Whoa, Baby!

03/13/2003 at 02:34 PM EST

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."

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