Monica Bakos didn't envision her newborn daughter's first receiving blanket would be a police officer's winter coat.
Several things, it turns out, didn't go according to plan that bitterly cold night on Jan. 23, 2000, when the Carol Stream woman was forced to give birth in her two-door Chevy Cavalier with the assistance of one of Hanover Park's finest.
To commemorate Brianna Elizondo's unusual introduction to the world, she and her mom on Wednesday headed back to the Hanover Park train station where the action took place 13 years ago to the day and reunited with Officer George Sullivan.
"They showed us a childbirth video at the police academy 24 years ago, but let me tell you, it's a whole different story in person," said Sullivan, who met Brianna with a bouquet of birthday flowers.
Her due date still a week off, Bakos remembered putting in a typical shift at the salon where she worked and then heading to bed. When she woke up about 1 a.m., it was quickly apparent there'd be a race to get to St. Alexius Medical Center in Hoffman Estates.
With Bakos' husband at work, her mother, Debbie Knops, ran from her home next door and sped north on County Farm Road. But they knew they weren't going to make it and changed course toward the fire department.
That's when they spotted Sullivan's squad car lights. The officer was at the scene of a one-car crash on Lake Street and had just taken a drunken driver into custody when a frantic Knops approached.
Sullivan instructed her to pull into the Metra parking lot, contacted a dispatcher and knelt on the ground. He reclined Bakos' passenger seat and saw Brianna's head, which had emerged when Knops hit a speed bump, crowning.
"I'll never forget this big, black police officer glove coming down and reaching under me to grab her," Bakos said. "I was in shock."
In a matter of seconds, the delivery was over and Brianna instantly began to cry, a welcome sound Sullivan attributes to the minus 25 degree wind chill. Paramedics arrived to cut the umbilical cord and transport mother and daughter to the hospital. Sullivan headed back to his squad car to process his DUI arrest.
Bakos said Brianna, now a seventh-grader at Eastview Middle School in Bartlett, is a reflection of her delivery: When she decides to do something, she doesn't hesitate. Brianna figures she's heard the story of her birth a few hundred times.
"I think the whole thing is crazy and that I'm really lucky," Brianna said.
Aside from some bruising due to her quick journey through the birth canal, the newborn Brianna was perfectly healthy. Bakos said she's thankful Sullivan stayed so collected.
As if the delivery itself weren't chaotic enough, the family always laughs when recalling an exhausted Knops heading home from the hospital later that morning, only to get pulled over for weaving in and out of her lane.
The officer approached her car with a flashlight that revealed a bloodstained passenger seat.
"The officer started yelling for her to get out of the car," Bakos said. "Luckily word had traveled fast about Brianna, and he ended up escorting her home. It topped off a crazy night."