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'Nurse mode:' Labor nurse delivers her own daughter in unplanned home birth

She couldn't make it to the hospital in time, so labor and delivery nurse Megan Whaley went into 'nurse mode' to deliver her own daughter.
/ Source: TODAY Contributor

What happens when a very pregnant labor and delivery nurse goes into labor and knows she won’t make it to the hospital? For one woman, that meant getting into “nurse mode” and single-handedly delivering her daughter on her bathroom floor like a pro.

Megan Whaley, who was 40 weeks and 2 days along, welcomed Emery Patrice Whaley on March 21 at 10:31 a.m. while her toddler son watched television nearby in their Oliver Springs, Tennessee, home.

“I can’t believe that I had her here by myself,” Whaley told

But as her husband was racing home and an ambulance was on the way, baby Emery wasn’t going to wait. Whaley, with her 11 years as a labor and delivery nurse, stayed calm and focused.

“I went into nurse mode and realized what had to be done,” Whaley, 36, told

Megan and David Whaley, with their daughter, Emery, who was born during an unplanned home birth.Megan Whaley

She and Emery were both healthy after the unexpected home birth.

“We are very blessed that everything went as smooth as it did,” Whaley said. “I realized now all the things that could have gone wrong, so it’s amazing to me that things went as well as they did.”

The day began when Whaley’s husband, David, left for work and son Jakob, 12, headed to school. Their son, Deegan, who turned 3 the day after his sister arrived, was home.

Whaley felt contractions around 9 a.m. and called her husband to come home. She planned to go to the hospital when he arrived around 10:30 am. Instead, as her contractions grew more intense, she called again and asked him to call an ambulance. “I couldn’t really talk at that point,” she recalled, because she was in so much pain.

Her water broke around 10:20 a.m., and she felt that unmistakable urge to push. Deegan checked on her a few times in the bathroom and patted her on the head. He even brought her a refreshment shortly before his sister was born.

“My son went and got a juice box and put a straw in it and asked if I wanted some juice,” Whaley said. “Then he asked me if I wanted to watch ‘PAW Patrol’ with him.”

He went back to his favorite show and she prepared for a home birth. Whaley covered the bathroom floor with towels and wadded up more towels between her legs to protect the baby from a fall.

“The cardinal rule is, don’t drop the baby,” she said, remembering her training. “That kept running through my head because we have a tile floor.”

Whaley delivered Emery’s head, but she couldn’t get her body out and feared the baby was stuck.

“I remembered thinking, ‘I’ve got to get this baby out,’” Whaley said, “so I pushed as hard as I could and used my hands and just held her as she came out.”

She wrapped Emery in towels and once the 8-pound, 3-ounce newborn began crying, Deegan came back in and couldn’t believe what he saw. “He was like, ‘baby?’” Whaley said. “He held his hands out like, 'What just happened?'”

nurse home delivery
Deegan with his new baby sister, Emery.Megan Whaley

Whaley called her husband, who was just coming up their long driveway and heard the cries of a newborn through the phone. “I knew it wasn’t Deegan,” he joked.

Though he was anxious all the way home, David Whaley was calmer once he got home and saw that Megan and Emery seemed OK. Paramedics arrived and took the family to the hospital.

“That’s a whole new level of respect of what she went through all by herself,” David Whaley said. “She’s an amazing lady. I’m very proud of her.”

And he too felt lucky that both were healthy.

“It’s not 1860. This is not the ‘Little House on the Prairie,’” he said. “People don’t have babies at home like that, and if they do, it doesn’t always turn out like ours did.”

The couple did not know the gender during the pregnancy and are thrilled to have a daughter.

“I’m worried she’s going to be dramatic,” Megan Whaley joked. “I feel she wanted to make a dramatic entrance.”

Life, though, has since calmed down.

Megan Whaley with son Jakob and daughter Emery.Megan Whaley

“She’s been a really good baby and the boys are crazy about her,” she said. “Having a daughter is just amazing. I love my boys, but I am really glad to have a daughter.” contributor Lisa A. Flam is a news and lifestyles reporter in New York. Follow her on Twitter: @lisaflam