Sweeney and her Dubliner partner Inez Murray had been racing to make it to Roosevelt Hospital in the Big Apple on Wednesday last for the birth of their second child.
“The baby is born…tell me what to do,” Dubliner Murray yelled down the phone to 911 after she had helped her partner Sweeney deliver their child in the back of the cab.
Moments later she heard sirens as the emergency services approached them on 51st Street and Seventh Avenue. She stared down at the couple’s newborn son Finn Murray-Sweeney, swaddled in his mother’s trousers and lying in Sweeney’s arms. The couple had left their Prospect Heights home in Brooklyn less than an hour earlier.
“The cops arrived and around six squad cars, the emergency medical technicians got out and took over. They cut the cord and put Finn in a foil blanket,” a delighted Murray told the Irish Voice.
While the EMT team was looking after her partner in the back seat of the cab, Murray climbed out of the black car, walked over to their cab driver Juan Hernandez and inhaled a long drag of his cigarette.
Soon she began to notice the large group that was gathering around the area.
A few minutes later when the medical team took Sweeney – whose family hail from West Donegal – out of the cab and placed her on a stretcher, onlookers responded with a rapturous applause.
“The whole street erupted in applause as they took photos. “I think I moved into high functioning mode,” admits Murray, who began looking for wallet to pay the cab driver.
“The EMTs were amazed at how calm we were, they told us they very rarely had seen people so calm.”
Of course the new mother admits that she was frightened during the birth.
“Of course you feel scared. My main concern was that the baby was breathing and there was a moment before the last push that I thought to myself he could die,” Murray recalls.
Sweeney, a novelist, had been due to give birth last Friday. After visiting her doctor on Wednesday afternoon in Manhattan, even he was not convinced she was about to go into labour.
“The doctor told Aoibheann, ‘It could come tonight or it could come next week,’” Murray said.
On Wednesday afternoon after collecting their daughter Willa from school, the couple made their way home to Brooklyn and organized for their four-year-old to have a sleepover with some friends. Sweeney’s contractions were getting more intense, and the couple knew it was time.
Murray called Arecibo Car Service and cab driver Hernandez showed up at around 6:25 p.m.
“It happened so quickly,” recalls the Irish woman, whose partner’s contractions were less than two minutes apart as the cab driver sped across the Brooklyn Bridge.
A nervous Murray asked the cab driver if he had ever experienced child birth before, and was comforted to hear his wife had given birth last year.
“We didn’t understand how fast it was going to happen,” says Murray.“Once her waters broke I knew I had around half an hour, we had no choice. I thought to myself he has got to be born now.”
Sweeney later told reporters that she contemplated trying to hold the baby in.
“I was just thinking, ‘How do I keep this baby inside me,’ but you can’t do that,” the author recalled. “It wasn’t going to work.”
Minutes later at 7:26 p.m., after a completely natural birth, baby Finn arrived into the world.
Soon after Finn and his mother finally arrived at Roosevelt Hospital, some members of the NYPD who had been at the scene called in to visit the elated parents. The brought Finn a toy NYPD police car, two t-shirts that said “I Love My NY Mom” and “NYPD.”
“One of them told me ‘This is the best day of my life in the force,’” Murray revealed.
Murray, who studied at Trinity College Dublin before receiving her master’s degree from Columbia University, has lived in the U.S. since the early nineties.
The couple were introduced by a mutual friend over nine years ago and became domestic partners in New York’s City Hall three years later.
Sweeney, who has roots in Donegal, published her first novel, “Among Other Things, I’ve Taken Up Smoking” in 2007. She works full time in the Center for the Humanities at the CUNY Graduate Center.The couple frequently travel home to Ireland where the majority of Murray’s family are based.
“My mother said, ‘God bless her…isn’t it great that it happened to quickly,’” revealed Murray.
Less than a week old, Finn’s first trip to Ireland is already being planned.
“We will bring him home at Christmas,” the Dubliner told the Irish Voice.