WAXAHACHIE – Life’s journey is full of surprises. Few are bigger than little Willow’s birth Friday afternoon - in a moving car on a rural highway.
"I didn’t expect it all," said her mother, Jennifer Russell. "It was different."
The birth, which was captured on camera by her husband as he drove, is getting a lot of attention online. The family posted it hoping it would ease the fears of other expecting mothers. The YouTube video of the sudden delivery - and the following joy - racked up 17,000 views in its first two days online.
"I just kept making sure the frame was good, and that I was staying on the road” boasted father Zachary Russell. "I’m surprised I did real well."
After his wife started having contractions Friday afternoon, the couple jumped in their Ford compact and began the 45-minute drive to their birthing center.
However, only 15 minutes from their Waxahachie home, Willow made her appearance along highway 287.
"By the time my water broke, I pushed once and she was out," said Russell, an elementary teacher in Mansfield. "I was totally shocked, because with my first child, it was like 12 hours at the hospital."
Her husband was just as quick with the video camera. He regretted not recording the birth of his son and was determined not to let this opportunity slip by.
"I wasn’t expecting to get it on tape, period," he said. "It wasn’t one of those things where she was in bed and everyone is waiting around."
Yet Russell kept one hand on the steering wheel while pointing the camera at his wife, as she unwrapped the umbilical cord from around her daughter’s neck and then called relatives with the news.
"I went into shock immediately," said Jennifer’s mother, Nancy Moser.
Throughout the delivery, the Russells never stopped driving. Eventually nurses at the birthing center severed the cord and weighed in a healthy Willow at close to eight pounds.
The Russells, meanwhile, plan to treasure that car as much as the video. They figure it’s appropriate that the two-door compact should be saved for Willow.
"It has to be her first car," her mother said, "so that she can tell everyone, 'Okay, I was born right there!'"