“He’s coming!” Tara screamed from the backseat. The grunting that followed seemed to indicate that she wasn’t just messing with me. Well, I knew that already. Labor doesn’t leave a lot of mental capacity to mess with others.
“Ok, I need you to lift your chin and breath through your nose when you feel the urge to push. I’m parking the car now.” I said in a firm tone. I turned on the blinker and got in the right lane. We were only a half mile from the next exit. I really wanted to get off the freeway. The frontage road wasn’t the ideal place for a delivery but it was better than the shoulder of the freeway.
She grunted some more and moaned while I approached the exit ramp. Then she was taking quick shallow breaths. “Hurry!” She grunted out.
She began moaning again as I pulled into the shoulder of the frontage road. I put on my emergency lights and called the hospital.
Someone answered as I got out of the car.
“Hello, how ca-“
“My wife is delivering her baby right now and I’m in my car. Guide me.”
“Ok sir, I need you to pull over.”
I opened her door and climbed into he back seat. “Done. I’m in the back seat and…” I looked between Tara’s legs, “I can see the baby’s head. He’s crowning.”
“Ok sir, I need you to be prepared to catch the baby. Do you have towels or something soft to catch the baby with?”
I reached to the floor and tried to find the towels I’d planned to pack.
“Gah, I think I forgot them.”
“That’s ok sir, perhaps a shirt?”
I pulled off my shirt and held it in my hand. I put the phone on speaker and set it on the seat.
“Ok, I’m ready with the shirt.”
Tara started grunting again. I saw the baby’s head emerge a little more.
“That’s great honey,” I said. “I’m ready so push. I can see his head! I’m ready!”
Her grunting got louder and the baby’s head fully emerged. I held the shirt in my arms just under his head.
“His head is out!” I called to the phone.
The nurse’s calm voice answered. “Ok, now she needs to push again so his whole body can emerge.”
“Ok, honey,” I said to Tara, “This is it. One more big push.”
Tara clenched her teeth, her knuckles white as she held her knees and grunted again. The baby’s shoulders emerged. I grabbed him and held him as he came fully out.
“He’s out!” I said with a crack in my voice.
“Wonderful!” The nurse replied. “Wipe his face and make sure his airways are clear. Then place him on Mama’s bare chest.”
I used my shirt to wipe his face. I looked at his beautiful face. A little more blue than I’d like, but it was my son either way.
“No crying yet.” I said.
I waited a second longer. “Shouldn’t he be crying?”
“Sir, I need you to rub his back vigorously or pat his feet.” I rubbed his back and patted it.
He coughed. That was a relief! Then I heard that beautiful sound. My son’s first cry.
While I had helped the baby, Tara had pulled her shirt off. She reached out her arms and said, “Let me hold my baby.”
I handed the baby to her and she laid him between her breasts. He nuzzled there and I laid my shirt over both of them. The wet streaks down Tara’s cheeks matched my own.