Yiran Sherry's water broke as she started the laundry the morning of September 9. Her contractions had started in the middle of the night so she expected she’d deliver her second baby soon.
Though where she delivered was completely unexpected. Yiran Sherry welcomed baby Maeve in the front seat of the family’s Tesla, while dad, Keating Sherry, intermittently drove and used autopilot in his rush to the hospital.
“We assumed we were going to make it,” Yiran, 33, of Wayne, Pennsylvania, told TODAY Parents. “I remember telling Keating, ‘I think her head is coming out. I think her heading is coming out.’ But I was so focused on the map, where we are on the screen. Also, I’m like, 'Should I push or hold it? Should I push or hold it? What should I do?' I just felt like I think I’m supposed to push with each contraction. That’s how all the movies and TV shows do it.”
Meanwhile, the couple’s 3-year-old son, Rafa, was in the backseat, wondering occasionally what was going on.
“He was asking, ‘Is Mommy OK?’” Yiran said. “He was in the back so he couldn’t really see.”
When Yiran’s water broke, Keating was preparing to take Rafa to school. At first, Yiran suggested that her husband take their son to school and come back for her, but Keating thought they leave then.
“We were running a little behind that day,” Keating, 34, told TODAY Parents. “She was telling me to drop Rafa off to school. But I figured time was of the essence.”
He was right: The family encountered rush hour traffic. Keating alternated between driving, comforting his wife and trying to remain calm.
“I figured my responsibility as a husband was to get my wife to the hospital safely. That was the number one objective. Although when she was going through her labor, I was getting that death squeeze from her,” Keating said. “She’s having these intense contractions. So occasionally I would put the car on autopilot to check on her, look back and see Rafa, just to make sure he was OK.”
Keating said he’s grateful for autopilot during those tense moments.
“With the autopilot, I’m still very focused on the road,” he explained. “But it’s nice to have that reassurance as your heart rate is just through the roof and you’re trying to handle a pretty stressful situation as best you can.”
When Yiran gave birth to Rafa, she had an emergency Caesarean section. She was pushing when his heart rate dropped and doctors rushed her in for the procedure. In some ways, she wasn’t sure what this labor would be like. She and her doctors were planning on a VBAC (vaginal birth after C-section) and as the drive progressed, she realized nothing would go how she imagined it would.
“I was thinking, ‘Oh, I just don’t think I have time for the epidural because it is going so rapidly,’” she recalled. “I’m like, 'let’s just hope that this takes place at the hospital.'”
As the couple were almost pulling into the Paoli Hospital, Maeve made her debut.
“I felt that she’s just completely out and heard crying,” Yiran said. “To be honest, although I was pushing, I just had no idea the baby would come out before the hospital. It’s like 20 minutes. I would never think that.”
Keating, too, felt stunned by Maeve’s speedy arrival.
“Our hope for this was that it was going to be a natural birth,” he said. “Never in our wildest dreams would we expect it to happen in the front seat of our car.”
As the shock wore off, the family appreciated how special Maeve’s birth was.
“It was such a surreal experience but also incredibly beautiful in a sense just because Rafa was there in the back seat — we were all together,” Keating said. “There was immense gratitude that everyone was healthy. You really go through a whirlwind of emotions.”
When they arrived at the hospital, doctors whisked mom and baby inside. Both were healthy.
“There was just such a huge sigh of relief once we were at the hospital,” Keating said. “You really count your blessings.”
Since her arrival, Maeve has caused a lot less drama. She sleeps and eats well.
“We couldn’t wish for a better baby. Rafa, our son, was a really good baby. People have warned us the second baby … might be tough,” Yiran said. “She’s really the perfect baby.”
Maeve’s birth has taught Yiran that life often doesn’t end up how you expect it.
“There’s a saying in Chinese, ‘Change goes faster the plan.’ A lot of times whatever the plan is sometimes (becomes) so unexpected,” she said. “In those moments, just be calm and make the best out of it.”