LEE and Caroline Bottomley are celebrating their very own “Christmas miracle” – who arrived in the world straight into her father’s arms in his Honda Civic.
Proud dad Lee was rushing his wife, who had suddenly gone into labour, to hospital in the early hours of the morning.
The journey, though, came to a truly unexpected but wonderful end for the couple, of Colyton Road, Chorley, just minutes after it had started.
And tiny Grace was born in the car – delivered by dad – at the side of the road on Harpers Lane, outside Wlliam Hill bookmakers.
The couple, who also have a son Jacob, three, recalled the unforgettable event, which began late last Tuesday night, December 5, and ended with mum and baby safely together in Chorley Hospital – following a police blue light escort through the town.
Heavily pregnant Caroline, 32, who had been given a due date of December 16, began to get intense contractions after waking at 11.30pm.
She had already phoned the hospital earlier, who advised her to take paracetemol and go back to bed. But they began to get worse and she knew she had to get to hospital.
She told Lee: “I need to push.”
Lee said: “Keep breathing, I’ll get you there.”
Lee got his wife into the car and they set off.
But they had only gone down the road when Caroline said: “I really need to push, you need to pull over.”
Lee said: “I pulled over and out of the corner of my eye I saw a police car at the side of the road. I was pomping the horn and flashing the lights.”
Police officer Matt Gillett and PCSO Laura Jones assisted the couple.
“The adrenalin just kicked in,” said Lee.
“I was shouting to one of the police officers, ‘can you knock on someone’s door and get some towels!’”
Lee was desperate to help Caroline. “She was over the passenger side, with her legs in the footwell
“Her back was over the top of the handbrake and arms keeping her up on the driver’s side.
“By the time I got round to the side of the car, Grace’s head was half born.
“Caroline had a last major contraction and I just had her in my arms.
“I was just holding her saying ‘I’ve got the baby, I’ve got the baby’.
“I panicked a bit, the cord was round her neck I had to take the cord off.
“The next step was we wrapped her up in her top and kept her warm.
“I just wanted to get to hospital as quickly as possible.
“Caroline was in the passenger side next to me holding the baby.”
An ambulance had not been able to give an arrival time so they set off.
He added: “The police radioed ahead and I just followed, running the red lights. They were waiting for us at A&E.”
Grace was born at 1.30am on Wednesday December 5. Caroline said: “It wasn’t until after we got to the hospital, we couldn’t believe what happened.
“You think how lucky you’ve been. What if something had gone wrong, if the police weren’t there?”
She added: “Lee was really wonderful. He was really calm and brilliant. It’s a Christmas miracle – that’s what it feels like.
“It feels fantastic.
“It a wonderful end to a stressful 12 months. We’ve set up our own business. We haven’t done anything by halves.
“Jacob was born on New Year’s Day, so both he and Grace are as special as each other.”
Mum and baby were released from hospital and allowed home just 12 hours after arriving there.
Lee said: “There’s no feeling like it. delivering your own child.”
The former Tesco worker, who has just launched his mastic sealant and concrete company CCS (NW) Ltd, said: “People have stopped me in Tesco and said ‘are you the man who delivered his own baby?’”
A Chorley Police spokesman said: “The two officers were targeting criminal activity when they were flagged down by this male asking for assistance.
“An ambulance was unable to give an ETA. At the time the lady was delivering, both officers were assisting the husband.
“Instead of waiting for an ambulance, they made a conscious decision to take the couple to hospital and used blue flashing lights.”