ok so maybe it takes a story like this to start a blog. There have been lots of requests for the story and I’ve told it 50 times in 50 different ways. Sorry if this is too long but I thought I’d write this down with some detail so I don’t forget. I’m a better story teller than a writer so when you read use lots of inflection and hand gestures.
Act 1 – The buildup
5:00AM – So it all began early Monday morning. Megan was having contractions during the night but she wasn’t worried. They were far enough apart (10 minutes) and this being her third child I trust her motherly instincts.
7:00 – I leave for work. On the way out, she tells me she “might go today” so be ready. I’m not sure how I can be anymore ready. I’ve been driving around with the baby seat in the back for 4 weeks and Megan’s suitcase has been packed for 5 days. Its not in the car but its ready to throw in the toiletries and go. Thank god Megan’s parents are in town. They’ve been a huge help, especially with Hadley and Eloise. With them here, the plan was for megan’s dad to drive her to my work and for me to take her to the hospital. That seemed like a reasonable plan to us, but Piper had different plans
Act 2 – The first leg
9:00 – We live in Laguna Beach now and we’ve been here for about 4 months. Some of you may not know that but I took over a technology staffing company called KoreOne. I work in Newport Beach which is a 20 minute commute north on PCH. The main hospital in Orange County is Hoag Hospital and its a 25 minute drive from our place in Laguna. Early that morning, Megan and her mom took Eloise for her 2 year check up with her pediatrician in Laguna. Everything is fine and Eloise is healthy. So far its another perfect day in paradise.
10:00 – A little after 10, Megan called me and said she was having more contractions. I told her to get in the car but she didn’t want to be stuck at the hospital for too long. Again this isn’t her first rodeo so I’m not pushing her.
10:45 – By this time the contractions were coming quicker and Megan knew it was time to go. Tom and Megan threw the suitcase and pillows in the car and drove to fashion island in Newport Beach where I work. On the way she called her doctor and said that she was having contractions 3 minutes apart. She told the doctor she was on the way to the hospital. When she got to Crystal Cove, about half way there, she told me it was time and that I should be out front ready to go. When she got to my office, her dad tossed her bag and pillows into my cart. Then he was off to help Megan’s mom Madonna with the kids. There was one problem though, getting out of her car and into mine, her water broke. We laid a towel on the front seat and she got in. I jumped in the driver’s seat and one word from her said it all…”DRIVE.”
Act 3 – The second leg
11:13 – So the question is do I drive fast or do I try to keep her comfortable? We leave the parking lot and of course I panic and pick the exit that has the most speed bumps. Megan is visibly concerned with her condition but very rational. By the time we get onto PCH, she has called her doctor 8 times…busy signals. It didn’t really matter, the only reason she was calling was to tell the doctor to call the hospital and get them ready for us. Little did she know that she wouldn’t be making it to the hospital. I realize now why doctors voice mails say “if this is an emergency, hang up and call 911.” Sometimes we all need a reminder that yes this really is happening and its an emergency.
11:16 – Megan hangs up and dials 911. By this time we are on PCH and I’m cruising. She gets 911 on the phone and the woman asks what town she’s in. Megan thinks that’s a stupid question and orders her to call the hospital to prepare them for an emergency birth when we arrive. Then megan has a big contraction. She sticks the phone in my face and says you talk to her. So now I’m talking on Megan’s phone and driving down PCH. Megan reclines the passenger seat and lays back. At this point, I’m just hoping she’s comfortable. I continue to convince the lady at 911 that we are just 2 minutes from the hospital. I want her to call the hospital and she wants me to pull over. Really we were more like 5 minutes away. I don’t always listen well so I don’t think it’s good idea to pull over. In the background, I hear Megan say, “I can’t believe I’m going to have this baby in this car.”
11:18 – With those words, the 911 lady says “PULL OVER SIR, YOU ARE ENDANGERING THE LIFE OF YOUR WIFE AND CHILD AND WE CAN’T FIND A MOVING CAR.” That works on me. I’m a determined SOB but I’m not going to endanger my girls. So just as I decide to pull over I find myself on a bridge. When I get over the bridge, I pull over in an area that is big enough for a bus to stop. Its a perfect location. The dispatcher from 911 tells me to look around for a cross road. I see a street sign behind me for Dover. I tell her I’m at Dover and PCH. She says great, help is on the way. Then she says something that sent shivers down my spine “don’t worry, I’m going to walk you through this”
Act 4 – The arrival
11:20 – Trust me, you don’t want to hear the words “don’t worry, I’m going to walk you through this” from a 911 dispatcher or an air traffic controller. It means you have to do something your not prepared or trained to do. In my right ear, without pause the 911 dispatcher tells me to tell Megan to breathe. In my left ear Megan is telling me to help her get her underwear off. I help her with her underwear and tell her to breathe. This much I remember from Lamaze class 4 years ago, but that’s about the only thing I remember. Megan breathes and to be totally honest, she looks calm. Then the dispatcher tells me to reach down and see if I can feel the baby’s head. Now remember, I’m in the driver’s seat of the car and the car is still running. I’m holding Megan’s cell phone in my right hand and with my left hand I’m touching the top of my daughters head.
11:21 – I know what’s coming next, in fact I knew from the moment I conceded and pulled the car over. The dispatcher says, ok you need to deliver this baby. At the next contraction you need tell your wife to push. I look at Megan and I say, “she wants you to push at the next contraction”. Megan says ok and the dispatcher goes on to instruct me that when she pushes, I need to put pressure where the baby comes out to reduce the risk of tearing. I do what I’m told, but Megan doesn’t like this. She says “WHY ARE YOU PUSHING BACK, I’M TRYING TO GET THIS BABY OUT“. I tell her that I’m just doing what the lady asked me to do. I still don’t remember if it was the first second or third push but in a matter of seconds, I’m holding Piper’s head with her body still inside. If this hasn’t been scary enough, I notice that the cord is still wrapped around her neck and the baby is not breathing.
11:23 – I remember the baby not breathing part from the first two girls. As soon as that baby’s head is out, the doctors pull the body out and work fast to clear the baby’s lungs and get that first big cry out. The nurses and doctors gasp in relief and smile with that first cry. But there are no nurses and no doctors. If I pull Piper’s body out I’m worried it will just tighten the cord. I hear the sounds of an ambulance and I know help is coming, but we’re talking about breathing. At this point, I thought this might not end well. I’ve heard of babies and mothers dying during child birth and a blue baby with a cord wrapped around its neck is not good. I tell the dispatcher and she says I need to get that cord from around her neck. At that moment, the passenger car door opened. One of the EMT’s took the baby and in one motion pulled her body out and unwrapped the cord from around Piper’s neck and in a matter of seconds, Piper was crying and in Megan’s arms. The EMT’s obviously had the “baby emergency kit” as they used the suction bulb to clear Piper’s nose and throat, they used the scissors to cut the cord and clamps to tie off the two loose ends of the cord. There were 5 or 6 EMTs in all, but I definitely remember Steve Martin, that’s right Steve Martin. He was the first on the scene. He cleared the cord from Piper’s neck and saved my daughters life.
Act 5 – The aftermath
11:28 – After some calming discussions with the EMTs, my 911 friend tells me you did great, congratulations you’re a dad. I still need to find out who she is but I’m working on that. Megan was holding Piper and nursing her within seconds. At that point, I started crying…yep, crying like a sissy. I was pretty shaken up and it all came pouring out. It didn’t take long to get my composure and within a couple minutes we were in the back of the ambulance going to the ER. I don’t think they see many newborns in the ER so it created quite a commotion. It seemed like the whole ER was huddled around our bed. After a quick consultation with the ER doctor we were off to labor and delivery to deliver the placenta. Yep, the cord was still hanging out and the placenta needed to come out too. Having left my car on the side of the highway, I was pleased when Captain Glenn of the EMT’s showed up with a valet ticket. Not only did he drive the car to the hospital for us but he brought it to a nearby car wash to have the front seat detailed. Luckily we had a towel down so the seats look good as new. Next time you’re in the area I’ll take you for a spin in the birth mobile.
On Sunday, the day before Piper was born, we all went to St Catherine’s in Laguna Beach for mass. We were glad that she had not been born during Eloise’s birthday party the day before. Father Eamon was nice enough to invite us up to the altar and give us a blessing of St Catherine. We needed all the blessings we could get. It took god, our mystery 911 dispatcher and Newport Beach’s finest to make this a happy ending.