- Who delivered the baby?
- Was the car, like, ruined?
- Was your bill cheaper?
These are the top 3 questions I get whenever I tell someone that I delivered my son in the car. The front seat of the moving car, to be exact. The answers are: the baby, not really, and nope.
Let’s back track!
My husband typically gets credit right away. “I can’t believe L delivered your baby!” How typical for a man to be the assumed hero. No, no, no. My husband drove the hospital-on-wheels at a speed slower than he typically drives, told me to relax, and used one finger to dial 911 after the baby was in my lap and we decided to pull over. He gets zero credit here. His only defense is that he was picturing my first delivery which included a stop at the McDonald’s drive thru and 2 episodes of Dexter on Netflix before 3 hours of pushing during which he complained that his arms were sore from holding my legs. He thought we had plenty of time. (We didn’t.)
The baby (we’ll call him J – now almost 3 years old!) gets all the credit here. He delivered himself by falling out of my vagina after what I thought was a 10-hour stomach bug that turned into 30 minutes of all-out panic and painful contractions while we waited for someone to come over and tend to our sleeping daughter so we could GTFO.
I called Labor and Delivery after about 3-4 hours of not being able to keep a single sip or bite in my body. I was 10 days away from my due date and had just moved into a new house not 3 weeks earlier. We had met the neighbors once. The triage staff told me to take Pepto Bismol. Thanks for that. At about 6pm, 10 hours after waking up with the bug, I started to feel different and started to think it could be go-time. I was texting friends and posting in my Facebook mommy group to ask what labor feels like. With my daughter, my water broke but I never had contractions, needing Pitocin and getting an epidural after feeling only 2-3 minor contractions. So, I wasn’t quite sure. Before I knew it, I was on the floor in an incredible amount of pain. I sounded all the alarm bells. L asked, “are you sure you want me to call everyone?” YES. CALL ALL THE PEOPLE. We timed one contraction and it was less than 30 seconds. Panic set in that the pain was only going to get worse and that I had waited too long. CALL 911. L said no. Instead he called everyone we knew to find someone who could come over.
The date was February 14, Valentine’s Day, and it was 10 degrees outside. L started the car and even in the midst of my intense pain and panic, my OCD kicked in and I told him to put a chuck pad (chuck, chux, potato, potatoe) on the seat. PRAISE THE LORD. That’s the reason behind the answer to question 2. When I picked myself up off the floor and ran out to the car in my slippers and sweats, my water broke the instant my butt hit the seat. Any mess was absorbed into my clothes and the chuck pad. I got to the car at the exact moment a friend arrived to watch our daughter. I slammed on the horn for L to come outside. About 20 minutes had elapsed between my laying on the floor knowing it was time and the moment we pulled out of the driveway.
We made it out of our neighborhood and to the first major intersection. The light was red. GOOOOOOOOOOOOO I shouted. My husband couldn’t cross 5 lanes of oncoming traffic, so he said “relax, we’ll be there in 10 minutes.” I didn’t even have time to ponder the many ways I wanted to inflict pain on him in that moment. In a sudden wave, I realized it was all going to be over. I pulled my pants to my knees, felt the head, screamed that I could feel the head, lifted my pelvis, and caught little J as he slid out and placed him on my bare thighs.
In an instant moment of release, the pain was gone. It was incredible.
But now the light was green and I had a baby in my lap and we were yards from the on-ramp to the highway. “Drive or pull over? DRIVE OR PULL OVER?????” L screamed. OH, NOW HE PANICS.
We pulled over and called 911. It took 17 minutes for the ambulance to get to us. 17. Minutes.
- Weren’t you scared?
- Was he crying?
- What the hell did you do?
These are the next most common questions we get. We weren’t scared because J seemed just fine. He was breathing normally and he wasn’t crying. He was looking around blinking slowly and was the cutest little thing I had ever seen. He wasn’t really covered in anything yuck. The 911 operator asked us if we had string in the car. “We weren’t prepared for this scenario,” we replied. A shoelace? L was wearing sneakers. He pulled out the shoelace and tied the umbilical cord. My daughter’s blanket was in the back seat, so we wrapped up J and blasted the heat. I’ll never forget looking down and seeing dog hair and lint stuck to the body of my 5-minute old baby. I think I said Oh My God at least 172 times in those 17 minutes.
When the ambulance finally arrived after passing us and needing to turn around, they didn’t know what the hell to do with us. They suctioned J’s mouth and my husband cut the cord through the window.
From here it gets less interesting. They wrapped up the babe and I rolled myself onto a stretcher, suddenly shivering uncontrollably from head to toe with nerves and shock and because it was 10 degrees outside. We rode the ambulance to the hospital and my husband followed in the car. He used a rag to clean off the seat and the car was no worse for the wear. The ambulance ride threw our bill over the edge, which was frustrating especially considering we could have made it to the hospital much faster if we had just kept driving.
I needed an IV and Pitocin when I got to the hospital from total dehydration and so that I could deliver the placenta. This involved the doctor sticking his hand up my vagina and yanking it out. Ouch. I had a few stitches. After that? I felt great. There was just one nurse in the room who asked me all the questions you usually get asked upon arrival, versus the 14 doctors, nurses, students, and family members who were present after my daughter was born. My husband ran home to relieve our friend. I called my mom to say, “I had the baby in the car.” I was not exhausted from hours of pushing or delirious from lots of drugs. J laid wrapped up, a perfect little warm bundle, in a bassinet.
We were the stars of the hospital. Does this happen to people? Not really, they said. We should have been guests on the Today show or at least gotten free diapers for a year.
In hindsight, the doctors said I either actually had a stomach bug that dehydrated me so and induced the labor, or, the bug was actually my body’s way of laboring.
I’m now about half way through my pregnancy with baby #3. Having previously delivered a baby in the car was almost the reason not to try for another baby, but I like to keep things as interesting as possible. My doctor assures that I’ll have another fast delivery and that I shouldn’t ignore any tiny feeling of any kind. I’m imagining 6 false alarms, followed by a perfectly timed arrival to the hospital, a glorious epidural, 2 easy pushes, and a perfect baby boy.
And then I’m never getting pregnant again.
Meet Julie K.