Leighton Schmidt was in a hurry.
So much, in fact, that her mother, Julie, delivered Leighton herself in the parking lot of Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital in Amherst, as her father, Michael, drove frantically looking for the emergency room entrance.
The quick labor was unexpected. Two years earlier, Julie, a physician’s assistant at UB/MD, gave birth to their first daughter, Sydney, after 36 hours of labor
. The couple had little reason to think this would be any different, said Michael, a risk manager at HSBC Bank.
Were they in for a surprise. Here’s what happened:
Julie woke up at about 3 a. m. with contractions.
Michael called his father-in-law, who lives in Newfane, to come over and watch Sydney so they could drive to Sisters Hospital, 16 miles away.
With Julie wearing sweat pants and a T-shirt, the couple headed down North French Road toward the Lockport Expressway. At that point, she blurted out, “The pain is too intense; we can’t make it to Sisters.”
So Michael turned their 2004 Lexus left onto Hopkins Road and headed for Fillmore Suburban Hospital, five miles from their house.
Michael, however, harbored doubts that there was a real urgency
, remembering the long labor for Sydney.
“Julie said, ‘I have to push.’ I said, ‘No, don’t push.’
She’s yelling and shouting, and I say yelling and shouting isn’t going to make this any better
,” Michael said.
“I assumed she was being melodramatic and having a panic attack
At this point, Julie said, she was losing feeling from the waist down and in her hands, although it only lasted a short while.
“He was stopping at red lights, and I was saying, ‘Don’t stop, don’t stop.’ He said it wasn’t worth a ticket
,” she said.
Michael also was making calls on the cell phone
, alerting family members about the switch in hospitals.
Then, as they turned onto Maple Road, Julie’s water broke and the baby’s head emerged.
“I’m screaming, ‘Oh, my God, the head, the head,’ ” Julie said.
As the Schmidts turned onto the hospital driveway and entered the parking lot, blue-eyed Leighton entered the world at about 4:40 a. m., weighing 6 pounds, 9 ounces.
The baby came out on onto the seat of the car. “I screamed, ‘It’s a girl, and she’s not crying,’ ” Julie said, picking her up and clutching her to her body to warm up.
“All I’m thinking is, my wife is dying, and my child is stillborn,” Michael said.
Instead of stopping the car, or even allowing himself to look directly at the birth taking place, Michael focused with “tunnel vision” on finding the emergency room entrance
. He drove to one that read “Authorized Personnel Only” before looping around to find the right entrance.
He beeped the horn and ran out of the car, returning moments later with a nurse and security guard. Julie and little Leighton were wheeled into the emergency room, and in a matter of minutes, the doctor in charge pronounced both in excellent health.
He let Michael cut the umbilical cord.
Within 20 minutes, the baby was nursing with a contented and much calmer mother.
“My wife and I are such planners. We plan everything to the nth degree. Nothing is left to chance in our world,” Michael said.
“This type of situation is so not us.”