JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – When she gets older, a Jacksonville couple will have quite the story to share with their newborn daughter. That’s because she was born nearly a month early in a car on the way to the hospital.
Laramie Cundiff and her partner, Brandon Meredith, knew they were expecting, so it wasn’t a surprise when she thought she was going into labor last week. But it turns out she was having what are called Braxton Hicks contractions, which can mimic the feeling of going into labor.
So when Cundiff began experiencing the same sensations again early Sunday morning, the couple initially brushed them off. After all, they figured it was likely just another round of Braxton Hicks contractions kicking in, right? Wrong. This time, the baby couldn’t wait.
“By the time we got in the car, I knew it was time. I could feel that pressure, but dad still thought it was Braxton Hicks,” Cundiff told News4Jax.
After piling into the car, the couple hopped on Interstate 95 and headed for Wolfson Children’s Hospital. But it didn’t matter what route they took or how fast they went. By the time they got off the exit ramp, Nova Lynn Meredith was waiting.
She was born at 7:20 a.m. May 5 near San Marco Boulevard and Gary Street – about 25 days early and roughly a stone’s throw from the hospital they were racing toward. She weighed 4.2 pounds and measured 16.5 inches tall.
But none of that truly sunk in for Meredith until Cundiff lifted the baby out of her pajama pants.
“His eyes got huge and he said, ‘What do I do?!’ And I told him to keep driving. We didn’t stop until we hit Wolfson’s emergency room doors,” Cundiff recalled.
For now, Nova is staying in the NICU at Wolfson until she's healthy enough to be released.
Even though he didn’t deliver the baby, it was a surreal experience for Meredith, too. He said he just sat there and watched as Cundiff’s maternal instincts kicked in.
“She grabbed the baby, she flipped the baby over, immediately started clearing out her mouth, getting her to breathe,” Meredith said. “And these weren’t things we were going to think about or planned to do.”
“She just did it,” he added.
The whole episode unfolded in less than an hour. But if they go could back and change how it happened, the couple said they wouldn’t do anything differently.
“I think it was the most perfect way for it to happen,” Cundiff said. “I really do.”