We were being chased by the cops in Alaska. Or rather, my husband who was driving the truck, was being chased by the police. I, on the other hand, was too busy giving birth to my daughter in the front seat to even notice. We were driving down the highway on a clear polar night. The sun was still shimmering at 3:30 in the morning as it does during Alaskan summers. With my right leg hitched high up on the dash, I knew this baby would be coming out with the next contraction. Her head was crowning. I positioned my hands below the seat to catch her before she slipped onto the floor.
Only 25 minutes earlier, I had been sleeping soundly in my bed when awakened by a loud pop and sharp pain. Half asleep, I knew instantly that my water had broke. Shaking James awake, I told my sleepy husband it was time for the hospital. He groggily fell out of bed and mumbled that he needed to take a shower. I gave him an eye roll as I waddled my big belly down to the truck to wait for him.
By the time I was in the driveway, my pains were intensifying and I struggled to even stand. I was startled by a dark shadow shuffling low nearby. A mother moose and her calf who had been sleeping by the nearby tree looked annoyed but then settled down with lazy, disinterested stares. Instead of harassing me for being near her calf she probably sensed my predicament, took pity and decided not to make a fuss.
Ten minutes down the road my contractions were on top of each other in wave after wave of undulating, unrelenting pain. I could even feel my pelvic bones shifting as the baby moved her way down the canal. There was no break for relief, no time to catch my breath to help wash away the pain. I just surrendered to it and hoped we would be at the hospital soon.
It seemed like it was taking forever to get there. We were only to the town of North Pole, halfway to Fairbanks. I looked over at the speedometer. He was only going 60. “Drive faster!” I pleaded between contractions, trying to catch my breath. I started to panic. “The baby is coming NOW. Who cares if you get a speeding ticket!” I started unbuttoning my pants. James looked over with confusion. I think this is when he started waking up. He picked up the speed.
Realizing the baby would be born in the car, I knew that I needed to take off my pants or the baby would be literally stuck in my jeans. So I started stripping as James continued to race down the road. He looked over at me with a confused expression. “Honey,” he implored, “just wait ’til we get to the hospital.”
Then red and blue lights flashed behind us and the police chase was on. “We can’t stop,” I said, “The baby is on its way. Keep going!” James gunned the gas and we zoomed at break neck speeds to the hospital with the cops tailing from behind.
I had an overwhelming instinct to push. My pain-addled brain thought if I could just push once now I could just wait and push the rest of the baby out later. So I pushed and then the baby’s head crowned. So much for that strategy. James looked over from the driver’s seat looking green and distraught.
The baby slipped out with the next contraction. Catching her with my hands, I pulled her to my chest. Along with the umbilical cord and everything else that comes with delivering babies, it was a slippery maneuver indeed. She made a small cry and then laid on my chest seemingly very content . There was a minute of quiet while we took in the moment of our daughter’s birth in the half light of the Alaskan night. She was serene and calm.
“Hey, you just had a baby!” James said incredulously, half crying, half laughing while still trying to keep an eye on the road. We had just reached the town of North Pole. “I know,” I said, looking into my baby’s calm, quiet eyes. “You can just turn around now and go home. All the hard the work is done.”
He didn’t hear me but kept on until we finally arrived at the emergency room where he jumped out to find some help. As I waited in the truck, the police car pulled up behind us. The cop came to my window warily and took one look at the baby on my chest. With the curly umbilical cord still attached and blood everywhere, I am sure it looked alarming. Without saying a word, the cop turned and ran into the emergency room for help.
Finally the attendants came out, whisked us up to the labor ward where the baby checked out in perfect health. She became a minor celebrity in our small town for a few weeks. Her name is Lillie-Mac and she’s a fire cracker always in a hurry, just as she was when she entered this world.