When folks were telling Michael Buttino on Wednesday that they never could have done what he did, he shrugged them off. He had no doubts about helping his wife deliver their sixth baby – in the passenger seat of their Dodge Caravan on the shoulder of the Thruway.
“You’re there, it’s your wife, what else are you going to do?” he said, matter-of-factly.
Still, Buttino confesses they were caught off guard at their Elma home Tuesday morning when Sarah E. Buttino’s contractions quickly became intense. Their baby wasn’t due for another week, and while their first was two weeks early, all the rest had all been on time. Looking back, he said, they probably took a little too long packing before they left for Sisters Hospital.
As it happened, Baby No. 6 waited until her parents were near the William Street exit on the Thruway in Cheektowaga before her mother insisted she could go no farther.
“We had already stopped three times,” Buttino said. “We stopped on Seneca, we stopped again on Transit and on the 400. The fourth time we stopped, on the 90 East, her water broke.”
He called 911, and a calm voice on the other end said an ambulance was on the way, but they should get ready in case the baby couldn’t wait.
“And I was not prepared, I just wanted the ambulance,” he said. “So, my wife asked, ‘Is it OK to push?’ and I asked the 911 guy, and he said it was OK, and she pushed and the head came out, and he said I should be ready. She pushed again – and I’m holding the baby, wondering what to do. And that’s when the ambulance pulled up.”
It was 7:17 a.m.
Buttino, who works as a video- grapher for the Buffalo Bisons, managed to get film of the event after help arrived, but he joked that he may have missed his calling. “I should be a catcher,” he said.
More seriously, he said, “God gave me the grace to keep it together when I had to, but I got really emotional afterward.”
The couple – actually, all three – arrived at Sisters before Sarah’s physician, Dr. Anthony Pivarunas, got there. “He came in and said, ‘Are you the guys causing the traffic jam on the Thruway?’ ” Buttino said.
The doctor had been stuck on the Thruway behind the ambulance and missed another delivery, too. But that mother made it to the hospital before the baby came.
Wednesday evening, while Sarah was considering what to call the 7-pound, 5-ounce baby girl, her husband was with Elijah, 9; Lydia, 7; Siena, 5; Rowan, 3; and Milo, 1 at Ted’s Hot Dogs, for a little celebration.
Their sister will have a name, too, by the time she comes home today; they don’t let you leave the hospital without one, Buttino said.