My retired midwife mom delivered a baby on a ferry yesterday

By on Nov 30th


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