When Sara Johnston realised she was going to be giving birth to her second baby in the middle of a pandemic, she thought her biggest problem would be getting someone to look after her older daughter when she was in labour.
With her mum over an hour’s drive away and her husband’s mum working in a hospital, she and her husband Chris, 33, were concerned about who would stay with Erin, two, when the time came.
They made plans for her mum to isolate and for her to drive straight over, as soon as they needed to go into hospital.
Sara, 32, went into labour at 38 weeks and four days and despite the difficult logistics, her mum made it as planned.
They ended up being grateful for the lockdown as halfway to the hospital, Sara realised they weren’t going to make it and her husband had to pull over on the side of a usually busy main road.
But because everyone is staying at home, barely anyone went past in the minutes she sat with her legs out of the car, while her husband delivered their second baby.
Sara, from Maralin, Co Armagh, Northern Ireland, said: ‘It would normally be chock-a-block on that road at that time so we were lucky. I think in that time, maybe about three people walked past but they all had headphones in or were exercising so they didn’t bat an eyelid.’
Sara’s contractions started at 11pm on 13 April but said as there was no consistent pattern, she didn’t think it was time to go to the hospital yet.
At 3am, the contractions got stronger but after phoning the hospital, they told her that they’d keep her at home for a few hours as it didn’t sound like anything was happening.
By 6 am, Sara’s contractions were following a pattern and getting more intense so midwives advised her to phone her mum and get over to the hospital.
As her mum arrived at 7.15 am, Sara’s waters broke and she knew the baby was coming soon.
Sara and Chris set off from their home in Maralin to Craigavon Area hospital, about 20 minutes drive away.
She said: ‘I phoned the hospital and they were talking about putting me through admissions and stuff and I had to say “no this baby is coming”. We set off with a towel on the seat for my water to get there as soon as possible.’
But just five minutes into the journey, Sara told Chris he needed to pull over.
‘My body was telling me to push. He stopped the car and got out and ran round to the passenger seat,’ she says.
‘He called 999 and they were helping to guide him through what to do.
‘They were trying to keep us both calm. My legs were out the door of the car. There’s no secrets between us any more.
‘The head came out quite quickly but her shoulders got stuck and he had to pull her so there was some intense pushing.’
After 20 minutes by the unusually quiet roadside, baby Quinn was born at 7.40am, weighing 8lb 2.50z.
Sara adds: ‘Chris got her, put her up on my stomach and it was such a relief. She cried and seemed fine.
‘The call operator talked him through how to tie off the umbilical cord with his shoe laces. There is some controversy over doing that but he was just listening to what he was being told.’
Seven minutes after she arrived, the paramedics found them and checked over mum and baby before taking them to hospital, while Chris followed behind.
After making sure everyone was ok, Sara, Quinn and Chris were able to go home to let Erin meet her baby sister at 4pm that same afternoon.
Sara says: ‘They’d told us before that Chris could be there for the delivery but would have to leave after she was born but because of everything that happened, he was able to stay with us in the hospital.
‘Everything was fine, she was feeding well and as it was my second baby, they let us go home. Since then, we’ve been doing great and she’s put on loads of weight.
‘We’ll still in shock though. We can’t believe she is here, never mind how she arrived.’