Today I delivered my daughter in the back seat of our Toyota Rav4 on the side of I-75.
God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.
2 Timothy 1:6
Sarah’s contractions had started enough to keep her from getting a solid sleep, all night sleep, but not enough to keep her from getting a good sleep. That morning she was having some contractions but they were short, 30–45 seconds, and not intense, she could function through them. We stuck with our typical routine and got our son started on breakfast. I work remote, out of a home office, and so I went to my office after making my coffee and a bagel like usual. I had several phone calls about different tasks that needed completed soon and came out with some solid plans on how to proceed. I just needed to act on them, but the morning seemingly flew by. Before I knew it, 11:45am was here. I walked downstairs to decide about lunch and, as usual, had forgotten there were a ton of leftovers in the fridge from our feast Sarah had fixed the day before. As I’m starting to get lunch out I hear Sarah and our son on the back porch. I quickly went to the restroom and as I’m returning, I hear Sarah yelling at our son to stop. Stepping out back, I see her carrying this not quite 2 year old back toward the back door because he’s been stubborn and tried to go where she didn’t want him to. On her face is the look of a contraction. They’ve gotten stronger. I take the tornado inside and set him down, crying because he’s not getting his way. I setup the stuff to cut my hair and Sarah walks in. She says her contractions are getting more intense but doesn’t really think it’s time to leave. I cut my hair, clean up. I notice that her contractions are getting more serious. I suggest she call her Mom, missing the vital point that she should also have her come. Oh and call the midwife too. Midwife didn’t answer. It’s 12:30 and they’re probably at lunch. Her mom says to let her know what the midwife says. I wished her mom would just come on, but it won’t be long before the midwife should be back. Besides, our boy is eating now and I’m trying to get a few bites in as well. He’s also sleepy and so it will work well if I can get him down for a nap before his Mamaw comes to watch him and we leave. I finish eating and the midwife answers. Come on, they say, but not feeling urgent. You think you can make it? That’s the plan, I answer. Sarah says, “I mean, it hurts, but I can still talk”. Her contractions start getting more serious, but she’s still talking through them, not walking through them. I get E down for a nap and Mamaw is on her way. Sarah get in the car, I request of her. I’m grabbing things to put into the car, but she’s not made it there yet. Mamaw isn’t there yet either. My third request is much more urgent, I need you to get into the car now. I need you to calm down, she answers. I guess that means she doesn’t feel like it’s that imminent. I feel differently, but I trust what I think she’s hearing from her body. She gets into the car, thick towel under her in the seat and a spare in the front, but Mamaw hasn’t made it yet. Mamaw arrives soon after that, but what seemed like an hour. We head to the hospital which is an hour and 45 minutes away. I notice we’re on a quarter of a tank of gas and the car says 108 miles left on the tank. We only need 75ish, but after making it to almost I-75, it’s down to 85 miles. I’m not sure how many miles we’ve driven, but I’m not up for taking the chance, so I stop to get gas. How silly would it be to run out of gas and have the baby on the side of the road, I think. Realizing that it would be even more foolish to not get gas and not be able to make it to a hospital at all. The light turns in our favor, we find an open pump quickly but backward, and we’re back on the road in as quickly as it would seem possible. Sarah urges me to hurry, so I speed. You might get a ticket, I think, but then maybe we’ll get a police escort and get there more quickly. Either way, I’ll take the chance, because I’d rather not have this baby in the car. At this point, I’ve called my boss to let him know we’re on the way and my brother because they had been on a trip and I wasn’t sure when they were supposed to return. Turns out they were in Cincy and not far from Lexington. I tell them that’s where we’re going and they plan to meet us there. We pass the second hospital on the list of backup hospitals. I can feel that she’s laboring, but it doesn’t seem like it’s ever really as bad as the first time when she had to be induced. I hear her water break. Soon after it, she exclaims, “MY WATER BROKE!”. Again, been there before. Last time her water broke and 12+ hours later she had to be induced. “Ok, do you need me to stop?” I ask. “(one of those forever pauses)…No”. Bearing down and just trying to make it Berea, but I can tell her laboring has REALLY picked up, so I ask if we need to stop at Berea? She doesn’t think so. I see her pull her pants down and hope that it’s only in preparation as we get to the hospital, which is still more than 30 minutes out. Seemingly hours later but probably only minutes we’re headed up a long hill were the interstate to goes from 2 to 3 to 4 lanes so the trucks can make it up this long drudging hill. I’m in the left hand lane and going…let’s just leave it at fast. “SHE’S COMING! PULL OVER!”, Sarah yells. For a split second I hesitate, because it feels unreal. Through all this fast interstate driving, I had thought about having to deliver in the car. I had even recalled in our Bradley method class before our first kid about how that happens sometimes and if you’re the one that has to stop to help that you can pull your, corny in my eyes, card out and show people you’re qualified. I start trying to plan my route to the side of the road. Even though I’m in the far left lane, I don’t want to pull over on the left. “PULL OVER!!”, she says it again. She must have thought I didn’t think she was serious. I see an opening between the traffic and more importantly the trucks in the far right lane. I make a quick dash for the right lane, quickly check the side of the road, and then pull off. All the while trying to be careful to not go or stop too quickly for her sake. As I’m pulling on the side of the road she’s hitting a birthing contraction and screaming at the top of her lungs. I know I need to stop quickly and get back there to assist her. I still haven’t really decided WHAT I’m going to do. I come to a complete stop and jump out of the car as her contraction subsides. I don’t remember what she’s saying, but that she’s generally urging me that she’s about to come. I see the head. Still between contractions, I reach to get my phone to try to call the midwife. Before I can make it to the dialer, another contraction starts. Well, the calling the midwife plan just went out the door. What now? God gives me the memories of how it all happened the first time. Seeing the head peak. Push when the contraction hits. I remembered that our midwife didn’t, or couldn’t not sure which, get our first child out with one push much but more like 3 or 4. However, she was also trying to do what was best for Sarah’s body. I’m not that confident because I don’t know how long is ok to be in the birth canal. They didn’t teach us that in Bradley and I never thought to ask. So…I tell her to push, meaning to her comfort level, but unable to convey that. And that I can still see the stop of her (the baby’s) head and now more of the head. I urge her to push more, invoking my missing birth canal knowledge. Out comes the head. I tell Sarah that the head is out, but I go blank. What next? How long can we wait? Unsure I tell her to push again when she can for fear that it might choke her if we wait too long. Seconds, or maybe a minute, later she pushes again and out she comes. I do my best to catch her. I pass our newly born baby girl between her mother’s legs so she can sit down to hold her. She had been in the back seat, on her knees, facing backward, the entire ride. Now turned around and holding our daughter, I rush back to the front seat to call the midwife. She reminds us of kangaroo care and to cover her with a blanket. “You’re about 15 minutes away?” she’s asks. “More like 30”, I respond but not realizing it was actually even a little more than that according to Google Maps. She says to come on to the hospital and she’d be there waiting. I get Sarah in full kangaroo care mode and speed off. Not usually a man of many tears, I’m emotional now. “Did you decide on a middle name?” I ask her. We had been discussing for weeks but hadn’t come to a decision. There were several we were weighing on. “Grace. I think that sounds appropriate.” she says, “Does that mean come quickly? Maybe we need to look up a name that means that instead”. I knew what she meant but Grace seemed perfect. Named after, not only what God offers us all, what God has just given us. I call a Dr friend and mentor, who’s clearly floored at the situation, and ask him to pray. He’s delivered babies before. I call my mother-in-law because, in the rush, we’ve forgotten the car seat and I don’t want to forget to remind her. I don’t tell her what just happened, for her sake. We’re just getting to Berea and I decide that I need to call the midwife again. It seemed like it’s going to be a long time before we made it to Lexington and she had mentioned before we could stop in Richmond if needed. Richmond wasn’t on the list of backup hospitals that I had in mind, but she tells us to go there. We’re less than 10 minutes out at this point and I call the hospital asking them to prepare for us. I call my brother, not realizing that he didn’t know the baby was here yet but more to let him know we had decided to stop in Richmond. He knows now. We pull in at the emergency room and there’s one nurse out talking to the nurse behind the glass. She realizes I’m the dad she’s looking for. I walk back to the car and see an army of nurses descending on the car as another nurse is telling me to go to the other entrance. I back the car up and they get Mother and Baby out, all 9lbs 4.5oz of her. Everyone is healthy. Then, the comments start rolling in.
The nurse army that were there to greet us at the emergency room were all amazed. One hugged me. Nerves of steel, some said. Hero, said others. Add that to your list of qualifications, said another. You should go into this full-time, chimed another.
While texting different people the quick version of what happen, I got responses like: Seriously? Wow. Amazing. This is a story for the ages. Woah in the car??! Wow! Omg. Is everyone ok? Lol. Wow. Are you serious?
Telling people to their face? Some NEEDED to sit down. Others jaw dropped in disbelief. Shut up, you guys did that (with a surprised look)? Dad of the year, I was called once.
I kept thinking, do you all not realize that Sarah is the one that carried the life inside of her for 9 months. She’s the one that was dealing with the pain of the curse of childbirth. She’s the one that was putting up with my insanely fast driving. She’s the one that had to make the hard decisions of when to leave for the hospital (that was 1.5 hours away) and when to decide to stop of the side of the road because her water had broken not minutes before. She’s the one who had to put her faith in me that I could help her through this. What did I do? Catch our baby girl, give her to her Mother to hold and keep warm, and keep driving. Which of those steps were special? Catching a baby? Hardly seems like anything special in comparison to me.
The truth? I didn’t need to be fearful, timid, scared, or any of those types of adjectives. Why? Because God, Jesus Christ who came in the flesh to teach us how to walk in this life, DID NOT give or teach us fear. But what did He give us all access to? Power, the strength to fully complete the task, do it well, and with confidence. Love, with the right attitude and actions. Not with a stressful snap or yell. Not with physical, emotional, or physiological abuse, but with gentleness, soft words, a kind heart, and tenderness. Finally, a sound mind, the ability to make quick, smart decisions based on the knowledge that he’s given us previously (if we listen).
So are the above assessments of me accurate? I might argue that we were ignorant (for not knowing better than to leave earlier or birth closer), stupid (because we SHOULD have known better), or even foolish (for knowing better, not acting different, and also acting recklessly in the process), but then we wouldn’t have had an amazing experience of truly bringing a child into the world and the blessing that it is. However, the better question to me: is God happy with my actions today? I feel that I can, with confidence, say that He is. And that is what matters to me. However, when I reflect on it, I believe that what he really said was, “That was the easy part my son. Now you must make her my disciple and baptize her in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teaching her to obey all the commands I have given you. And don’t forget, I’m always with you and ready to help”.
Today, I did not take the spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind. I pray that tomorrow, and everyday forward, I can do the same. Always being prepared to take on whatever lies before me.
Thank you Jesus for your love and our new life.