass of water on hot days.
"It was harder going along, just because you get tired as the week goes," Patton said. "Your energy levels just aren't up there as they normally would be."
Patton is not the first to go through a pregnancy while working for the U.S. Postal Service in Mitchell. At least one of the six other women who deliver mail in the city has endured a pregnancy while delivering. That co-worker gave Patton some advice: "Move your seat back in the mail truck as you get larger."
Before moving back to Mitchell to be near family, Patton met her husband, Tyson, while she was a medic in the South Dakota National Guard and he was a medic for the Army in San Antonio, Texas.
They have been married for eight years and have two children, 7-year-old Sophia and 6-year-old Hunter.
"They're excited to be big brother and sister," Patton said. "They've been helpful, so far. I'm sure the novelty will wear off like a puppy."
Due to military deployment and nursing school, Tyson missed the birth of his first two children. Gwenivere was the first childbirth at which Tyson was present.
This third pregnancy was better than the first two, Patton said, because she stayed in better shape while walking her route.
Going back to work will be tough. Patton was a stay-at-home-mom when her other two children were born.
But she will return to delivering the mail in about two months.
"I am excited to go back because I do like my job," Patton said.