Brianna Hill is celebrating her second bundle of joy in two months.
The new mother and recent law school graduate learned this week that she passed the bar exam in Illinois, which she took while in labor with her son, Cassius. Hill gave birth and then completed the second part of the two-day exam from the hospital in October.
"I could not believe it," Hill told Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie while holding Cassius on TODAY Monday.
"The past two months I had only been telling myself I had passed because I couldn't let myself go down the road of if I hadn't. Just opening up the email and seeing congratulations, I started crying, my husband started crying, and Cassius was very confused why there was so much yelling."
Hill, whose due date was Oct. 19, had studied for months for the exam, which was initially scheduled for July but was pushed to an online test in early due to the coronavirus pandemic. She was taking the virtual exam at home on Oct. 5 when she said she "felt something like a pop."
"I was like, 'That would be really inconvenient if my water just broke,''' she said.
If Hill had gotten up from her computer and walked away from the screen it would have broken the exam rules about cheating and automatically disqualified her, so she called her midwife and asked her if it was safe to continue taking the test.
Once she was told she had time, Hill grabbed a bunch of towels, put them on the chair and continued with the test. She ended up writing multiple essays while having contractions.
"I had actually been having preterm labor since 25 weeks, so I had been studying with contractions, so it was actually kind of a little bit of a blessing in disguise," she said.
She did not consider asking for an exemption for being in labor. If she had been disqualified, the next test would not be until February, and she had already been studying for the exam for four months after graduating from Loyola University Chicago School of Law in May.
"I was very skeptical that they were going to be very understanding, and then also I had just worked so hard for three years to get to this point," she said about deciding to continue. "And I had had so many job interviews and had been rejected because I wasn't barred yet, and I had finally gotten a job, and I just wasn't willing to risk this dream job that I had just landed. And I wanted to make my goals."
Once she completed the first day of the test, her husband rushed her to West Suburban Hospital in Oak Park, Illinois, where she gave birth to a 6-pound, 15-ounce baby boy.
The next day, she took the second part of the bar exam from a room in the hospital despite suffering from anemia and operating on very little sleep.
"Having a baby really puts the bar exam into perspective," Hill said. "It really makes you realize that this is not the end of the world. The end of the world is not having a successful labor and delivery, so I was just like, 'You know what, I've just got to get through this and trust my memory and trust all my hard work that I had been doing the past four months."
The staff set up a table attached to a hospital bed so she could complete the final two sections of the exam. In between the two sections, she nursed Cassius.
"It was really beautiful actually because it was pretty much all women that I was working with, and they were so positive and encouraging and wanted me as a mom, as another woman, to reach my career goals," Hill said. "And so they all kind of rallied around me and they came up with like plans A, B and C for how I could possibly finish this exam. It was so beautiful, and I'm so thankful for everyone at West Suburban who worked really hard to help me do this."