Pregnant with her fourth baby, Sarah knew what to expect when she woke to her water breaking. Her other labours had lasted for up to 22 hours, so she had plenty of time. Or so she thought.
The NSW mum ended up delivering her own baby, in her car, as her partner made a dash on foot for help. But her baby couldn’t draw his first breath, and it was up to Sarah to help her little boy.
‘Today’s the day’
Over their 14 years together, Sarah and Shane had welcomed three beautiful children, Blake 13, Tahlia 11, and Sophia, one. And they were excitedly awaiting the arrival of their fourth little bundle of joy. Smack bang on her due date, Sarah woke to sharp pains low in her stomach.
“I lay in bed for a few more minutes then felt another sharp pain,” Sarah told Mum’s Grapevine. “I then stood up out of bed and felt my waters break. I made my way to the bathroom as my waters were running down my legs, calling out to Shane, ‘Get up, today’s the day’. Shane followed me to the bathroom and I told him to wake the older kids up and tell them bub is on its way.
“I had a shower and the contractions started – they seemed to be about three to four minutes apart. Shane came in to check on me and asked, ‘Should they be coming this quick so soon?’
“I got out of the shower and got dressed between contractions. At 8am Shane started calling our parents to ask who could get here the quickest to watch our three children. I walked around our lounge room leaning over the lounge with each contraction, I started worrying that these contractions were only a few minutes apart already, surely it couldn’t be happening this quick? I could see Shane starting to get worried too, I decided to call the midwives at Maitland Hospital and told them labour had started and we would be coming in soon.”
A nervous drive
While on the phone, Sarah worked her way through three contractions, prompting the midwives to tell her to head straight to hospital. But she needed to wait for her mum to arrive, and by the time she walked through the door 40 minutes later Sarah’s contractions were just one minute apart.
“I couldn’t even speak to her, I just started making my way outside, I got out the front door and held onto the wall as I had a contraction which made me feel like I needed to push, it passed and I remember looking at our car which seemed so far away. I knew I just had to make it into the car and then we will be at the hospital in five to ten minutes and we will be okay.
“As I climbed into Shane’s Toyota Landcruiser I had another contraction. I said to Shane, ‘Get me to the hospital now! Hurry up!’ We got to the top of our street and I thought to myself, ‘We aren’t going to make it to the hospital’. I wanted Shane to get us to the hospital safely so I didn’t want to panic him. One minute from home we got a red light, I’m saying, ‘No, no, no!” I knew we didn’t have much time.
“We continued on our way, by now the contractions were very constant, we got one minute from the hospital and I began taking my pants and underwear off. Shane says to me, ‘What are you doing?’ I said ‘I think the baby’s coming now.’ Shane said, ‘Don’t push, don’t push, we’re almost there.’ I wasn’t pushing but I could feel a lot of pressure and I knew this baby was only minutes away.
“Shane stopped the car at the hospital’s drop-off zone, and I instructed him to get help. I knew I couldn’t get out of the car without help and I didn’t think I could walk in either. I watched him run towards the front doors of the hospital as I had the urge to push. I tried to lean back a bit and I put one foot on the dashboard and the other foot on the door. I reached down as I pushed and felt my baby’s head and face, with the next contraction I pushed the rest of my baby out.
“I tried to pull my baby up but realised the cord was wrapped around his neck. I then felt terrified but knew I had to get it off. I put my fingers under the cord and attempted to left it over his head but it was too tight, I managed to use one hand to pull more cord out then I was able to lift it off his neck which he then screamed to my relief.
“I saw Shane and a nurse coming back to the car. They opened the car door to me sitting on the front seat cuddling our new baby and the look on Shane’s face was priceless. The nurse calmly said ‘Congratulations’. I then realised, ‘Oh my goodness I just delivered my own baby’. Shane then announces, ‘It’s a boy’. I hadn’t even looked in all the excitement and shock.”
The car park baby
It wasn’t long before the shock set in for Sarah, who began shaking uncontrollably. She was ushered into hospital in a wheelchair, her body quivering.
“As they wheeled me into the hospital I felt so proud of myself and we did catch the attention of quite a few people as we were wheeled through the hospital. They took us to a consult room to wait until they had a birthing suite ready, Shane cut the cord and took a photo of our new baby to send to our family, who were all shocked he had arrived already.
“Once there was a birthing suite ready, I delivered the placenta and they checked us both over. Callum weighed in at 9 pounds 13. That afternoon Callum met his excited siblings, and his grandparents and uncle. We spent the night in hospital due to Callum needing his sugars checked every three hours due to his weight.
“The midwives and nurses were calling him The Car Park Baby. We went home on Christmas Eve just in time to spend a beautiful Christmas as a family of six.”
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More birth stories from the Grapeviner community…
- Birth Story: ‘I battled chronic migraines, GD and had an emergency c-section’
- Birth Story: ‘A home water birth helped heal me’
- Birth Story: ‘I was diagnosed with preeclampsia at 20 weeks’
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