Push-hour traffic 'She said we better pull over because the head has come out' - Mum gives birth on way to local hospital
‘You’ll never experience anything like it ... it’s really such a gift’
The “squeamish” dad who delivered his partner’s baby in their car on the hard shoulder of a dual carriageway said he knew he had no choice but to take action when the baby’s head began to emerge.
Owen Houlihan and Breda Devitt said they’ve had a whirlwind week of media interviews and calls from well-wishers after baby Saoirse’s dramatic birth last Sunday.
Owen and Breda knew they had no choice but to take action when the baby’s head began to emerge as they rushed to South Tipperary General Hospital in Clonmel last Sunday morning.
The couple, from Borrisoleigh, Co Tipperary, had nearly completed the hour-long journey from their home but ran out of time close to the hospital.
Owen said: “She was roaring in the car and I was trying to say nothing – I won’t repeat what she was calling me – then she said ‘we better pull up because the head has come out’ and it was pure adrenaline then.
“I got her by the shoulders and pulled her out. It was all a bit of a blur because it happened so quick. I’d say it was about 10 minutes.
Owen said: “She went into labour about 5am and it takes about an hour to get to Clonmel from Borrisoleigh.”
Breda said she thought she had time and delayed leaving for the hospital until twenty to seven.
“It was actually me thinking, ‘No I’ll be fine, I went through this before’. It was about 6.40am and I thought I better go. Then when I was in the car I knew I wasn’t going to make it to hospital. I knew it wasn’t going to happen.
“I turned from Breda to demon and he got called a good few names I can’t repeat.
“I couldn’t even grab him because he was driving. When you’re in a
maternity ward it’s a lot more relaxed and you have pain relief.
“I could have grabbed his hand and broke his fingers but I couldn’t because he was driving.”
Breda said she was surprised by how calmly Owen handled the situation.
“When my waters broke that’s when panic started to kick in. He was so calm for a fella – I don’t know if I would have been able to be that calm.
“I thought he was going to faint or something but he didn’t.
“I thought ‘I’m going to give birth and then I’ll be picking him up off the ground’.
“He was so calm and I think it just kicked in what was supposed to happen. He put her up to my chest and I cleared her airwaves and she cried and I was so happy then.”
Owen said he was surprised himself by how calm he was and said he’s normally squeamish.
“It was just adrenaline. I can’t even explain it. I’m scared of needles and dentists and things like that but the adrenaline just kicks in. I was very surprised myself that I did it.
“I have three kids and anytime I went into the labour ward before I’d always be up the top and not looking.”
Owen then drove Breda the final 10km to the hospital and staff were shocked to see he had already delivered the baby, who was still connected to her mother by the umbilical cord.
Breda said: “When we pulled up to A&E and got out we spoke to the porter who said we’ll bring her up – but he (Owen) had to explain no, she’s had the baby.
“The porter told me afterwards: ‘Your husband aged me by about 20 years when he said that. I didn’t know what to expect, then I seen this small baby in your hands.’”
Owen added: “When we went into the hospital there was a nurse who said to my partner how far are we dilated? Then she looked over and seen the baby in the basket and said ‘oh sorry’.
“Even the security guys couldn’t believe it when we arrived in with the baby. They were just saying ‘oh my god’. I was walking around like a bit of a hero.
“It’s a gift. You‘ll never experience anything like it – and it’s my first daughter as well.
“I’ve done a lot of things in life and that’s the best experience I’ve ever had in life.”
He added: “Hats off to any midwife because I don’t think I’d do it again in a hurry.”
Because of her eagerness for freedom the couple called the baby Saoirse. “She got free, so we called her Saoirse.
“We collected the baby on Tuesday and she’s home now and in great form. She’s perfect. She’s home, she gorgeous.”
Owen said he is going to keep the car that Saoirse was born in.
“I’m going to keep the car anyway. I’m driving a Toyota Avensis. I would have been rightly snookered if I was driving a Mini or something like that.”
The couple said they wanted to thank the midwives at the hospital who were great to them when they arrived – in particular a midwife called Noreen.
Breda said she was kept in for 48 hours and both she and Saoirse got to go home on Tuesday and are doing great.