It was a cool June morning on what would turn out to be a warm June day. My wife, K, was 4 days away from her estimated delivery date, but the midwives had warned us it was just that: an estimate. “Babies come when they’re ready, not by the mark on the calendar” we were told repeatedly by both our medical providers and well-meaning loved ones.
I had woken up at about 5:30 in the morning, ready for my day to start. We had taken a walk around 6:00, as that was well before we had kids who made sleeping in until 7:00 mandatory with their constant wakings. When K had woken up shortly after me she had noticed some increase in her contractions, and on our walk that morning she had half-joked that “Hey, maybe this evening we’ll be parents!” Being first time parents, we knew it was going to be a long labor. You don’t know what you don’t know.
An hour later she was howling on the toilet with intense contractions. We had called our doula, who was about 15 minutes away. 5 minutes later the contractions were so bad we called our midwives, who were about a 45 minute drive, and they said to go to the clinic immediately. Still thinking we had all day for this kid to be born, I calmly but quickly grabbed our bags and took them to the car. By this point it took all my wife’s strength simply to crawl away from the toilet and make it to the door. I backed the car to the closest spot to our apartment and had to help her carry her to the car in between contractions.
About 5 minutes later I was taking the on ramp to the highway, and my wife says “I don’t think we’re going to make it to the clinic”. Being the cool-headed rational person that I am, I reassured her that as a first time mother she had nothing to worry about, we’d be seeing our baby in a couple hours at the clinic.
5 minutes after that (or maybe it was 10, time flies when you have a screaming pregnant woman in the back of the car), I hear K shout “oh my god you have to pull over, I feel the baby crowning!” At that point, already being in the fast lane, I pull the car over as quickly and safely as I can on the side of a major 4-lane highway just outside of Baltimore. Did I mention this was at 7:30 am during morning rush hour?
As I hope out of the drivers seat and pull open the rear drivers side door I see K with her legs up and holy shit there is a baby’s head popping out of her! I reach under the shoulders as K gives one big final push (god she made it look so easy!) and I grab the baby into my arms. I’m a bit overwhelmed when I realize I’m holding a slimy baby still attached with the umbilical cord on the side of the highway. I hand the baby back to K and realize I need to get some help, as I can’t find my phone in the chaos of the delivery. I stand for what seems like 5 minutes (in reality it was probably about 1 minute) trying to wave someone to pull over and stop. Luckily a kind Samaritan pulls over and I word vomit “Hi can you call 911 my wife just delivered our baby on the side of the road”. He was surprised but said “Yes, of course!” I check in on K, and when I peek back out he walks up to me and says “An ambulance is on its way. Is everyone okay?” I tell him yes, mother and baby are fine and he relays that back to 911 dispatch. When he’s off the phone he comes up to me and says, with a big smile on his face, “I have to go, but congratulations. I have 3 kids myself and being a parent is one of the most wonderful things on this earth”. I thank him (profusely) and I get back into the car to wait for the ambulance while he drives off.
I hopped back in the car to check up on K and wait for the ambulance to arrive. It was then that I realized we hadn’t checked the baby’s sex yet. “Wait a second,” I asked K, “is it a boy or a girl?” She holds you up and exclaims “It’s a girl! Welcome to the world, Eliza Rey!”
A few minutes later the ambulance and a fire engine arrived (fun fact, fire engines and trucks are often used to just block traffic for the ambulances so that the EMTs are protected from errant drivers). They were happy to see us; I think it’s rare that they get to a delivery AFTER its happened, and a healthy delivery at that. I got many high-fives and “congratulations” from the EMTs/paramedics as they helped K and E get ready to transfer to the ambulance. K has also managed to grab her camera in the chaos and was snapping pictures of our unique experience when one of the EMTs volunteered to take some of the pictures. Proof:
Once K and E were loaded in the ambulance, I hopped back in the car and followed them to the hospital. As I was cleaning up the byproducts of automobile delivery (luckily we planned ahead, and all I really did was toss some towels and blankets into a garbage bag) I found my phone covered in newborn baby goo. After some quick wipes on the towel and an overnight stay on the hospital bedroom’s AC unit, it worked good as new. K got stitched up and I got then we got to spend most of the day snuggling E and calling all our family members. Half of them couldn’t believe our story, but luckily we had the pictures to prove it.
And that is the story of how I delivered my daughter on the side of the highway — one of the best days of my life.
I am a Father, Husband, Cowboy Philosopher, Volunteer Firefighter, and Professional Dilettante. I am nothing and I am everything. But when it comes to our relationship: I only wish you wonder and happiness.