It was six in the morning on May 15 at home in Vernon, and mom-to-be Jessie Kozmoski felt a pop. She called her doctor, but no one was calling her back. Her nine-year-old son, Wyatt, made her a bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwich.
At seven, Kozmoski told Wyatt it was time to hit the road. The duo hopped in the car and started making the 45-minute journey toward Saint Clare's Denville Hospital. A family friend followed behind them.
“And as we’re on 515 I’m like ‘This is not good,’” recalled Kozmoski. “I don’t know if it was because it was a mountain, but everything progressed so fast, and by the time we were hitting right by the Dunkin' Donuts, I see the cop car.”
Her first thought? “We need to get away from this cop car. This cop car needs to go.”
She didn't want to get pulled over for speeding. The hospital was still at least 20 minutes away.
But she felt the baby's head coming, so she pulled over instead, flagging down the officer: West Milford Police Department's Amy Antonucci.
“All of a sudden, this car behind me starts flashing its lights and honking its horn, and I thought somebody got into an accident or something," recalled Antonucci. “It was the last thing I was expecting. But I just was like: ‘OK. Here we go.’”
The police officer kept her cool and sprung into action: calling an ambulance and paramedics, getting Kozmoski out of her pants, covering her with a PPE gown,and preparing to deliver the baby from the passenger side of Kozmoski's Jeep. Antonucci kept mom calm despite the scene that was unfolding — and passerbys staring.
When the ambulance arrived, Kozmoski hopped on a stretcher. The EMTs were men, who had never delivered a baby before.
Neither had Antonucci.
"I said: ‘At least it's me, I'm another female. And I've had a baby before. So, if we're gonna do it, let's just go. We got this.’”
Antonucci helped deliver the baby right there on Route 23, across from the Grasshopper Irish Pub
“Once we got her into the ambulance, it was about three minutes. It was quick,” said Antonucci.
“I really want her to know — if it was any other cop, I have no idea what would have happened,” said Kozmoski. “That was just the craziest thing ever and she was a rock star for me. She was like ‘I have a vagina, too — just do it. Let’s push.’”
Thanks to help from a rock star West Milford cop, baby Juliana was born on May 15, five pounds, 15 ounces. Kozmoski is convinced that the uphill drive on Route 515 is what accelerated her contractions to one minute apart.Though Juliana came much sooner than expected, mom and baby are healthy.
And Wyatt, who had prepared to not be able to see his new sister right away due to COVID-19 regulations, got to quickly meet her from afar, outside the ambulance.
"It was the quickest twenty minutes of my life, but also the longest at the same time,” said Antonucci. "Definitely the most incredible thing I've ever done in my career.”
“She will never truly understand," Kozmoski wrote in a message to the newspaper, "how appreciative I am to have had her with me."