Of all the ways to bring a baby into the world, giving birth while crouching by the side of a suburban Buffalo road, with strangers looking on, has got to be among the most memorable and least discreet.
However, protecting her modesty was the least of Amanda Colebeck’s concerns late Friday morning when her body yielded to the forces of an all-too-quick labor. In practically no time at all, she found herself delivering her precious bundle – 8½-pound Paige Gwendolyn – in front of a house at 583 Park Club Lane, and right on the hot pavement as motorists drove by.
“Part of me was like, ‘Wow, I’m basically naked on the side of the road in Williamsville, on a residential street and there are people passing by,’ ” Colebeck recalled of the episode as she gently held her new daughter Tuesday.
“I had about a split-second thought of having a little bit of that loss-of-dignity-feel, but because I was in the motion of labor, it went away so quickly,” she added.
The Friday morning drama had begun minutes earlier. Matthew Colebeck frantically packed his wife and her belongings into the couple’s 2007 Toyota Corolla to get Amanda to the Birthing Center of Buffalo, a 25-minute drive away from their house in Williamsville. The Birthing Center was where she had delivered their first-born, Derrick, 16 months earlier, already making them at ease with a natural birth experience.
“I have to say, when I was in labor in the car, I knew that we wouldn’t make it to the Birthing Center, but I didn’t feel fear in the sense that I wasn’t scared to have a baby outside a medical facility,” Amanda Colebeck said.
But literally giving birth on the street is another thing entirely.
As the Colebecks, both 31, traveled south on the I-290, hoping to get to North Buffalo with time to spare, they ran into a detour that forced them on to North Forest Road.
“There was a huge backup at the detour, so I ended up going into the oncoming lane, because at this point she was screaming in pain. Everything was happening way too fast,” Matthew Colebeck recalled.
“So I get back onto Sheridan and at that point she screams to me, ‘I can feel the head,’ ” Matthew Colebeck said. At that point, he pulled over onto Park Club Lane off North Forest.
“I just pulled right to the shoulder, threw the car into park and I went right back for her. She was in the rear seat of the car,” he said.
Throughout the morning, Matthew Colebeck had been in consultation by cell phone with Gina Varney, their birthing coach from the Birthing Center, who was now instructing Matthew to get his wife out of the backseat of the car, which had limited space, so she had room to go into a crouching position.
“We took her pants off and she was squatting there, in the road, basically,” Matthew Colebeck recalled. “She was on the driver’s side of the car, using her left hand on the car door and her right hand is holding onto the car.”
At that point, as he could see the baby’s head crowning, a motorist pulled up next to them and asked, “What can we do?”
“Call the ambulance,” Matthew Colebeck responded.
Shortly thereafter, Matthew Colebeck could see the baby’s entire head as its shoulders squeezed the birth canal, putting him in the rare position of helping to deliver his own daughter.
Amanda Colebeck struggled to hold back tears Tuesday as she recalled a motorist who came to their aid, offering assistance and soothing words of comfort until emergency medical technicians from Snyder Volunteer Fire Department and Twin City Ambulance arrived.
“She went into her trunk and grabbed blankets and towels. I don’t want to cry, but she just wrapped them around me and it was extremely kind,” said Amanda Colebeck, who was hopeful that she could someday find the mystery woman to thank her.
And with a serendipitous flair, the Colebecks got that chance Tuesday as the woman, Kathy Barnes, just happened to drive by 583 Park Club Lane while the couple and their newborn were there talking about the experience.
“I can’t believe I’m coming down the street and here we are again, like deja vu, and I pulled right over again,” Barnes said.
Barnes recalled that Paige was in the process of being born when she came upon mother and infant by the roadside.
“I saw a naked woman coming from down the street, standing in the road, clutching something around her waist area and I stopped. I was about to say, ‘Do you need help?’ And I realized she was pulling the baby out, and I just stopped my car and went in my truck and got some blankets and asked if they had called 911,” Barnes said.
She wrapped Amanda Colebeck and her infant in a blanket, offered the mother a bottled water and reassured her that she did great.
“Once there was a crowd of emergency people and everyone helping, I just kind of backed away,” Barnes said.
But before she left Friday, Barnes reminded Matthew Colebeck to turn off the engine to his car, which had been running all throughout Paige’s emergency roadside birth.
Amanda Colebeck, who works in the medical speciality field of maxillofacial prosthodontics, recalled other lovely moments from the otherwise hectic scene: a half dozen motorists who stopped to offer them blankets and hoodies from their vehicles, and the gentleness of an EMT from the Snyder Fire Department named Michelle, a former nurse and also the mother of six.
“Michelle was so incredibly tender and sweet and just saying such comforting words to us,” Amanda Colebeck said.
The Colebecks turned down an offer by Twin City Ambulance to transport them Friday to the nearest emergency room and instead, placed their newborn in a brand-new child safety seat and continued their drive to the Birthing Center, where they met up with their coach and Amanda’s OB-GYN, Dr. Katharine Morrison.
For all of her urgent insistence to be born, Paige has been a surprisingly mellow personality since, according to her mother.
“So far, she is the most serene, calm, relaxed baby. Maybe she just powerhoused her way into the world and is now just taking a good long snooze,” said Amanda Colebeck.
“She’s quite a little angel, so we’re so happy,” the new mother added.