Amy Tetreault gave birth to her fourth child on the side of the highway, and compared with her three earlier birth experiences, she says this time around was “peaceful.”
The Georgia resident’s water broke in the passenger seat of her car in Jacksonville, Fla., on Oct. 21 and her husband, U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Paul Tetreault, helped delivered the baby roadside.
Amy says the delivery happened just one day before her due date, and she had been enjoying the day with her daughter. “I went to get pedicures with my 3-year-old daughter at about 11 a.m., and that’s when contractions started,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle. She called her midwife, who wasn’t worried. “She told me that at this rate — every 10 minutes or so — people can do that for days … so I figured, ‘OK, if I’m doing this for days, I’m going to enjoy today as I please and not worry about it!”
After pedicures, they went to lunch and the beach. At around 2 p.m., the contractions started to pick up, “and at that point, I was convinced it wasn’t just Braxton Hicks.” So they headed back home. Amy got in the bathtub, hoping the water would help with the pain. Now her contractions were about five minutes apart. Her midwife still wasn’t concerned but told Amy she would meet her at the birthing center, where the couple was planning a natural water birth in the center’s “glorious jetted tub,” if that made her feel at ease.
She and Paul started the 30-minute trip to their hospital, leaving their other children with a neighbor.
On their way to the UF Health Birth Center in Jacksonville, 30 minutes from where they live, they realized they were low on gas, so Paul made a pit stop. Just like their gas, their luck was running out. “Of course there’s no gas pump open,” Amy told local Jacksonville news station WJAX-TV. “He’s like doing laps around and around, and I’m like ‘Can you hurry it up?’ And all of I sudden I felt a pop — my water just broke.”
Still in need of gas, Paul quickly filled the car with $7 worth of fuel and hit the road. “I was practically falling asleep in between contractions on the way to the birthing center … no way did I think I was about to give birth,” Amy tells Yahoo Lifestyle. That didn’t last long; they made it all the way across the state line into Jacksonville, 10 minutes away from the hospital, when Amy realized her baby couldn’t wait. Paul pulled over.
Somehow neither of them wa worried. “I was not nervous or scared in the car and neither was my husband,” Amy recalls. “I had read a bunch of natural birthing books during this pregnancy,” so she was prepared. Paul was “great,” she gushes. “He didn’t bat an eyelash at the situation or pass out or puke or any other weird things men do … but he’s a submariner, he’s trained well in handling unexpected experiences.”
He’s no midwife, but he might be the next best thing. “I pulled over, jumped out, ran over and opened the door,” Paul told WJAX-TV. It was a quick delivery. “It was maybe three seconds later the whole baby comes out — just like the three other births, arms flopping.” He caught the baby and put him on Amy’s chest. The infant started crying immediately.
She and Paul were stunned by what just happened.
“We were both laughing and smiling immediately after he was born,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
Healthy baby in hand, literally, they still had to get to the hospital. After the baby was born, “my husband continued driving to the birthing center,” Amy says.
Amy then snapped a selfie with her newborn. She posted it on Facebook later that day. Paul is in the background. “My hands and arms were still cover in ‘stuff’ lol,” he commented.
Birth without fear 🤗💋 #OffRampEdition #FreshOut #Unassisted #FreeBirth #Natural #CarBaby #GirlPower #Bliss #HighOnLife
Posted by Amy Tetreault on Sunday, October 21, 2018
Baby boy Austin William Tetreault was 7 pounds 13 ounces when he rode into the world.
“When we got there, the midwives checked Austin out, weighed him and everything. He was perfect,” Amy says. She took a bath in the jetted tub while Paul bonded with the baby. “We were back home eating pizza with all of our children by 8 p.m. that night … just four hours after he was born,” she recalls.
Believe it or not, they were both overjoyed with the way it happened. “This birth was so much more peaceful than my other three births that were in hospitals,” Amy says. She had epidurals for her previous children.
“In the hospital, you are in a room full of people putting you on a time clock and coaching you when to push under bright lights,” she says. “It’s very far from a calming or peaceful environment.”
Somehow this happy accident was more relaxing. “For this baby, everything was done on our terms. It was a magical experience,” Amy gushes. “And not once did I think ‘I can’t do this.'”
The aftermath was more bearable too. “My recovery was far better and easier after this natural birth versus my hospital births with all the usual interventions,” she says.
“It was nice the way — I mean a little crazy — but nice the way we had the baby. Because it was on her terms, the baby’s own terms, and we just did what had to be done,” Paul told WJAX-TV.
While the couple don’t plan to have any more children, if Amy could do it all over again, she’d “do it this way a million times … although not in a car if I could avoid it.”
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