Princeton mom delivers baby en route to hospital
PRINCETON — Roaring east on Interstate 80 past midnight on Monday, Princeton residents Matt Holland and his very pregnant wife, Jolyn, hoped to reach Exit 73, zoom down Plank Road toward Peru, and reach Illinois Valley Community Hospital so Jolyn could give birth there.
But soon-to-be-born Emma Holland had other ideas.
She was ready to “exit” near Exit 70 not far from Ladd and Spring Valley.
And “exit” she did.
Mother’s Day for Matt and Jolyn Holland will feel a little extra special this year as they recount the exciting birth of their second daughter who was born along Interstate 80 en route to the hospital.
Jolyn said Sunday night around 11 p.m. she began experiencing contractions, but they weren’t strong enough to cause any worry.
At around 1 a.m., however (on her actual due date), she got out of bed, woke her husband and told him they better get to the hospital fast. IVCH is about a half hour drive from Princeton. As they began making the trek on Interstate 80, Jolyn said she told Matt he had better “hurry up.”
In a panic, he floored it and got the family Jeep up to 95 miles per hour.
“My first thought was, we are not going to make it to the hospital. I’m going to have this baby in the car. I kept saying, ‘She’s coming, she’s coming’ over and over,” Jolyn recounted.
As luck would have it, Matt passed a Bureau County Sheriff’s deputy patroling the interstate who immediately flashed his lights and pulled them over near the Ladd/Spring Valley exit.
Matt said he could see his daughter’s head coming out at that point, so he immediately rolled down the window and frantically waved to get the deputy’s attention, and eventually jumped out of the car to yell that they needed help — that his wife was delivering their baby.
Luckily, the deputy remained calm, didn’t make any movements toward his gun, and walked up to the car to see exactly what was going on.
By that time, Jolyn had given birth to their baby girl, Emma, and was holding her for the officer to see. The officer calmly told her to wrap the baby in clothing to keep her warm, and radioed for the 10/33 Ambulance out of Spring Valley.
“It all happened so fast. I just couldn’t believe I delivered her in the car, but I was relieved when I was holding her and knew she was OK,” Jolyn said, adding it was pure instincts telling her what to do when delivering her baby in the heat of the moment.
When the first responders got to the scene, they let Matt cut the umbilical cord right there on the side of the road. On Emma’s birth certificate, her place of birth reads, “born en route on Interstate 80.”
In hindsight, the couple believes it was a blessing that they did get pulled over, otherwise they are unsure whether they would have kept speeding to the hospital or pulled over to call 911. Only one thing is certain. Jolyn was going to deliver her baby there in the front seat of the family vehicle, no matter what.
Baby Emma is perfectly healthy and mom is “feeling great” less than one week after giving birth. The family is falling into a new normal as a family of four.
And as for their Jeep, well, Matt said he’s still working on getting it cleaned out.