‘She flew out’: Opera singer Emily Geller Hardman gives birth to baby girl in back seat of her car
Emily Geller Hardman gives birth in the back of her car. (Photo: Emily Geller Hardman)
Opera singer Emily Geller Hardman had organized every detail of her pregnancy. It wasn’t supposed to include giving birth in the back seat of her car.
Hardman was about 37 weeks along in her pregnancy in May when she decided to attend a family wedding in Pennsylvania, a 3 1/2-hour ride from her home in New York.
“I was experiencing some prodromal labor, but prodromal labor can go on for weeks,” Hardman said. “I just thought, ‘What are the chances of me going into labor for that one day we were gone?'”
After dancing and spending time with friends and family at the wedding, Hardman and her husband, Travis, arrived at their hotel room around 11 p.m. and were soon asleep. At midnight, Hardman said her water broke but that she wasn’t compelled to immediately rush to the car.
Emily and Travis Hardman during the wedding before Emily went into labor. (Photo: Emily Geller Hardman)
“The amniotic fluid was clear, and knowing that it could take 24 hours or longer for labor to begin, I decided to try to rest for a couple of hours before we drove back, thinking that it could be a long labor and I didn’t want to be exhausted,” Hardman said.
When her contractions began around 3 a.m., Hardman awakened Travis and told him they should get on the road to Danbury Hospital in Connecticut – about four hours away. They were in the car by 4 a.m.
After giving birth to her first child through Caesarean delivery, Hardman had been preparing herself for an unmedicated birth with her second child for three years.
She listened to podcasts, surrounded herself with a supportive team of midwives at the Connecticut Childbirth and Women’s Center and read books, including “Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth.”
“I do look at birth as a natural bodily function. I don’t view it as something terrifying,” Hardman said.
She was sitting in the back seat with the GentleBirth meditation app, which had a separate contraction-timer. According to the Daily Voice, Hardman would press a button whenever she felt a contraction, and the app would talk to her in a soothing voice.
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“The contractions were very intense, but again, I’ve been preparing for three years. With any kind of pain, I think a lot of it is mental game,” Hardman said. “So I was really focusing on relaxing my jaw. Doing lip trills, slow exhales, and deep low moans to relax my body.”
Around 5:30 a.m., she asked Travis to pull over and got out of the car. That’s when she noticed her water leaking again and she could feel herself “bearing down and starting to push.”
“I willed myself into the back seat because I figured that we needed to get back to my midwives, my doula, and to the hospital,” Hardman said. “That was our plan.”
But Hardman felt herself pushing: She knew the baby was coming and she told Travis to pull over once again.
“Basically, the next contraction, I felt the head. And then she flew out after. So her entire body flew out in one contraction,” Hardman said.
Emily Hardman's baby after the delivery. (Photo: Emily Geller Hardman)
Hardman wrapped the baby in towels, blasted the heat in the car rubbed the baby’s back to stimulate her and discovered the gender of her newborn.
Travis called 911 and the ambulance arrived within 10 minutes, taking Hardman and her baby to St. Peter’s University Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
“I am used to high-stress situations and having to focus my mind,” Hardman said, referring to her career as a singer, adding, “The thing about birth is that birth happens everywhere, and people give birth in all sorts of locations. It just so happens that mine was in a car.”
The baby, Rosemary Claire, is happy and healthy.
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