Mahershala Ali is celebrating a week full of rare firsts. Not only did the 43-year-old become the first Muslim actor to win an Academy Award — taking home the first trophy of the night for best supporting actor for Moonlight at the 2017 Oscars on Sunday, February 26.
But he also welcomed his first child just four days before the historic win.
And, as the new dad tells it, the February 22 birth of daughter Bari Najma Ali was nothing short of amazing, because the baby was born inside her amniotic sac. Watch his adorable shout out in the video above!
“The water didn’t break until the baby was literally almost out. So when she was born, she came out in a clear, like, bag,” the first-time dad told Access Hollywood. “And I’m going, ‘Wow, they come brand new!’ And … she was in the sack, and it was incredible!”
This kind of delivery is called an “en caul” birth and it doesn’t happen very often (about 1 in every 80,000 births, according to some statistics). Babies are born this way when the thin membrane that surrounds them — the amniotic sac — doesn’t break. The encased baby isn’t harmed by this type of birth. In fact, quite the opposite.
“It protects the baby from being injured; it serves as a cushion around the baby,” Dr. Amos Grunebaum, director of obstetrics at New York-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center, told Time.com in 2015.
Some consider such babies to have lifelong luck and an affinity for water, which seems fitting for the daughter of an actor who won an Oscar for Moonlight, a film that features a pivotal scene where Ali’s character Juan teaches Little (Alex Hibbert) to swim. “There are a lot of myths surrounding en caul births,” Grunebaum told Time, adding that there are many “sources in the literature where people think the person delivered that way has certain powers.”
The House of Cards actor, whose full name is Mahershalalhashbaz, and his wife, Amatus Sami-Karim, first announced they were expecting in December. The couple, who married in 2013, was still brainstorming baby names last month.
“We’re looking to do something simpler,” Ali told Jimmy Kimmel, who also hosted the Oscars, on January 11. “My wife’s name is Amatus Sami, but we’re going to do something a little bit simpler for our child,” he explained, vowing to still “keep it unique.”
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