In a picture album my mother put together for me, on the very first page, is a big hospital photo of me that as my mom once said looked like the Late Mayor Daley (of Chicago) with a crew cut. Next to that is the newspaper clipping of my birth announcement.
It reads like any other – Mr. and Mrs. blah blah blah welcome daughter blah blah…born en route to the hospital in the back seat of a Mercedes Benz, blah blah…wait, what?
Yes, I entered the world in memorable style.
See, my mother had a history of fast labors. Her first two went quickly, so one would have assumed the third (me) would too. Except she was overdue and I was breech. Her doctor said “Oh, don’t worry, it will be a long labor.” The doctor was wrong. So very wrong.
We lived about a half an hour away from the hospital my mother’s doctor was at. To get there, we had to cut through four towns. When my mother went into labor with me, it was of course the middle of the night. My grandparents were called, one to drive, one to stay with my brothers. My grandfather’s car was the last one in the driveway so that’s the one that was chosen.
I’m very glad now they chose my grandfather’s car. It was a 1970 olive green Mercedes. I have no clue what my parents were driving, but it couldn’t have been as cool as the Mercedes. My grandfather was also a Chicago policeman, and drove like one that night. What should have taken a half an hour took about half the time to drive. Despite the fact it was sleeting and icy out.
Now imagine a Mercedes being driven like it just left a bank robbery racing through the south side of Chicago at 1:30 in the morning. Of course a police officer is going to think something odd is going on. However, the police officer behind the wheel with a woman in active labor wasn’t going to stop. So more police cars were called in on the chase.
Yes, that’s right – there was a trail of police cars chasing us. About a block from the hospital, my grandfather finally stopped…because they had put up a road block.
My grandfather, when he would tell this story, told of how the one cop came swaggering up to his window, all cocky, and said to my grandfather sarcastically “Did ya know you were speeding?”
My grandfather’s response? “Damn well we’re speeding! She’s having a baby back there!” Because at this point, my mom is pushing.
The cop loses his attitude, flips out and says “Follow me!” The chase turns into a police escort. The whole circus parade of cars pull up to the hospital’s ER entrance where – as my mom stated – you had never seen so many panicking men. They grabbed the first doctor they could – a female doctor just coming off her shift, who had parked in the ER parking lot on a fluke that day. The doctor helped finish delivering me there in the back seat of the Mercedes. I was 9 pounds 7 ounces, born breech, both feet first (a fact the doctor tried to argue with my mother, who finally said “I was there, you weren’t!”, end of argument.) Because I wasn’t born in a sterile hospital enviroment, my germy newborn self wasn’t allowed in the nursery with all the nice clean babies. Instead, I was given my own room, which my grandparents loved because they could visit me more easily.
Go figure, my mom chose to have a home birth with her next pregnancy.