We often hear in the news how a first responder on the scene helped deliver a baby before the mom was able to get to the hospital. In most instances, several people are usually present during the emergency birth and offering their support.
Now, imagine for a moment being alone and stranded by the side of a road, going into labor with no one around, and forced to give birth on your own. No doubt a scary scenario.
That terrifying moment is exactly what happened to Charlotte Fatoma. She ended up giving birth by the side of Interstate 476 in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. However, Charlotte wasn’t alone. She had help from a 911 operator, which she believes was her “angel in disguise”.
The day began as usual, with Charlotte going to work as a nurse at an assisted living facility, when she suddenly began feeling contractions. The young mom with two children already knew that the contractions coming within rapid sequence was a tell-tale sign that she would be giving birth soon. Nevertheless, she assumed she had more than enough time to drive herself the approximate 40-minutes to the hospital without any problems.
Charlotte, however, didn’t take into consideration the volume of traffic on Interstate 476 at that particular time of day. She quickly realized that she wouldn’t make it to the hospital in time. Her only choice was to call 911 and hope for the best.
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Luckily for Charlotte, on the other end of the line was 911 dispatcher Elyce Rivera, who instantly realized the dicey situation Charlotte was in. Elyce remembers that Charlotte was panicking and that she needed to calm her down, so she talked her through the birth.
When Charlotte Fatoma suddenly went into the final stages of labor while driving to the hospital, 911 operator Elyce Rivera coached her through delivering her own baby in her car by the side of the highway. @SheinelleJones reports as the two women meet for the very first time. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/Yz3gNYJrnP— TODAY (@TODAYshow) December 14, 2021
“She’s just screaming,” Elyce recalls. “So, what I told Charlotte was that everything that she’s feeling, her baby is feeling. And I didn’t want her baby to go into distress, so that’s why I kept telling her, ‘Just take deep breaths’.”
Elyce instructed Charlotte to slowly steer the car to the disabled lane of the interstate and to get ready to give birth. “She told me to position myself in the car, move the seat back, push yourself all the way to the edge of the chair, put your legs up, prop yourself, and make a way for that baby,” shared Charlotte.
Within a matter of moments, thanks to the expert coaching from Rivera, Charlotte could feel the baby’s head protruding slightly. Rivera calmly instructs her to give one final push, just as the ambulance arrives to transport Charlotte and her newborn baby girl to the hospital.
As soon as Elyce heard the baby’s cry on the other end of the phone, she began to tear up. “I felt very happy. I felt very emotional,” she shared.
The two women met for the first time on the “Today Show” and shared their unique experience. Charlotte then asked Elyce if she would like to be the baby’s godmother. Elyce joyfully accepted while holding baby Elizabeth.
Charlotte continued, saying, “Elyce, the 911 operator, she is an angel in disguise. She was wonderful. She treated me so kind.”
Baby Elizabeth will also have something to remember and share when she grows up; her birth certificate, which officially lists “Interstate 476” as her birthplace.