I get a lot of mail. Every now and then, you get one that you feel the need to share with your friends. And, every now and then you get one that you feel the need to share with the world wide web. This is one of those. It is a hoot and very touching.
(names and personal information have been changed although the photos are real)
I am the proud grandfather of Wade Eugene C, born February 21, 2010, to James and Michelle C, in a 2009 Ford F-150 while en route to the hospital. My son James and I are fans of Mike Rowe and his show. As a construction supervisor, James is extremely supportive of Mike’s promotion of the skilled trades. It just struck me that the story combined Mike’s Dirty Jobs show (child birth can be messy), the courage of a young working couple and Mike’s association with Ford pick-ups. James’ email is a little long, but it’s a great story:
I got off after a long day of work on Sunday 2/21/10 about 7:45 pm. Lately, I was in the habit of working late trying to get ahead a little to give myself some breathing room for when the new baby decided to come along. I got home and made a nice vodka with 3 olives over ice. I hadn’t chomped on the first olive when Michelle told me “I called my mom and she’s coming over.” “What?” I said. “I just started feeling some contractions, I think, right after you called so I called my mom. If it’s nothing she’ll just sleep over and go back home tomorrow morning.”
Sounded good, but darn. This was one of those days that I didn’t quite finish up the last thing I was working on betting on being able to finish it up the next day. Unfortunately I was preparing for a meeting the next morning and I needed to at least get my notes to a guy that would be at the meeting.
I quickly went to the home computer and attempted to load the CD. No spinning! “Why isn’t the disk drive spinning?” I thought suddenly agitated. Hmmm, then I remembered our 1-½ year old using it as a drink holder for his milk cup. “Bradley, that’s not for that. Here. Put it here on the table.” I had said. UGH. “Honey, I have to run this disk to Andy’s.” I called, “back in twenty minutes”. “So you think I have time to take a shower and blow dry my hair?” she asked. “Sure, I’ll be right back.” I raced over to Andy’s, dropped off the disk and returned to the house. Meanwhile, Grandma Julie had arrived. At some point Michelle had also put a batch of cookies in the oven. I walked into a home smelling of baking cookies, the sound of a hairdryer and an uneasy mother-in-law. “I don’t know nothin’ ’bout birthin’ babies!” Grandma nervously joked.
I asked Michelle if I had time to take a quick shower, she replied “sure” so I jumped in and out in what seemed to me like 2 mins. “How far apart are the contractions?” “I’m not sure. It’s kind of on-going.” She leaned over like one might lean over to puke. “OK” I said, “I think we need to go now.” I grabbed a few bags and started to pack while Michelle read off her list. “CD player?” “Got it.” I said. “I-pod?” “Got it.” “Snoogle?” “Done” “Camera?” “In the truck.” “OK, let’s go” she said. We left the house about 9:50pm.
I turned on the radio. Michelle tilted the seat way back and was breathing shallow and quick as we drove from the toll road to the turnpike then down the long stretch of highway. I started the relaxation dialogue. “Fill the balloon” I said. “Count to six going out, 1,2,3,4,5,6, and four going in 4,3,2,1.” She breathed in slowly, and then out but was having difficulty. “Fill the balloon.” She tried again. “Close your eyes and relax. Feel the relaxation flowing through your body. From your eyes to your cheeks, then your neck, then shoulders, arms, down to your abdomen….” She took another breath. I kept talking “Then down to your legs and upper thigh, calves and down to the soles of your feet.” “Oh no!” she said quietly as she turned on her side and took her seatbelt off. I held her hand. Shallow breathing again. “Just relax” I said as she put her seatbelt back on “Click” but held the belt away from her abdomen.
I knew I needed to keep calm and keep the relaxation dialogue going but started to feel exhilaration and terror creeping in. I changed the radio channel to get away from another commercial. I held onto her seatbelt and told her to put her hand on my arm. “Better I hold this and you hold me”. I unclenched her hand from the intruding belt and rested it on my forearm. “Call my mom and get my sisters number” she said. “What?” “Call my mom. I was supposed to call my sister when we left” she said grimacing. She gave me her phone and I dialed her sister. “Hello, we’re on the way to the hospital”. She peppered me with questions. “What happened? How far apart are the contractions?” I replied “Right on top of each other”. The ride seemed to be taking forever even though there were almost no cars on the road. I ended the call promising more information later. And then there was a sound like a very hungry stomach growling.
“My water just broke” Michelle said. “OK, no problem, we’re almost there” I said. The next stage had started but nothing we couldn’t deal with, right? We were on the way to the hospital. We were more than half way there. Some women went many hours before giving birth after their water broke. We were in the truck on the way to the hospital and at this point I’m thinking of nothing other than getting my truck to get to where we need to be before anything else happens without getting pulled over. “Officer, my wife’s water just broke! Punch those lights on and lead the way!” I imagined. “Oh boy!” The imaginary officer says. “Central, call ahead to the Hospital. We have one coming in! Follow me sir!” The imaginary cop car lights flashed as I followed close behind. Back to reality.
“OK, we’re coming up on Orange Avenue” I said. She shifted her body trying in vain to find a more comfortable position. We exited the Orange Avenue off ramp. A slow car in front of me caused my fist to clench the seatbelt I was holding away from Michelle. The one lane turned into two and I pulled alongside the putterer. There was a half mile to go before we were at the hospital valet. “I have to push.” Michelle says in a mildly strained voice. “OK, we’re almost there.” I looked both ways and stomped on the accelerator through the red light with confirmation from my imaginary police motorcade. My delusion allowed me to think the red light didn’t necessarily apply to us as long as we made an effort to be safe.
Suddenly there was a shimmying in the seat next to me. Feet on the dash, Michelle was removing her slacks. It was dark and there was new construction around us. The hospital, a noticeable complex with tell tale black windows covering cylindrical towers should be right here. I leaned in close to the steering wheel straining my neck and scanned the skyline for any sign of the black icon. I couldn’t help but to also shoot a glance over to my wife who was barely making a sound, looked back up to the road and the buildings for a second and back down to her. “I see the head!” I said. My eyes went back to the road and the buildings and saw the hospital. I looked back to my wife to see her pulling our baby up and gently spinning him to lay on her chest. Then the smallest sweetest little whimper filled the air and quickly grew into a strong cry. Exhilaration and relief. I pulled into the valet. “We’re ok.” she said. I reached back to the back seat to grab my jacket and covered the two of them before I unlatched my seat belt, got out, locked the door, bounded past the stander-bys, ran through the entrance, into the lobby, and right up to the front desk. The two unsuspecting receptionists looked up as I loudly announced “My wife is in my truck outside in the valet and she just delivered our baby! Right now!” Their eyes widened and one grabbed the front desk phone. “Use the red phone” the other said. She picked up the red phone immediately. “Dr. Apgar to valet. Dr. Apgar to valet.” The booming voice echoed throughout the hospital lobby.
“OK so I’ll be out at the truck – it’s a black Ford F-150” I said as I turned and started running back. Suddenly a door slammed open and a small army of pastel pajama people, some with white coats with name tags and others with stethoscopes, all ran together like the start of a road race to the valet. “The baby’s crying so he’s breathing!” I tell them as I remember the mock calls to 911 from my lifeguarding days. Michelle tried to lean up to open the door but I ran around to the drivers’ side and pressed the unlock button. “Are you OK?” I asked Michelle. “Yeah, we’re fine.” She said nodding. The group opened the door, one took the lead asking questions to Michelle while another handed her blankets. A nurse called to me, “Do you have your camera?” I was startled, but nodded. “Get the camera!” she said. I immediately grabbed the camera from the back seat and took a picture of the moment. Michelle was already smiling. “Here, let me do that for you” one of the nurses said. I gave her the camera. The audience was looking to me for some explanation of the situation but apparently was too polite to ask. “We turned down Orange after the off ramp and she said she had to push so I said well you better take your pants off!” A chorus of laughter. Explanation given. The doctor handed the baby wrapped in a blanket to one of the nurses so Michelle could be transferred to the gurney that suddenly appeared behind us. The camera nurse snapped away. The nurse with the baby handed Wade back to Michelle and another started to wheel Michelle towards triage.
My truck was still running. “You can leave your truck here, just take the keys out!” one of the nurses told me. I grabbed the keys and locked the door. I ran up to the gurney train and walked in with Michelle who was holding the baby. They took Michelle’s blood pressure and notified the next group to get the next room number. I called Michelle’s mom and told her that we just given birth in the truck. Disbelieving, she asked “Are you joking?” and then the phone went out. She tried to call back but couldn’t get through.
We rolled into the elevator and up to the delivery room. Michelle and I exchanged smiles and whispers of love and disbelief. “What happened?” we said to each other smiling and jokingly. We did everything we would have done, it just so happened we didn’t make it out of the truck. “At least we went by the birth plan.” Michelle said. No anesthesia, no inducing drugs, no I.V., no episiotomy, no C-section, no unnecessary interventions. We talked and laughed and kissed and made phone calls. Soon I went back down to the truck and returned with the cookies that Michelle made for the nurses and they loved her for it.
Michelle and I have talked many times about what happened and more so after talking to other people about the experience and answering all the questions. We never felt wrong about what we were doing just that what was going to happen was happening sooner than we thought it would. We both had one singular thought of getting to the hospital and since we were so close (within ½ mile) when the urge to push came, neither of us wanted to pull over and stop the truck. We felt if we would have stopped, we would be in the same position except stopped in a dark parking lot less than half a mile from the hospital and waiting for an ambulance. I had full confidence in Michelle and she had full confidence in herself with what she could do, not that we expected this to happen!
In the end, I have to defer to my amazing wife and give her all the credit due. She is an amazing and powerful woman, and I am just happy that she was the one in the situation sitting in the truck next to me that night. I love her so much for being herself and for what she was able to do. I love you Michelle.