Natalie Whitton, 31, went into labor in the early hours of July 27 with her second child with Lee Reynolds, 34 but both parents thought they had ‘plenty of time’. However, as the pair drove down the M65 near Burnley in Lancashire, their son Harrison ‘shot out’ into the footwell of the couple’s Ford Fiesta estate. Mr Reynolds, who was on the phone to a midwife at the time, said he remembered thinking ‘We’re not going to make it’ just moments before the arrival of his newborn.
After Harrison was born, Mr Reynolds pulled over to wait for an ambulance crew. But as the minutes ticked by with no sign of a medic, the concerned father decided to make a dash for the nearest hospital, where Ms Whitton got immediate help. Mr Reynolds, a transport manager, said: ‘We were in the fast lane going 70mph, and I just looked on the floor and went “There’s a baby in the footwell!” to my partner.
‘She quickly picked up the baby, and then the midwife on the phone was telling us what to do.
“We needed to make sure the baby was breathing, and once she was sure the baby was breathing, she said to carry on.’
Ms Whitton added: ‘Lee kept asking me if I wanted to pull over. I could feel a little bit of an urge to push, but I said: “keep going!”
‘Then all of a sudden, the baby came out, and it went into the footwell of the car on the floor.
As the pair drove down the M65 near Burnley in Lancashire, their son Harrison (above with mother Natalie Whitton) ‘shot out’ into the footwell of the couple’s Ford Fiesta estate. Mr Reynolds, who was on the phone to a midwife at the time, said he remembered thinking ‘We’re not going to make it’ just moments before the arrival of his newborn
‘I remember feeling relieved that this pressure had gone. I had a water birth before, and that helped a lot, but I had nothing this time.’
Mr Reynolds, who lives with kitchen worker Ms Whitton in Darwen, said his partner had started experiencing contractions around 3.30am on Wednesday morning. But the pair didn’t rush to Burnley Hospital, as they’d previously been turned away before the birth of their first daughter, Sienna, now four, for arriving too early. Mr Reynolds said they’d spent the next few hours organizing childcare for their daughter, before setting off in their car for the 30-minute journey around 5.30am.
But as they sped along the motorway, he began frantically calling nearby birthing units and the emergency services, worried they had left things too late.
He said: ‘When we were on the motorway, Natalie said “It’s coming, I’m not going to make”, and that’s when I thought, “Oh, s**t! We ain’t going to make it.”
‘I ended up dialing Blackburn Birth Center, which is closer to Burnley than us.
‘But when we called the midwife and said, “Can we come to you”, she said, “No, we’re full”, so we just carried on.’
Mr Reynolds later got a call back from the midwife to check on their progress when all of a sudden, his partner gave birth to their tiny baby boy. The new parents spent roughly six hours with doctors before the pair finally returned home with their healthy new baby boy the same day. He said: ‘I was talking to the midwife on the phone, and then the baby shot out, literally shot out, into the footwell.
‘I just turned round and said: “There’s a baby in the footwell! There’s a baby in the footwell!” I was in a proper panic.
So the midwife said to me, “Pull over on the hard shoulder and ring 999.” So that’s when I pulled over.’
Mr Reynolds helped Ms Whitton perform some basic health checks on their new child who was born at 5.57 am under the guidance of 999 call handlers.
But after waiting some time for an ambulance, Mr Reynolds decided to take matters into his own hands and drive onto Burnley Hospital with Natalie and their newborn child. He said: ‘I could actually see the sign on junction 12 of the M65 for Burnley hospital and that’s the junction I needed. I was ten minutes away.
‘So I ended speaking to the midwife, saying “Am I better just going? What do you advise?” And she said, ‘If you think you’ll be alright, and you’ll be quicker, just go for it.’
The new parents spent roughly six hours with doctors before the pair finally returned home with their healthy new baby boy the same day.