My retired midwife mom delivered a baby on a ferry yesterday

By: Seattle Municipal ArchivesCC BY 2.0
The title pretty much says it all. My mom Therese, a retired midwife and midwifery educator (and yes, she's written for Offbeat Families), delivered a baby girl on the Bainbridge Island to Seattle ferry yesterday afternoon. Here's the news report from the Seattle Times:

Crews and passengers on a Bainbridge-to-Seattle ferry rushed to help a woman deliver a baby girl, Lucy, on board this afternoon.

In addition to ferry staff trained to respond to any on-board emergency, Seattle Fire spokesman Kyle Moore says a midwife, an OB/GYN nurse and two EMTs just happened to be on board to help with the woman's quick labor.

The woman was in labor when she boarded the ferry at the Bainbridge Island terminal, but it didn't become apparent she might give birth so soon until after it departed, Coursey said. Crews on the ferry rushed the woman to a second floor office on the ferry Tacoma when her contractions started coming closer together.

After a loudspeaker announcement asking if anyone with birthing experience was aboard, the midwife, nurse and EMTs arrived to help deliver the little girl. By the time the ferry docked, Moore said Seattle Fire's emergency personnel found the birth underway. Lucy was born healthy without any complications, then taken to Swedish Medical Center with her mother just after 2 p.m.

"What are the chances a midwife and OB/GYN nurse would be on board?" asked Coursey…

And here's what my mom had to say about it on Facebook:

I got to deliver a baby on the ferry today……I was on my way to Bastyr to be a guest speaker at the Professional Issues class when it happened. Everyone stepped aside and let me take over when I said I was a midwife. Then I did the midwife-thing of letting the mother continue her natural process without interruption. Little Lucy appeared shortly after the boat docked. It was a wonderful, joyous experience, certainly a THRILL! Isn't life amazing????

I'll see if I can get any more details out of my mom later. But for now: hurray for midwives in the right place at the right time!

Updated to add

Here's an interview with my mom:

After Charvet assessed the progress of the labor, she reassured the parents-to-be and half-dozen medical onlookers that the birth was moving along normally. Everyone focused on making the woman comfortable, keeping distractions and interference at a minimum.

"And then we just let her contractions proceed," Charvet says, adding that she had plenty of assistance from a retired labor and delivery nurse as well as from the helpful crew members, who fetched her belongings and brought them medical supplies.

By the time the ferry docked from the 30-minute ride across the sound, birth was imminent, Charvet says. "The paramedics had swooped in, but they let me continue to deliver the baby."

The next scene was of a cooing new mama and papa, with their baby Lucy. Although the paramedics were ready to whisk them off by then, Charvet convinced them to wait for the placenta. "Then off they went," she says. "And off I went wondering what had just happened!"

After a couple of stressful, chaotic weeks in her life, Charvet says the experience felt like a gift.

"It was a thrilling and wonderful experience," she says. "It felt like a gift from the universe."

Read the full article here: Child Born on Ferry a "Gift from the Universe" for Midwife

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  1. your mom is cool! I know the mother us truly greatful for the angels that were placed to help bringing another life in this world :) Go midwifes….and nurses…and EMTs

    5 agree
  2. <3 lots of love to midwives. my favorite part? "Then I did the midwife-thing of letting the mother continue her natural process without interruption." awesome. <3

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  3. What a beautiful beginning to little Lucy's life in the outside world! And hooray for midwives everywhere!

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  4. That's so awesome! Go Therese! I love that the other medical folks stepped aside for her.

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  5. Lucky Lucy and her mama to have Therese there! What a great story with a happy ending.

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  6. This is totally awesome, and hurray for people who can keep their ish together under pressure. I love that everyone was ready to let a midwife take over! And what a cool birthing story!
    Being not familiar with the area… how long is that ferry ride? 'cause wow, it sounds like lil' Lucy was ready to make her appearance!

    1 agrees
    • It's only a 35 minute ride! That baby was in a HURRY.

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      • I read about the birth on KOMO and my first thought was, "WOW, that was fast!" That's so great that your mom and the nurses and other folks were there. It's like it was meant to be.

  7. Ariel, you look just like your momma! Well, based on pictures from the internet.

    What a scary yet awesome story. Welcome Lucy, the story of your birth will be one to remember :-)

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  8. Sooo… now I'm freaking out because one of my best friends since kindergarten lives in Seattle, is due in about three weeks, and is planning to name her baby Lucy! I haven't heard anything from her, so I assume it's not her… buuuuuuuuut that would be pretty insane!!!

    • I think (although I'm not totally sure) that the parents were from Bainbridge Island, since they were on the ferry run headed from Bainbrige > Seattle (where they may have been planning to have the baby at a hospital).

    • Just eagerly messaged her, and it's not her. Slightly bummed, not gonna lie. Haha.

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  9. Well, hooray for little Lucy and hooray for your mom. And what a story to tell the students at Bastyr when she got there!

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  10. My husband (who works in the medical field in Seattle) was just telling me about this!! How amazing that it was your mom! (sidenote: the first thing I said when he told me a baby was delivered on the BBI ferry was "well there were probably multiple medical professionals on that boat!" Of all the ferries in the area, I'd pick that one for an unplanned birth.)

    1 agrees
  11. OMG. I live in the area and heard about this on the radio this morning at work, its so awesome to find out that it was Ariel's mother who helped deliver! Way to go mommas!

  12. Looks like your mom needs a satin cape with MW embroidered on it!

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  13. !!!
    I heard about this on KUOW (Seattle's NPR station) walking home from work yesterday. Pretty amazing story. I wonder how many older siblings Lucy has because that was one quick labor and delivery.

    • Sometimes, even first-time mommas have "Speedy Deliveries"! With my first (and so far only) kiddo, labor kicked in at home at about 8pm, water broke in my bathroom at 7:30am the next morning, baby boy was born at the waterbirth center at 9:55am.
      Needless to say, my midwives STRONGLY SUGGEST that I do a home birth next time, to avoid "baby-born-in-car-itis" lol.

      • I was induced with my first one, but after they broke my water in the hospital, she came super fast after that, and I got told the same thing! But, when I had her sister 3 years later, my water broke at 11:30pm, I drove myself to the hospital, and by the next morning my contractions still hadn't really got going so they used pitocin to help it out. (I didn't want to walk and leak everywhere in the hospital). So it MAY not happen that way! :) Don't worry! :)

      • Yup, I had a 3 hour labor from start to finish with my first (and only) child. I credit my midwives and the hypnobirthing classes we took to keep me calm and let my body do it's thing… plus, I'm sure, a whole lot of luck :) Hooray for midwives everywhere!

  14. I heard about this but didn't know it was Therese – amazing! (we stayed at her place this past summer). What an incredible, beautiful story!

  15. That's awesome!

    I work in the same building as our local fire department, who are also the rescue crew. About a month ago, a husband and wife came speeding into the parking lot because the wife was in labor NOW. Our guys pulled an ambulance up to their car, swapped the wife over, and she gave birth soon after. She'd been having contractions for less than an hour or something and they were on the way to the hospital. My thoughts, as a never-been-pregnant woman, were, "Damn!That's the way to do it! None of this 36 hour labor nonsense!"

    Also, I don't know if this happens everywhere, but here when paramedics deliver a baby, the hospital gives them a little stork pin.

  16. Your mama is a superhero! Love that the EMTs and nurse gave the profession of midwifery the respect it is due! I'm the mama to a sixteen-week-old, and I know for sure that I wouldn't be enjoying motherhood nearly as much as I am now if I hadn't had the support and guidance of my amazing midwife during pregnancy and delivery, and ESPECIALLY during my first postpartum weeks.

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  17. That's fantastic! So fortunate to have your mom & so many other experienced people to look out for her!

    I live in a community dependent on ferry systems & I know a woman who delivered on a ferry here. Her kid has a free pass for life–though I'm not clear if it's all the company's ferries or just the one route he was born on.

  18. Amazing how birth just happens. It would have likely unfolded perfectly without all the buzz of people assisting. It's lovely a Midwife was able to protect her from what could have been unneeded "life saving" help, like clamping the cord early or telling her how to push.

    I just wish the Midwife could have said that the woman BIRTHED her baby and she was there to assist, not that she delivered the baby. Mamas birth. Pizzas are delivered.

    2 agree

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