HACKENSACK, N.J. -- Almost counted when nurses from Hackensack University Medical Center delivered a baby boy in the hospital parking garage.
Selis and Mustafa Tavsancil of Edgewater were headed to meet their obstetrician after the mom began having contractions early Thursday.
The couple was walking toward the parking garage elevator at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital at HUMC around 7 a.m. when junior began making his entrance, spokeswoman Sheri Hensley said.
“She just stopped and said she was in too much pain,” said Mustafa Tavsancil. “She told me 'The baby is coming. I can feel his head'.”
Denise DeSalvo, a supervisor in the pediatric operating room at the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital, had just arrived for her shift when she noticed the couple.
“The woman was crying and the husband was rubbing her back trying to comfort her,” the 21-year HUMC veteran said. “I asked if she needed help and she said yes. Then I noticed she was pregnant.
"I told her, 'I will get you to where you need to go.' I then called security and asked for a wheelchair. While I was on the phone, the woman let out this cry and I asked her 'Is this happening now?'
"And she said ‘Yes’.”
Coming around a corner around the same time was Christine Zweil, who works in the neonatal ICU at the Sanzari Hospital.
DeSalvo called out for help from Zweil, whom she'd never met.
"This is happening now," she told her. "We have got to do this.”
“There was no time,” said Zweil, who has worked at HUMC for 17 years. “The water broke and within seconds the baby started to crown and out he came.”
Because the mother was standing, Zweil had to catch the newborn, Hensley said.
She held the baby until help arrived and the umbilical cord could be cut. The nurses wrapped the baby in the parents' clothing to keep him warm.
“It was amazing," Mustafa Tavsancil said. "There were 15 or 16 people running towards us. They were organized and everyone was doing something.”
Mother and child -- six-pound, nine-ounce, 19-inch Aksel Onur Tavsancil --were doing fine.
So were the nurses, who went to work as usual.
It was the first delivery for each.
“We are so proud of the heroic actions taken by Christine and Denise who didn’t hesitate for a moment to help someone they saw in distress,” said Dianne A.M. Aroh, HUMC's executive vice-president and chief patient care and clinical officer. "Our nursing staff is second to none."
Mustafa Tavsancil, meanwhile, was grateful.
“Maybe if I was alone in the parking lot, I would not have been able to catch the baby. I was in shock," he said. "With this way, we now have a story and it will be remembered always.”