Wrong turn leads woman to give birth on Ravenel Bridge

Baby Gonzales
Baby Gonzales

CHARLESTON, SC - By Bob Behanian  bio | email

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The first daughter of the Gonzales family has an unusual claim to fame. She is the only child of the family to be born on the Ravenel Bridge and the first Gonzales born in the U.S.

As most Charlestonians were making their morning commutes, Maria Gonzales and Mery Martinez were heading to the Medical University hospital when a wrong turn put them on the Ravenel Bridge instead of heading onto peninsular Charleston. A crowning Sherlyn Gonzales forced Martinez to park the car in the middle of the Ravenel Bridge and help the mother through birth.

However, the story started a few hours prior, when Gonzales awoke to painful contractions. Speaking through a translator, both women told the story of baby Gonzales' arrival.

"I woke up before 3 a.m. in pain and my husband asked if I was going to the hospital. I said, 'No, not yet,'" she said.

Gonzales called Martinez and asked her to call MUSC to find out when they should make the drive to the hospital. The hospital told Martinez to wait until the contractions were spaced five minutes apart.

"A little after 6 a.m., we went to Mery [Martinez]'s house. The pain was much stronger so we were on our way [to the hospital]," said Gonzales. "She [Martinez] can tell you the rest, because I don't know what happened after that."

From Martinez's home, the two made their way onto I-26 headed downtown when they chose the wrong exit and headed onto the Ravenel Bridge. However, the duo still thought they would make it to the hospital.

"Actually, we really thought we were going to make it," said Martinez. "Everything happened way too quickly and we thought she was going to make it because her water did not break and she was not bleeding."

But baby Gonzales had other plans.

"When she felt the head come out, she told me. I was in the front seat, so I jumped to the back seat to help her and do what I had to do take her out," said Martinez.

Then Martinez called 911 for instructions. "We were all very nervous," she said.

Martinez says she has no idea how long it took after birthing baby Sherlyn for emergency medical crews to arrive on the scene, but she thinks it was about 20 minutes. "For us it was an eternity," she said.

Officials for MUSC and Charleston County EMS said they arrived a few minutes later.

However, Martinez, Gonzales and the new-born baby were in the middle of the road during morning rush hour and the umbilical cord was wrapped around the baby.

"She [baby Gonzales] had cried and we had put her on top of her mom's chest and her umbilical cord was wrapped so I unwrapped it and wrapped them both in blankets," said Martinez. "We were a bit calmer at that point. I just got out of the car to stop a lady to help us."

Martinez, the unlikely midwife, gives much of the credit for the easy birth to the baby. "I just helped a little bit, but she was ready to be born," she said.

Less than eight hours later, word had spread from Charleston to Mexico.

"The family is very happy. We called everyb ody in Mexico; they're very happy but they can't believe what happened," said Gonzales.

Gonzales has three sons. Martinez's role is far from over, even after helping give birth to baby Gonzales. "I'm going to be a godmother," she said.

It is unknown if baby Gonzales is the first baby born on the Ravenel Bridge.

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