“I’m afraid now, you’re going to have to deliver the baby,” John O’Driscoll was told by a midwife in the early hours of the morning. He was somewhere on the road between Kingscourt and Bailieborough.
The Cork carpenter, renowned for his squeamishness at the sight of blood, had been on his way to Cavan General Hospital with his wife Olwyn who was in labor. But now, he was on his own.
O’Driscoll described the moment he saw the head of his newborn daughter emerge during birth in the back of the family BMW as both “one of the most wonderful, but scariest moments of my life.”
The situation prior to baby Anna’s unique arrival arose in the early hours of Thursday morning, September 4. It was while driving into Kingscourt town that O’Driscoll recalls his wife announcing those few fateful words, “I don’t think we’re going to make it to the hospital on time.”
With another prompt from Olwyn, the realization of what O’Driscoll was about to face began to sink in.
“’This is it,’ she said. I asked her, ‘Are you sure?’ and she said yes. We were about halfway between Kingscourt and Bailieborough when we pulled in.”
Olwyn, who had been on the phone to a nurse in the maternity unit at Cavan General Hospital, handed control over to her husband, who was told an ambulance had been dispatched but was up to 20 minutes away.
To add to the drama, in all the excitement O’Driscoll kept dropping the phone, while further difficulty came with the device falling in and out of mobile coverage.
“When I got back onto to her [the nurse] said to me, 'I’m afraid now you’re going to have to deliver the baby.’ I started feeling a bit faint. We were out in the complete pitch dark, there was no one around us for miles.”
Following the nurse’s instructions, O’Driscoll placed Olwyn into the back seat of the car.
“At this stage she was in severe pain. I was trying to look calm in front of her but, at the same time, she knows me well and could see I was freaking out.
“Delivering a baby is the last thing I’d have ever thought would happen to me. All of a sudden I was stuck right in the middle of it. It was unbelievable.
“To cut a long story short” as O’Driscoll put it, at 2:20 a.m. baby Anna was born weighing seven pounds four ounces. Gardai (police) from Bailieborough arrived on the scene soon after.
Olywn adds that a week before the remarkable birth of their daughter, her husband “wouldn’t have even looked at a bloody knee.”
“I couldn’t have done it with out him,” she says.