Jen Lilley Opens Up About Harrowing Labor — and 'Crazy' Life-Saving Minutes Before Daughter's Birth

Jen Lilley tells PEOPLE about her whirlwind of a birth story, sharing that she doesn't know if her daughter would've survived if they didn't get to the hospital in time

Jen Lilley introduces baby girl courtesy Jen Lilley
Photo: courtesy Jen Lilley

Jen Lilley was only seven minutes away from having to give birth to her baby daughter in the car on the way to the hospital.

In an exclusive interview with PEOPLE, the Hallmark star, 37, details the "crazy" story of the night she welcomed daughter Jacqueline "Jackie" Grace with husband Jason Wayne, which she says was "night and day" compared to when she gave birth to her daughter Julie, 3 next month.

Lilley, who also adopted sons Kayden, 5, and Jeffrey, 3, from foster care in 2019 and 2020, respectively, says she initially didn't know if she was in labor because it was her "fourth week of prodromal labor."

"Prodromal labor is a little different than Braxton Hicks. They're real contractions. They hurt as bad as labor contractions, but they're not consistent," she explains. "So when the actual night came, I thought it was just more prodromal labor, especially because my contractions did not time out properly."

When lying back down and trying to slow down her contractions in the bathtub didn't work, Lilley realized it was time to wake up her husband to go to the hostpial. At the time, Lilley says she thought she still had "hours to go" before going into labor.

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

Lilley then called her nanny Ashley to come over and watch her other kids while she and Wayne headed to the emergency room.

"So I'm telling my husband like, 'Hey, these [contractions] are not that bad. I'm just kind of overreacting. Just keep driving safe,' " she recalls. "We pull up to the emergency room — let's see, she was born at 1:12 a.m., so [it was] 7 minutes before we pulled up, 1:05 a.m."

Lilley says she sent her husband inside the hospital to find someone to bring her upstairs in a wheelchair. After Wayne was unable to locate any hospital personnel, the actress got out of the car between contractions and ran over to a security guard named Bob.

"So I say to this guy, Bob, words I've never used. I say, 'Hi, I'm in labor — hardcore.' And he just looks at me like yeah, right. He gets a wheelchair and he is taking his darn time. And he is like, 'Go ahead and sit down in the wheelchair.' And I'm like,' I don't want to sit right now.' The idea of sitting was the worst idea you could ever present to me. So I sit down in the wheelchair and he's like, 'Okay, what's your last name? Like, here's the forms.' I'm like, 'I'm preregistered Bob, we got to get upstairs, now.' "

Jen Lilley's Baby
L. Cook

Bob then called up to labor and delivery, where Lilley says the midwives knew to send her up right away as precipitous labor (having a baby in three hours or less) runs in her family.

"The midwife happened to be at the nurse's station. I'm still thinking that I'm not fully in labor yet. And all the nurses and the midwives were like, 'Get her in a room, get her in a room.' I don't even think I made it into an actual labor and delivery room," says the actress.

Once in the room, Lilley says she climbed onto the hospital bed on all fours when "all of a sudden the midwife says, 'Well, she has quite a bit of hair,' " which Lilley thought was a joke.

"I felt like the baby was going in reverse," she recalls. "So then the head came out, the baby's head came out and I was like, 'Okay, I'm going to stop for a second. That's a lot of relief.' And she's like, 'No, you're still in a contraction there. Go ahead and push.' And she flew out. My water broke as she came out," she continues.

"And so I think that the whole birth, the whole pushing part, probably took 10 to 15 seconds... It was so fast," says Lilley. "It was crazy."

The actress notes that baby Jackie aspirated, meaning she "breathed in some of the fluid when my water broke," and needed to immediately get to a warming table and get water out of her. Lilley also reveals that she began hemorrhaging after the birth.

"If I had this baby in the car or something, I don't know that she would've survived," she says. "So it was just one of those things where it was like, thank God we got to the hospital."

Jen Lilley
Jen Lilley

Now that Jackie is settling in at home, the A Little Daytime Drama star says both she and the baby are doing well.

"I'm on the mend and gentle with myself and forgiving with myself in the first six weeks postpartum," she says, adding that she and Wayne are "adjusting really easily" with another baby in the mix.

As for Lilley's other children, the actress says "they're absolutely in love" with baby Jackie.

"My son, Jeffrey, he keeps saying, 'I love this baby.' It's so cute," she says. "And then my daughter, Julie, wants to put blankets on her all the time ... They're all super doting over her, which is really lovely and it's been awesome."

Related Articles