THE SONIC BOOMER
I had been pacing around for nine months and three days, waiting for my daughter Jen to have her second child, when my son-in-law Greg came bursting into the room with, “We’re going to have a baby! This is the night!” I grabbed my purse, but he said, “No, no. Not yet. We’ll let you know when.” I hunkered down, biting my nails. The time was 1 a.m.
There had been a false alarm last week when I heard the garage door go up in the middle of the night and thought they were leaving without me. I tore downstairs to find Greg taking out the garbage. He looked at me funny. “We’ll let you know when,” he said.
At 6 a.m., he breezed past me with, “We gotta go!” and Jen followed shortly behind, looking like someone who was definitely not taking out the garbage. I sat anxiously on the front stoop with her while we waited for Greg to bring the car around. Jen was moaning, “Where is he?” in between contractions.
At 6:10 a.m., Greg brought the car around. He had stopped to write a “Wish us luck!” message for his staff (he works from home) and a “We love you!” message for his two-year-old (who also works from home).
I knew we were in trouble when Jen spat out an expletive when Greg stopped for the light at the entrance to the highway. He went through it, as per her direction, traffic cameras flashing. “We’ll know what time we were here when the ticket arrives,” he said cheerfully.
“Mom,” he said, reaching over into the backseat. “Take my phone. You’ll see I am using an app that times each contraction. Press the button at the top when it starts and the one at the bottom when it…”
“It’s too late for that!” Jen screamed, loud enough to make Greg drop the phone. I rummaged around for it on the floorboards and, once I found it, noticed that Jen’s contractions were three minutes apart the last time they’d been logged. “Call 911,” I said. “We’re not going to make it.”
The good people at 911 dispatched a fire engine, two ambulances and three police cars to try to reach us in time. And they did their best, but we were a moving target — a speeding, law-breaking target.
“I feel the head,” Jen announced quietly, with the calm that comes over a person once they realize the Titanic is sinking and there is nothing to do about it.
The people at 911 had good advice. “Pull over,” they told Greg.
“No!” Greg replied.
I was with him. Neither he nor I wanted to deliver a baby in the front seat of that small (energy-efficient but really small) car. As for Jen, she had her pants off.
The hospital was in sight. Not her hospital — the one for high risk moms; the one with all her medical information and doctors; the one she and Greg had toured together with their first child so he would feel at home visiting his new sister. Not that hospital. But I liked this one. You know what I liked about it? Its proximity.
Too bad Greg missed the exit.
He made a sharp U-turn during which Jen offered to kill him right there with her bare hands.
By the time we got to the emergency room, the staff was outside with a wheelchair. But once they saw that little head, they called for a stretcher and a doctor. When the doctor ran outside, they were in the midst of debating whether they should try to make it the 100 feet into the building or deliver the baby right there in the driveway. The doctor got them inside.
Forgotten (and perfectly happy to be so), I stood in the hallway while 16 people told Jen to push. They didn’t have to ask her twice. Two pushes and Celeste Noelle was born.
The drive had taken eight minutes. The birth, four. Mother and baby are doing fine.
The next day, I asked Jen what she had been thinking. “Everyone told you the second child comes faster,” I said.
“I know,” she said. “But I didn’t believe them.”
Expectant parents, take note.