"I gave birth in a taxi."
When Maya Polton was awakened by contractions around 12:30 one morning last March, the soon-to-be first-time mom recalled what she'd been told in childbirth class: Don't show up at the hospital too early because you'll be sent home. So the senior marketing manager from Brooklyn, New York, went back to sleep. Finally, at 5:30, she nudged her husband, Eric. Since the pain wasn't awful, they waited another two hours. Then her contractions intensified. Maya's water broke as Eric was on the phone with the ob-gyn. "Come to the hospital now," the doctor said.
Thinking a shower would slow down her labor, Maya stepped into the tub. "Then I reached down and felt the crown of my baby's head between my legs," she says. Eric phoned for a taxi, which arrived within minutes. The fastest route to St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital, in Manhattan, was to take the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, which goes under the East River. But it didn't turn out to be fast enough. "By 8:30 a.m., I was in the back of the cab trying not to push, and Eric was on the phone asking the doctor if there was any way to slow down labor," Maya says. Then they lost cell service. With Maya crouching on the backseat, Eric calmly took over, delivering the baby in the still-moving vehicle. "It's a boy," he said.
After they exited the tunnel, Eric spotted an FDNY truck and asked the driver for directions to the hospital. He was instructed to pull over and wait. When firemen appeared on the scene minutes later, they gave Maya oxygen and wrapped the baby up. EMTs then arrived, cutting the cord and taking the couple to the hospital.
It wasn't exactly how Maya had planned her child's birth, though as she points out, "I did want Eric to catch the baby and announce his sex all along." The only complication was determining whether their baby boy (whom the couple named Jacob) had been born in Brooklyn or Manhattan. "We were in the middle of the tunnel when it happened," Maya says. "Jacob's birth certificate says 'New York Downtown Hospital,' but on the correction form, I put down 'Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel.'"
Originally published in the September 2011 issue of Parents magazine.