When her water broke just before 7:30 a.m. Friday, Megan Martinez knew she needed to get to the hospital — fast.
"My contractions were only about a minute and a half apart, which is really close," she said.
Martinez said she tried to rush her husband, Chad, and their 21-month-old daughter, Ava, out the door, but bundling up a toddler is tricky business, and the family had a long ride from their Oswego home to the maternity ward of Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove.
"When we finally got in the car and got going and got to (Interstate) 88, the contractions were getting closer and closer," Martinez said Monday. "By Naperville Road I told my husband there was a foot hanging out, and he didn't believe me."
After all, the baby wasn't due until Jan. 13.
But just past Finley Road, only two miles from the hospital, husband Chad — an Illinois State Trooper — started to believe.
"He pulled over. She was literally falling out," Martinez said.
"She" is little Maci Martinez, 7 pounds, 2 ounces. Maci and mom are doing well, despite the harrowing delivery in the back seat of the family's Nissan Murano.
"I'm not sure he knew exactly what to do, but he's a State Trooper, so he had first responder training," Martinez said of her husband, who delivered little Maci just moments after pulling over.
"As soon as he got to the back seat, it was a tiny little push. Natural instinct just took over."
Lucky it did. The Martinez family was already expecting a difficult birth — an ultrasound earlier in the week had shown Maci in breech position, and doctors had told the couple to expect an emergency Caesarean section.
"Have I seen car deliveries before? Yes," said Christine Murphy, the attending nurse at Good Samaritan. "Have I seen breech car deliveries before? That's the first one."
She said that it's not unusual for parents to be late to the hospital. Murphy, who has been a nurse since 1993 and worked as a maternity technician before that, sees it happen maybe once a month on average.
"When they're coming, they're coming," she said of a baby about to be born.
When Maci came, not only was she feet first, Martinez said the umbilical cord was wrapped twice around her tiny neck.
"We didn't have anything with us to get the amniotic fluid out of her mouth, so he had to improvise. She was purple. He gently patted her back, and in maybe 20 seconds she started to cry," Martinez said.
"I just said, ‘Oh my God, she's crying, she's crying.'"
Fellow State Troopers arrived to shield the car from traffic and walk Chad through the last few steps, like clamping the umbilical cord.
"The dad was cute," said Murphy. "He said, ‘I've seen it on the film before, but I never expected to have to do it.'"
Big sister Ava sat next to mom in the back seat of the Nissan throughout the entire ordeal.
"She looked completely unfazed," Martinez said.
Just after the birth, mother and baby made the rest of the journey, by ambulance, to the hospital. Maci, Murphy said, was a little cold from the chilly morning air, but otherwise in perfect health.
They were released in excellent health Sunday, and planned to spend a quiet New Year's Eve at home.