OOIDA member Donna Glesk thought she could make her regular route from Erie, PA, to Buffalo, NY, for at least a few more weeks. She was only 33 weeks pregnant, after all.
Little Aaron, however, had other ideas.
Donna's water broke as she removed the tarp from her trailer at a plant in Buffalo, N.Y., Wednesday morning, Feb. 7.
"I asked them if there was a place to drop my trailer," Donna said. "Then I dropped my trailer and headed west."
The 40-year-old owner-operator's plan was to drive back to a welcome center off of Interstate 90 in North East Township, PA. There, her boyfriend, Jamie Shartle, would pick her up and drive her to the hospital.
Donna talked to Jamie by cell phone as she drove down I-90, contractions growing stronger and more frequent every few minutes.
"He was saying 'you're not gonna make it,' " Donna told Land Line Magazine during a phone interview Thursday as she rested in the hospital.
As she climbed into Jamie's pickup truck at the welcome center, however, Donna was surprised again when the birth began at about 10 a.m. - only 90 minutes after her water broke.
"I thought I still had more time," she said. "I think driving probably intensified it."
According to the National Weather Service Web site, temperatures in Erie County were hovering at 11 degrees during Aaron's birth.
During the next few minutes, Jamie caught the baby boy and supported Donna as a state trooper arrived on the scene. Jamie watched as paramedics checked over Donna and Aaron before taking them to the hospital.
"He thinks he did badly but he did real good," Donna said of Jamie's efforts.
Aaron Jacob Glesk was born weighing 4 pounds, 12 ounces.
Donna said Aaron's arrival doesn't mean she'll be retiring. With three years of driving under her belt, Donna enjoys the freedom of working for herself and meeting new people. In fact, she had delayed her maternity leave because she didn't want to be off the road for very long.
"I was trying to work as long as I could because I'm self-employed," Donna said.
Mother and son are resting at Hamot Medical Center in Erie, though Aaron is in intensive care due to his premature size.
On Thursday, Donna pondered how she'd tell her son the story of his birth. Maybe it would be on a future haul as the two ride side by side in her 1999 Freightliner Century.
"He's done real good," Donna said proudly. "I'm just glad everything turned out OK," she said.
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