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Posted on Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 12:53 p.m.

Husband helps wife deliver baby along U.S. 23 in Ann Arbor

By Chelsea Hoedl

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Nicole Culwell holds her healthy, newborn daughter after her husband delivered her on the shoulder of U.S 23.

Howell resident Nicole Culwell gave birth in the morning on Monday to Susannah, a healthy baby girl, but it wasn’t your typical delivery.

Nicole’s husband, Matthew Culwell, had to pull over onto the shoulder of southbound U.S. 23 in Ann Arbor, 10 minutes away from Saint Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor Hospital, after realizing they didn't have time to reach the hospital.

“It literally went from contractions every four minutes to being so close to the hospital and the baby’s head was crowning,” Nicole said. “I just kept thinking ‘no this can’t happen.'"

Nicole said she went into labor around 5 a.m. Monday, but she said she was in denial about her water breaking and the contractions she was experiencing because her due date wasn’t until July 14.

By 9:30 a.m., Nicole was was experiencing hard labor, prompting the couple to begin the 40-minute drive to the hospital.

As they neared their destination, Nicole felt the baby crowning and called 911. Dispatch told Nicole to have her husband to continue to drive, but shortly after the call she felt the urge to push and Matthew pulled over.

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Matthew holds his daughter who he delivered on the shoulder of U.S 23.

Matthew called 911 once again and on the shoulder of U.S. 23 at mile-marker 42, he helped his wife deliver their daughter while dispatch talked him through it.

“He said it was pretty horrifying, but he was great and stayed calm about it,” Nicole said. “I don’t even really remember her being born. I just remember holding her after and patting her back to make sure she was breathing.”

Matthew said it was less than five minutes after pulling over that Susannah was in his wife’s arms, healthy and crying.

“I was shocked that it happened so quickly and then there was this huge relief because she started crying immediately,” Matthew said.

Help showed up shortly after the delivery, and a firefighter was able to clamp and cut the umbilical cord before Nicole and the newborn were transported to St. Joe's with Matthew following in his car.

“It’s not often that you get to see your name as the person who made the delivery on your daughter’s birth certificate,” Matthew said. “It’s a pretty cool story to tell even though people don’t believe you right away.”

Nicole and Susannah are both healthy and will be discharged from the hospital on Wednesday.

Chelsea Hoedl is an intern reporter for She can be reached at


Dr. Fate

Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 10:54 a.m.

That child's middle name will have to be changed to Road Warrior someday.


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 7:40 a.m.

Congrats! SN: If I had been in the fathers position I would NOT have been able to drive after that!


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 4:12 a.m.

Congratulations. I am so happy that this little girl survived her birth! This is a story that could have easily ended in tragedy because this mother chose not to pay attention to the obvious signs that she was in active labor. It doesn't matter when your due date is supposed to be, if your water breaks then you need to seek immediate medical attention.


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 7:47 a.m.

Babies have been born at home without doctors for many, many years... (Stating the obvious) Clearly medical attention thru a hospital wasn't necessary back then and isn't always needed now... If this was her first baby she may not have known the signs not having been thru labor before... So the fact that you say she "chose not to pay attention" to not-so-obvious signs of labor is kind of insulting to all women who have ever had a baby. Not everyone is lucky enough to live minutes away from a hospital where they can just go on a whim or what-if situation. I think her and her hubby did a wonderful job and calling 911 constitutes "seeking medical attention"...

An Arborigine

Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 1:36 a.m.

Welcome Susannah, a birthday the whole family will remember fondly forever!

Marianne Smith

Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 11:49 p.m.

The comments are almost as good as the story of Susannah's birth!


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 9:38 p.m.

God bless all 3 of you!! this story made my week!

Beverly Benmoussa

Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 9:21 p.m.

Too bad Saint Joe's - Livingston does not deliver babies any more. If there were more health care services available, that were closer, this mom and baby may not have been placed at risk like they were.


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 7:49 a.m.

From the sounds of it, the mom could have gone just about anywhere between Howell and Ann Arbor to have the baby! Just pull on over!


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 8:30 p.m.

Congrats to the Culwells.Beautiful baby.


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 7:36 p.m.

I love that the dad called it Horrifying. I probably would have felt the same way, despite the beauty of childbirth. haha.


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 4:15 a.m.

Being a mom who experienced both labor and a c section, I have to agree! The process of giving birth (however it happens) is pretty gross. But the beautiful baby you get at the end is quite awesome and worth all the yucky stuff.

Top Cat

Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 7:34 p.m.

So how old will Susannah be when she says for the first time, "Daaaaad, I am soooo tired of hearing the story about how and where I was born"?


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 7:51 a.m.

I'd say kindergarten... But then as a teenager, once she learns anatomy, she can tease him about it since he was "horrified" for paybacks!

Jenn McKee

Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 7:18 p.m.

Great story that cuts a little too close to the bone, since I only reached St. Joe's 11 minutes before my last daughter was born 2 years ago. A close call. So congrats, and kudos to the dad for pulling everyone through a tough situation. So glad all went smoothly. In my family's case, the cord had been wrapped around my daughter's neck, so thank goodness we DID make it to the hospital...


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 7:10 p.m.

What a beautiful little girl. This is something they will never forget.


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 6:49 p.m.

Congratulations! Susannah is a beautiful name!


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 6:31 p.m.

Well done, new mommy and daddy. Also: how big was the baby?

George K

Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 6:23 p.m.



Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 6:17 p.m.

Congratulations Culwell's on the birth of your beautiful daughter!


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 5:54 p.m.

Well done, Matthew and Nicole! Just goes to show, giving birth is inherently a safe, natural, physiological process and needn't always be treated like a disease that requires medical intervention.


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 12:32 p.m.

I don't recall saying it was always safe, Sara. I said it shouldn't "always" be intervened in, as is so increasingly common these days. Obviously some women have conditions that preclude normal birth. But a midwife can easily detect this and get you the help you need. If you stayed at home pushing for four hours (or on the side of the road) and no progress was being made, you could then transfer to a hospital and get the care you need.


Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 4:25 a.m.

Birth is not always a safe and natural process. In fact, without obstetrical intervention and modern medicine, many babies and their moms would be dead. As someone who attempted natural unmedicated childbirth and pushed for four hours, I can testify that without surgical intervention my son and, quite possibly I, would be dead. Was it because we were diseased? No, it's because my pelvis was not wide enough for him to pass through. Contrary to what natural childbirth advocates claim not every woman has a pelvis wide enough to birth the baby she's carrying. It would be a lovely and perfect world if this were true, but we don't live in FantasyLand. Bodies are not perfect. In African communities where there is no medical support, many babies and mothers die in childbirth. Thousands of women end up with fistulas because their babies didn't pass easily through the birth canal.

Jake C

Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 6:45 p.m.

While giving birth is indeed a natural process (probably the most natural one there is) by no means is it inherently safe. While most women will go through childbirth without any issues, many women know they are in an at-risk group (breech position, multiples, preeclampsia, etc) , and still others will have unexpected complications.


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 6:22 p.m.

yep, agree 100%. people have been having babies for the past few years now ;)


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 5:36 p.m.

Congratulations to all. @ Craig, great suggestion. might have to play the four digit on that boxed too. I wonder if that makes it in the carfax report.

John Counts

Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 5:13 p.m.

I'm pretty sure I would have fainted on the side of the road. Congratulations, Culwells. You are brave, very brave.

John Counts

Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 6:34 p.m.

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Craig, but I almost fainted when my daughter was born ... and that was in a hospital room. There would definitely be smelling salts involved at some point if it was on the side of the road. :)

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 5:32 p.m.

John, My guess is you would have stepped up and did what you needed to do..... then fainted later ;)

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 5:12 p.m.

congratulations and best wishes. A story they will never forget. and may I suggest, if the young lady ever plays sports #23 or #42 would look good on her jersey.

An Arborigine

Thu, Jun 27, 2013 : 1:38 a.m.

@CraigL how about both...63!


Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 5:11 p.m.

Awesome story. The same thing happened to a former YPD officer a few years back. He had to deliver his son on the side of the road, all involved were fine. That's a story the little kids will want to hear over and over.

Linda Peck

Wed, Jun 26, 2013 : 5:04 p.m.

What a beautiful story and such a beautiful baby girl, so obviously ready to be here. A beautiful family indeed.