From PEOPLE Magazine Click to enlarge
JONATHAN, 7 LBS. 10 OZ.
QUICKER THAN ESPRESSO

Tricia Monico had ordered her usual half-skim half-soy sugar-free vanilla latte at a Starbucks in Wilmette, Ill., when she heard a scream: "Call 911! I'm having a baby!" Rushing to the bathroom, she found Lisabeth Rohlck, then 38, sitting on the toilet. Monico, 54, a retail clerk, asked the staff for towels and managed to get Rohlck to lie down. Then, says Rohlck, an actress, "the baby just slid right out."

Rohlck still had three weeks to go until her due date when she set out to pick up her 2-year-old son Aidan from daycare last Aug. 20. Sharp pains forced her to pull over and head to Starbucks for a bottle of water. "When I sat down, my water broke," says Rohlck, whose husband, Tom Celner, 40, was out of town on business. "I looked down and the baby's head was coming out." Jonathan began breathing on his own before EMTs arrived minutes later. Says Rohlck, who has appeared onstage and in films: "This was a nine-month production with a quick curtain call. It's clearly my best, most important role."

LILLIANA SILVER, 6 LBS. 4 OZ.
STARTING LIFE ON A DOWN NOTE

Dara Silver knew the baby was on its way when she and husband Jeff left their sixth-floor Fort Lee, N.J., apartment and boarded the elevator last Feb. 9 around 11:30 p.m. Just after the doors closed, Dara, now 36, a human-resources director, could take it no longer. "She was squatting," remembers Jeff, 40, who runs a small business, "so I put out my hands and caught the baby." When the doors opened to the lobby, he told the doorman to call 911. EMTs arrived in minutes and took Dara and baby Lilliana to the hospital. The couple, who also have David, 2, moved last year to River Vale, N.J., but display a message from their old building's staff. "Please note," it says, "that all future deliveries must be made in the service elevator."

AURORA, 6 LBS. 12 OZ.
BABY'S FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL

There were six children in Rhonda Schafer's classroom when she started work on Oct. 28, and seven when she left. Schafer, 35, a special-needs preschool instructor at Bear Creek Elementary School in Euless, Texas, was feeling "tired and strange" that Monday, she says. But she wasn't concerned until she started having regular contractions around lunchtime. "I left a message on my husband's cell phone telling him he might want to clear his schedule for the evening," says Schafer, who figured she could make it through the day at work.

Wrong. As her 3- and 4-year-old students were eating their afternoon snack, Schafer's water broke. A classroom aide, Amy Berryhill, 40, shepherded the pupils into a neighboring room where another teacher led them in song ("The Farmer in the Dell") to try to mask the urgent moans coming from Schafer's classroom. With school nurse Ruth Shook, 51, taking instructions by phone from another nurse at a hospital, Schafer got down to business on a patch of floor behind her desk, giving birth to Aurora Izabel Schafer—a sister to brothers Justus, 10, and Gavin, 3—at 2:30 p.m. "We thought we were experts at this birth thing and that we understood the schedule," says the baby's father, James Schafer, 34, a manager at a rebate processing company. "Aurora had a schedule all her own."

RICHARD, 7 LBS. 5 OZ.
TRAFFIC WAS SLOW—HE WASN'T

Zunilda Figueredo, 36, picked the wrong time to have a baby in New York City. The home health aide had gone to Queens General Hospital late on Aug. 27, 2000, but a nurse sent her home at 2 a.m., saying the baby might take another week. Five and a half hours later Figueredo's water broke, and her husband, Fhanor Gutierrez, 43, called a cab. Heading into the rush hour at 8:40 a.m., "I could feel the baby's head between my legs," says Figueredo. Traffic on the Triborough Bridge was jammed that morning. As the cab inched toward tollbooth No. 7, Gutierrez shouted to the booth operator to alert police. The taxi pulled over to the side of the road and, with police officers redirecting traffic, toll plaza sergeant Theresa Baley assisted the delivery of baby Richard, the couple's third child, with help from a midwife who happened by. Clearly surprised, the taxi driver managed to keep his wits. "I do remember," says Figueredo, "he paid the toll."

MICAH JONES, 4 LBS. 14 OZ.
'I KNEW WHAT TO DO FROM TV'

When Detroit autoworker Kimberly Davis Jones, now 37, went into labor on March 7, 2001, she sent husband Michael, 34, to fetch the babysitter for their two sons, Tommy, 10, and Malik, 3. But once he left, she realized she wasn't going to make it to the hospital. "I felt pressure and knew the baby was coming," she recalls. Jones asked Tommy, then just 8, to call 911. Following an operator's instructions, he says he "squatted down like a baseball catcher" and scooped up sister Micah as his mother pushed her into the world, then covered the baby with towels and tied off the umbilical cord with a shoestring. "I wasn't scared because I thought about ER," he says. Adds Jones: "I just tell him what he did was priceless."

MODESTO, 8 LBS. 12 OZ.
THE SUBWAY ISN'T THE BEST WAY

Dawn Martinez has learned her lesson. "The next time I go into labor at 3 a.m.," says the Bronx FedEx courier, "I'm going to run out of the house like it's on fire." Last Dec. 9, with contractions arriving every five minutes, Dawn, 32, and her husband, Modesto, a construction worker, decided to hop on the subway for the 40-minute ride to a hospital in Manhattan. As it happened, though, Modesto Martinez III, the couple's third child, made his debut on a blanket of paper towels provided by a transit authority policeman at the 14th Street subway station. "She said, 'Catch,' " recalls Modesto, 33, "and I was the first to touch him."

TRUMAN, 7 LBS. 3 OZ.
A BIRTH RIGHT IN THE BERTH

From Barbara Schlichtman and Michael Steinberg's Peaks Island, Maine, home, the only mainland access is by boat. So when Barbara, now 36, a newspaper editor, was in labor with their second child on July 15, 2001, she boarded a fireboat en route to the Portland birthing center. By the time the boat reached its berth Schlichtman was giving birth—with an audience of astonished tourists. Truman "loves the water," says Michael, 37, a professor, "and boats."

THAKURA, 5 LBS. 7 OZ.
SHE NEVER GOT IN THE FRONT DOOR

"You can't come through here—you have to go to the main entrance," said the uniformed guard, according to Bronx nursing student Rhonda Barnes, who pulled up at the ER of Albert Einstein-Weiler Hospital on March 5 in a livery cab. Barnes, 29, could already feel the baby's head emerging between her legs. By the time she reached the main door, Thakura, her third child, had made an entrance of her own—into Barnes's right pajama leg. "She couldn't wait," says Barnes. "She was ready to come, and that was that."

MICHAEL, 6 LBS. 13 OZ.: A NEWBORN CHECKS IN RIGHT NEXT TO THE CHECKOUT
Toothbrush? Check. Nightgown? Check. Disposable camera? Oh no! thought Katherine Williams when her 19-year-old daughter Shenna went into labor on June 22. With Shenna in tow, Katherine drove to a Wal-Mart in Albany, Ga., to buy last-minute supplies. But baby Michael Jerrod Moffitt Jr. (named after Shenna's ex-boyfriend) couldn't wait. "It probably wasn't even two minutes," says Shenna. "He just came out hollering."

J.D. Heyman, Thomas Fields-Meyer and Patrick Rogers
Kimberly Brown, Sharon Cotliar, Alicia Dennis, Rachel Felder, Eric Francis, Diane Herbst, Amy Mindell, John Slania and Marisa Wong

  • Contributors:
  • Kimberly Brown,
  • Sharon Cotliar,
  • Alicia Dennis,
  • Rachel Felder,
  • Eric Francis,
  • Diane Herbst,
  • Amy Mindell,
  • John Slania,
  • Marisa Wong.