RSPCA inspector parents Nicky and Jason Thorne from Suffolk forced to deliver their baby girl in the car en route to hospital
- Credit: RSPCA
With two RSPCA specialist rescue inspectors as parents, baby Peggy Grace may have known she was in safe hands when she decided she couldn't wait until the hospital to arrive in the world.
Just the day before her birth, dad Jason Thorne was investigating a group of poorly treated horses - little did he know he was soon to be tasked with an emergency of a very different kind.
Two days overdue, Nicky, who has been an RSPCA inspector for 13 years, began to feel that familiar twinge at the couple's home in Rickinghall, Suffolk around 7.30am on December 12 and knew that contractions were finally about to begin.
She had started her maternity leave from the RSPCA just a few weeks previously and Jason's shift wasn't set to start until 12pm that day, so with contractions soon reaching just four minutes apart, the couple decided to phone the hospital for some advice.
Nicky said: 'Once the contractions became very frequent, I knew I'd have to get to hospital reasonably soon. My two-year-old son Noah's birth was quick, so we thought that with my second, things would probably progress swiftly once again. Little did we know just how quickly.'
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After phoning the hospital, which advised that Nicky and Jason should make their way in for a check over but that there was no need to rush, the pair enjoyed a calm breakfast together. They got themselves ready before leaving home at around 9am, to make the half-hour journey to hospital.
Jason said: 'We thought we had plenty of time, Nicky was feeling relaxed, and we took our time to get ready without getting stressed. She even had time to straighten her hair.
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'I phoned the hospital to let them know we were on the way, but after about ten minutes in the car, Nicky started to feel some pretty intense contractions all of a sudden, and before I knew it she was telling me to pull over. I couldn't believe it, but she was adamant. Within minutes Nicky could feel the head, and then I realised we weren't going to make it to the hospital - this baby was about to arrive.'
Jason pulled the car into a layby in a quiet lane off of the main road near to the village of Stanton, running round to the passenger side where Nicky had got herself onto her knees on the passenger seat. Within minutes, baby Peggy was born.
'She was born so quickly, I hardly had to push,' Nicky said. 'Jason caught her, and she wriggled about and cried instantly, which was such a relief to hear. Giving birth without any medical professionals nearby was a really scary thought, but I had no choice.'
After calling the midwife for advice and with only a couple of towels to hand, the pair checked Peggy over and popped her under Nicky's t-shirt to keep her warm, and waited for the ambulance to arrive.
Jason said: 'When I look back, having that time together in the car while we waited for the ambulance was so incredibly special.
'It was a really bright sunny morning, and we just watched Peggy together, took a few photos, and it was so peaceful.
'I was in complete awe of Nicky and how she took it all in her stride, she was amazing. It wasn't until the ambulance arrived and whizzed the girls off to hospital that I got a moment in my car to reflect, and I have to admit I had a little cry.'
When they reached the hospital Nicky and Peggy were checked over before Jason cut the umbilical cord.
Peggy was then weighed at 7lbs 9oz. The girls then had a bath and a few hours later they left to collect Jason's children Maisie, 11, and Harrison, nine, from school.
The pair's two-year-old son, Noah, was at home with his grandparents, eager to meet the new arrival.
After her maternity leave, Nicky will join Jason back on the frontline of the RSPCA's inspectorate team, facing animal cruelty and neglect on a daily basis.
They both work in a 15-strong team of officers covering an almost 100-mile radius around Norfolk and Suffolk.