Megan Martinez knew time was critical when she woke around 7:30 a.m. Friday and realized she was in labor with her second child.
What the 28-year-old Oswego woman never expected is that she would give birth to a baby girl less than an hour later along I-88 while en route to the hospital.
Martinez's husband, Chad, helped her deliver the baby at 8:27 a.m. in the back seat of the couple's SUV after he was forced to park on the side of the road, just a mile from the exit they needed to take to reach Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove.
On Monday, the couple were enjoying their first full day at home with the newest member of their young family: Maci.
"Looking back now, it truly was such a beautiful experience," Megan Martinez said. "We're so lucky that everything worked out. It was a blessing and a miracle."
That's because the couple learned Maci was in a breech position the day before her arrival. In fact, they were planning to have the child delivered by C-section. Still, no one was anticipating the baby would arrive before her Jan. 13 due date.
"I didn't have any symptoms or signs that I was going to go into labor anytime soon," Martinez recalled.
When Martinez gave birth to her first daughter -- 21-month-old Ava -- it was a speedy delivery. So when she realized Maci was coming on Friday morning, she figured she had about two hours to get to the hospital.
Fortunately, Chad Martinez, who is an Illinois state trooper, was off from work.
He said it didn't take long for the family to get on the road to the hospital. But they were slowed by rush-hour traffic.
"By the time we got to around Naperville Road, that's when she endured a large contraction in which the baby's foot actually came out of the birth canal," Chad Martinez said.
Megan Martinez, who was in the back seat with Ava, says she knew at that point they wouldn't make it to the hospital.
"I'm like, 'Please, Chad, you have to pull over,'" she said.
After calling for an ambulance and pulling the SUV over, Chad Martinez ran around to where his wife was and helped her deliver the child.
"He's like, 'I got her. I got her," Megan Martinez recalled. "I gave the tiniest little push and she just came right out."
After the baby girl was delivered, Chad Martinez saw his newborn daughter was purple and had the umbilical cord wrapped twice around her neck. He also didn't have anything to suction fluid out of her mouth.
Chad Martinez said that's when his training as a state trooper paid off. He got the baby free from the umbilical cord, sucked the fluid out of her mouth, turned her over and gently patted her back until she started crying.
"He did a wonderful job," Megan Martinez said. "He was so calm about it. He didn't think twice about anything. He just did it. And because he was so calm, I didn't panic."
Chad Martinez admits he wasn't feeling as calm as he might have appeared.
"As soon as I was able to hear the baby cry and actually start breathing," he said, "that was like having a ton of bricks taken off my chest."
He said it's "truly an honor" to help with the birth of his daughter.
"I think," Megan Martinez said, "he and Maci are going to have a special bond forever."