Woman gave birth in front seat of car hours before defending her doctoral thesis

Tamiah Brevard-Rodriguez shares details of the unexpected delivery, and how she'll be spending Mother's Day.

Tamiah Brevard-Rodriguez, Alyza Brevard-Rodriguez, unexpected birth, Black motherhood, Black maternal health, Mother's Day, theGrio.com
(Photo: Adobe Stock)

This Mother’s Day is extra special for one New Jersey woman who is celebrating both the birth of her second child and receiving her doctorate. Strikingly, it is also not the first time the mother experienced a joyous crossover between motherhood and securing a degree.

Tamiah Brevard-Rodriguez, 40, a doctoral candidate and director of the Aresty Research Center at Rutgers University, began experiencing contractions in the early hours of March 25 while doing last-minute prep for the defense of her thesis — but didn’t think her second child was due for four more weeks. Instead, Brevard-Rodriguez had been focused on giving her defense in front of her professors, friends, and family later that day.

“I was physically prepared for a pregnancy; mentally my brain was not on a baby,” she told her local ABC 7 affiliate. “So I was having a very emotional response to knowing I was in labor, knowing I had this defense. I was literally shaking.”

As the contractions increased, she and her wife, Alyza Brevard-Rodriguez, consulted with their doula and made the decision to attempt to race to the hospital. However, with her doula on the phone and her wife driving as fast as her car would allow, Brevard-Rodriguez wound up giving birth en route in the front passenger seat.

“The doula is trying to tell me ‘Don’t grunt him out, just breathe,’ and I’m like, ‘This baby is coming,'” Brevard-Rodriguez said, per ABC 7.

After only three pushes, baby Enzo came into the world perfectly healthy, aside from some mild jaundice, at 5:55 am. The infant weighed five pounds, 12 ounces and was 19 inches long. 

The new mom told New Jersey.com that while she and baby were both OK, “I did have to detail [Alyza’s] car afterward.”

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Tamiah Brevard-Rodriguez, Alyza Brevard-Rodriguez, unexpected birth, Black motherhood, Black maternal health, Mother's Day, theGrio.com
Tamiah Brevard-Rodriguez in bed at the hospital after delivering baby Enzo. (Photo: Tamiah Brevard-Rodriguez)

Once the couple arrived at the hospital and mom and baby were examined, Brevard-Rodriguez took a brief nap. She freshened up with a shower, and proceeded to defend her thesis, titled “The Beauty Performances of Black College Women: A Narrative Inquiry Study Exploring the Realities of Race, Respectability, and Beauty Standards on a Historically White Campus,” virtually from her hospital bed, right on schedule. Brevard-Rodriguez disguised her background until she’d finished and then revealed her big news. She told NJ.com that those on the Zoom call were so shocked they “fell out.” 

In an email to theGrio, Brevard-Rodriguez confirmed she and Baby Enzo are “doing very well.”

She added, “Although [four] weeks early, he is thriving and the happiest little baby. He is surrounded with lots of love and has brought much joy into our home.”

Brevard-Rodriguez noted that she was proud of herself for “following through with both my educational and familial commitments.”

She continued, “It’s been a long six-year journey that has included the births of my two children, a global pandemic, and two spousal military deployments. I worked so hard for this moment and [feel] blessed to have delivered both my son and defense [on] the same day.”

The mom of two (she is also mom to a daughter, Aubriel, 4) said she’s looking forward to concluding this doctoral chapter with graduation and spending the remaining months of her maternity leave with her family.

“We [plan] to celebrate Mother’s Day after graduation at home with family,” she wrote, adding that the celebration doesn’t stop with just her. “We are blessed to have multi-generations of moms in our family celebrating with us. My wife and daughter are also graduating, so it’s full-on celebrations for the next month.”