Michelle Knox seems to be able to take things in stride.
When she woke up around 6 a.m. on Tuesday, April 17, it was one day before her due date with her fourth child, her first girl.
She was feeling strong contractions that were only three minutes apart, but she didn’t panic.
She just followed the plan.
Nate, her husband, called the kids’ grandparents to take their three boys to school.
As her contractions got stronger, she felt the urge to push. Nate told her to put on pants. In case she needed to deliver her baby in the car, the pants would help catch.
Nate jumped in the front seat, Michelle got in the back. They headed to Florida Hospital Tampa near E. Fletcher Ave. on Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd.
Michelle knew from experience that she didn’t want to be in the front seat while she delivered her baby.
That’s where her last child was born.
Yes, you read that correctly. This is Michelle’s second time delivering her own child in a car.
This time, she was in the back seat when her water broke, near their home in Wesley Chapel.
Michelle was still in the back seat when she knew it was time. She told her husband, “Next contraction, I’m pushing.”
Michelle says they were on S.R. 54, near Wal-Mart and the Nissan dealership, in crowded morning traffic, when their baby girl was born.
“She cried automatically,” says Michelle. “I just wanted to make sure she was okay. As soon as I heard her cry, I was good.”
She pulled a blanket out of the bag she had packed for the hospital and swaddled her baby. “I wanted to feed her,” Michelle says, “but the umbilical cord was too short.”
When they arrived at Florida Hospital Tampa (FHT) — the hospital where her obstetrician has admitting privileges — the staff was ready for them.
“We have an emergency alert called Code Noelle, which not all hospitals have,” explains Richelle Hoenes-Ahearn, FHT’s director of corporate communications. “It means there is an obstetrical emergency and part of the plan for response includes a medical cart that is fully supplied with everything needed to help a mom in labor and deliver a baby. When Michelle’s husband came in and we called a Code Noelle, that cart was brought outside and had everything needed! It allows for complete care wherever the patient is, rather than waiting to bring Mom to a room.”
Michelle says she was grateful there was a team waiting for her outside the hospital. They cut the umbilical cord right there in the car.
She was then admitted to the hospital, where the baby weighed in at six pounds, 15 ounces. The baby and her mom were found to be doing just fine.
Maybe the harder task was agreeing on the name for their precious new baby.
Michelle says Nate didn’t like any of the suggestions she offered — he was still pushing for the girl name they agreed on when they first started dating, which was in high school in Fort Walton Beach in the Florida panhandle.
When hospital staff asked the baby’s name, Nate suggested Nylah Grace, and Michelle agreed.
Nylah joins her brothers Maurice, 14, Micah, 11, and Mason, 5.
If you’re worried about the state of the back seat of the family’s car after this experience, don’t be. It just so happens that Nate owns Everyday Car Wash, a mobile auto detailing business.
“He couldn’t focus until the car was clean,” Michelle says. “Now it’s like new. He does a great job.”