Speed Racer: The Birth Story

May 22, 2008

The first contraction hit at 7:46 pm. I know this, because I checked the time. I was pretty sure that it was just more false labor, but still. One always hopes. So I checked the time, and then went back to eating my fajita.

Ten minutes later another contraction hit. Ow, I said to no one in particular. That hurt.

Was that one different? HBF asked. Is it time?

Probably not. I’ll just wait and see.

Eight minutes later I was doubled over. Emilia pulled out her doctor’s kit and held the stethoscope to my belly. Baby brother wants to come out now?

I don’t know sweetie.

HBF: Should we go in?

I don’t know. It might be another false alarm.

HBF: I think we should go in.

I don’t know. (*doubles over*)

HBF: Seriously.

Fifteen minutes later we were in the car, no thanks to me. I dawdled, even as the contractions sped up, reluctant to go in to the hospital and face another round of eye-rolling if these were, as I thought, just another bout of bad false contractions. HBF prodded and pushed until I relented and buckled into the passenger seat. We drove away at 8:26pm, just as another bad contraction hit.

And then another.

And another.

We were barely fifteen minutes from home – and still probably some thirty minutes from our downtown hospital – when it became apparent that whatever was happening was happening quickly. Very quickly. Since we’d left home, the contractions had gone from eight minutes or so apart to barely a minute apart to not apart at all. HBF called 911; 911 patched him through to an ambulance; the ambulance advised that we pull off the highway and wait for them.

HBF: Pull off and wait?



HBF: I really don’t think we have time to stop and wait.

Ambulance Dispatch: We can’t chase you down, sir.

HBF: Then I’ll just keep driving.

Mad vehicular dashes to hospitals with women in labor are usually played for laughs on film and television. Let me tell you: there is nothing funny about racing toward a hospital that seems to recede ever further into the horizon as you speed forward in excruciating pain, your body completely out of your control, medical disaster ever more imminent with every passing second. Even when the toddler in the back seat starts shouting MOMMY YOU NEED MEDICINE YOU NEED MY TOADSTOOL? it’s not funny. It’s stone-cold terrifying.

And when your body just starts bearing down and pushing and you cannot stop it and then you’re still like ten minutes away from the hospital and the baby starts shoving its way out of your parts and OMG YOU CAN FEEL IT COMING OUT? Then? Your mind kind of snaps.

(So does the mind of your husband, who at this point is simultaneously driving a speeding vehicle with one hand on the horn and the other trying to feel for baby’s head between your legs while shouting into his phone-headpiece to someone at the ER that the baby’s coming the baby’s coming you need to be ready when we get there!)*

We arrived at the hospital at about 9:05pm. At the wrong entrance. Which was locked. Sufficient banging and the luck of some random guy wandering through the lobby got us in, and much shouting from HBF brought the medical team that had been waiting for us running. I was already mid-delivery: the bag of waters was being involuntarily pushed out – intact – and the baby was crowning. Eleven minutes later, at 9:16pm – after much horror-movie-worthy screaming – Jasper was out.

90 minutes from start to finish of active labor. Eleven minutes after stepping out of the vehicle. Fourth degree tearing (borderline) requiring on-the-spot surgery which, you know, without epidural or spinal anaesthesia or anything more significant than local anaesthetic and an extra-strength Tylenol? Almost as hair-raising as the near in-vehicle delivery. Almost.

It was terrifying. The most terrifying experience of my life, bar nothing.

But still, still… after all that – there’s him. Big and hale and hearty and a joy – an infinite joy – to behold. Worth any measure of terror, worth any measure of pain.

And the best birthday present ever.


HBF broke, like, a zillion traffic laws, but he was a hero, he really was, getting us to the hospital in the nick of time. We found out immediately after the birth that we couldn’t have delivered Jasper safely without help – the cord was wrapped around his neck. There was, quite literally, not a second to spare. My mind snaps a little bit more every time I think about this. Which is why I’m going to try to not think about it anymore.

I bitch about the gods a lot, but someone or something was looking out for us. And for that – for everything – I am deeply, deeply grateful.

Now, am going to rest. Really.


Because you asked: he weighed 9 lbs 2 oz – just a hair under what the ultrasound indicated. Around 20 inches long with a VERY big head (and chubby cheeks with one dimple).

And Emilia was right there until the gory parts, at which point she was enlisted by nurses to help supervise the nursing desk until it was slightly less terrifying for her to enter the room. When she did rejoin us, she was all smiles – huge smiles – and bursting with pride for having helped bring her baby brother into the world.

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    Ms. Huis Herself May 23, 2008 at 8:02 am

    And I thought delivering after being in the hospital for less than an hour (and of course no time for an epidural) was bad, but that? Wow. I can only say again, “Wow!”

    Congrats to you all on Jasper, on Emilia becoming a big sister, and on getting to the hospital in the nick of time!

    Motherhood Uncensored May 23, 2008 at 8:05 am

    Lord woman. That is a story and a half. He definitely knew his “day!”

    xo — much rest to you!

    Shannon May 23, 2008 at 8:13 am

    Wow! I was terrified just reading that. OMFG you are my hero! Also, I love the name!

    Christine May 23, 2008 at 8:32 am

    oh. my. god.

    dude–this was a terrifyingly amazing story.

    you’re amazing, lady.


    Kelly May 23, 2008 at 8:36 am

    Tremendous story. Congratulations on your son, and all the insane work it took to get him here. A heckuva job!

    Syko May 23, 2008 at 8:42 am

    Jasper is HUGE! This kid could be an NFL linebacker already! One good thing about the big babies, they usually sleep longer between feedings.

    I thought I had a quick labor with #2 (2 hours 20 minutes) but you have topped anyone I know of. Still, I think I’d rather lie around the hospital awhile after a leisurely drive there.

    But it all ended well, healthy beautiful mama, healthy beautiful baby. Get some rest and then come back and tell us more details later, okay?

    nomotherearth May 23, 2008 at 8:42 am

    Man, I’m tense just reading that story! Thank the gods that everyone is okay. He’s beautiful, HBM, just un-freakin-believingly beautiful.

    metro mama May 23, 2008 at 9:00 am

    Holy crap! Hooray, HBF!

    I can’t wait to meet him.

    fidget May 23, 2008 at 9:02 am


    *clenches legs shut*

    that’s precisly my nightmare right there.. i live too far from the hospital

    Anonymous May 23, 2008 at 9:03 am

    That is one hell of a birth story! Get plenty of sleep, you awesome mommy you!

    SUEB0B May 23, 2008 at 9:16 am

    That is crazy!! From his beginning, I expect great things from Jasper.

    Jenny, the Bloggess May 23, 2008 at 9:34 am

    I have goosebumps. Seriously.

    Z May 23, 2008 at 9:36 am

    Now that’s a birth story you will always remember… And a good one to tell your sweet baby boy as he grows up and you need to remind him of all you’ve done for him! :)

    Seriously, I am in awe. Congratulations!

    ben May 23, 2008 at 9:37 am

    OMG that is freakin’ scary. (keeping the language clean in case the kids read the comments someday, before they realize I’m just a crusty old fart that doesn’t use clean language)

    Congrats on making it, and being well.

    Whirlwind May 23, 2008 at 9:38 am

    Wow, that must have been scary. it sounds like my labor with #2, only I was already at the hospital!

    Susan May 23, 2008 at 9:38 am

    AHH! My second was almost in the hospital parking lot, with the front desk secretary catching the baby. Dr arrived and wheeled me up running ER style teeling me “Don’t push-Don’t push” WTF and a cry for my mommy followed. In the room 9 min. and my dd was out. Congrats and this story will make a great wedding day anecdote.

    Lala May 23, 2008 at 9:39 am

    tears, that brought me to tears and not the 4th degree kind.

    Momma May 23, 2008 at 9:39 am

    Many tears from me while reading your story. I’m so happy you’re both healthy and safe. Congratulations, darlin. Rest up now, you have more than earned it.

    Amanda May 23, 2008 at 9:42 am

    Oh, Jasper, you renegade, you. Way to burst on to the scene.

    Good job to the mama, papa and big sister!

    jennifer May 23, 2008 at 9:43 am

    Amazing story. Beautiful son. Congratulations on this miracle, HBM!

    Cynthia Samuels May 23, 2008 at 9:44 am

    Holy cow! Well you know what they say about those on the cusp between Gemini and Taurus — emotional, open and determined, right? You and Jasper.
    How did Emilia do? Did she see everything? Any editorial comments? And most important, I assume her toadstools were a great great help….
    Mazel Tov as we say in my country…. and much joy.

    Angela May 23, 2008 at 9:44 am

    WOW. Just Wow!

    Tell me, did you have even a moment there where you had a second to think ‘now THIS is some damn good blog material!”

    No? Because it IS! This is the best birth story ever! In a totally “I so hope mine doesn’t go this way” kind of way of course.

    I must say it sounds like Her Bad Family are all heros! And WB- offering her toadstool- just awesome. That’s a good daughter right there.

    Congratulations to all of you on the arrival of SR (Speed Racer).

    Mom with a Scattered Mind May 23, 2008 at 9:46 am

    Oh wow what a story, I have a tear in the corner of my eye from reading that.

    That was amazing.

    Congrats, he is a beautiful baby boy.

    Mrs. Fussypants May 23, 2008 at 9:51 am

    ~~~~~~~Delurking for this one!~~~~~

    Change the name! No more Her Bad Mother. It is now Her Awesome Mother!

    Wow, you deserve a medal & some good Cabernet.

    All the best,
    Alli -aka Mrs. Fussypants

    sweetney May 23, 2008 at 9:52 am

    oh my god oh my god oh my god, i think *MY* brain snapped a little reading that story. jesus, lady!

    so glad everything turned out alright though. whew!

    much love to you and jasper, you fucking rule!

    justmylife May 23, 2008 at 9:53 am

    That is an amazing story. I don’t think I would have been able to think clearly yet. That picture said it all. I’m just thinking here, but I believe Jasper decided he was ready to enter the Blog World with a bang! heh! So happy to hear that everyone is doing well. And big sister sounded like she was right there and ready to help out. Just amazing. Congrats!

    Maria May 23, 2008 at 9:54 am

    That’s a great story! Our #2 was born in quite similar fashion except we didn’t make it out the door and delivered her (double nuchal cord and all) righ on the living room floor. I totally know how you feel.

    But one great thing is that they come out looking perfect–no pointy head or squished face.

    Robin May 23, 2008 at 9:56 am

    What a birth story, and you’ve now got YEARS worth of shower and dinner party anecdotes to share ;-) . Trust me, I know – mine actually WAS delivered in the car. It may not seem right now that you could ever just casually chat about the stress of that car ride (or heaven forbid milk it for laughs), but the overwhelming stress of the birth fades faster than you think when you’re busy focusing on a newborn and a somewhat shellshocked todder.

    Congratulations again HBM. Any birth that ends with a healthy mama and a healthy baby is a stellar success, no matter how exciting it got.

    amalah May 23, 2008 at 9:56 am

    *picking jaw off floor*

    My hot damn, lady, you are amazing. I cannot even imagine. Jasper looks positively delicious.

    How much did he weigh??

    Adventures In Babywearing May 23, 2008 at 9:59 am

    Oh, I love his name and love the way he chose to make an unforgettable entrance into your world.

    Many many congrats!


    Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah May 23, 2008 at 10:05 am

    Happy birthday.

    Can you imagine giving birth in a car with your older child present?


    Diane May 23, 2008 at 10:06 am

    Oh My God! What a story! So glad to hear everyone made it safely. You are so strong.

    Sarah May 23, 2008 at 10:09 am

    Congratulations! So glad you’re all okay. Jasper is an adorable name!

    LetterB May 23, 2008 at 10:15 am

    Oh thank god for happy endings. I nearly gave birth to my second on the hospital floor (fast she came, but not nearly as fast as Jasper, I was at least in a room) and now understand how births in cars and elevators happen. Wishing you many more blessings and moments of joy. And speedy healing.

    Stefania/CityMama May 23, 2008 at 10:16 am

    Good heavens, woman! So that’s how little Jasper is going to be, is it? A little punky right from the get go? Hmph, we’ll just see about that!

    Welcome to the world, little guy. One scare for your dear mama is enough. It is now your duty to be the best little boy in the entire world forever. the. end.

    Hugs to you, C. I wish you ice packs and a speedy recovery. He is beautiful and sweet and I can almost smell that baby head from here.

    Amy May 23, 2008 at 10:26 am

    I totally feel you. I had #1 in 3 hours 45 minutes (we barely made it to the hospital, and I was at 10 cm when they checked me. If I’d known what I was doing she would’ve been born in the car, but I just thought I had to poo!) and #2 was induced in the hospital in 1 hour 9 minutes. Even though we were in the hospital, it was scary for everything to go that fast. They had to turn on the lights and sirens and the doc barely made it.

    People think that I’m lucky to have had such fast labors, but it’s like being on a runaway freight train. Terrifying.

    Congratulations, and love to you and your beautiful Jasper. What a story for the memory books!

    Pgoodness May 23, 2008 at 10:38 am

    You are my hero (yeah, and HBF too, for driving like a maniac). Congrats again.

    Jessica May 23, 2008 at 10:41 am

    My goodness what a story. Amazing, you and HBH. Congratulations on the addition of Jasper to your family.

    Scary Mommy May 23, 2008 at 10:44 am

    Holy shit. Glad I am done having children, your story may have scared me away! Congrats!!

    Mimi May 23, 2008 at 10:46 am

    JEEEEZUZ, you! Insane. I’m so glad it ended so happily, and you know? That pic of you and Jasper (our fave boy name, out of contention only because a) we had a girl and b) it rhymes with Pynchon’s last name) almost ALMOST makes me want to have another.

    A truly harrowing story. But now, it’s joy and congratulations. I wish you the first and offer you the second.

    ewe are here May 23, 2008 at 10:47 am

    Holy h*ll! A scary, scary trip indeed…

    But what a great ending… you made it and all was well.

    Mitzi Green May 23, 2008 at 11:07 am

    Holy. F’ing. $hit.

    now I’M scared. because the first few paragraphs? yeah, we have that conversation on an almost-daily basis. i just said last night, “this child will deliver itself because when it really IS go-time, i’m not going to believe the hype.” i have, however, been forbidden from ruining the upholstery in our new kia, so no roadside births for us, either…

    mommastantrum May 23, 2008 at 11:11 am

    Thank Goodness everyone is safe and beautiful. What a fabulous birthday gift after all of that preparatory labor. You are one tough lady, and put the “Bad” in BadAss.
    I love his name too. Beautiful. Now, go take a nap and a percocet.

    Shannon May 23, 2008 at 11:15 am

    You are a total superhero. I’m sitting here bawling like a baby reading your story.

    You all rock.

    Jenifer May 23, 2008 at 11:36 am

    You will do anything for a great story! ;) That just sounds so scary and exciting all at once.

    I had fourth degree tearing too! Over 50 stitches! I did heal quickly though…but sitting was a challenge for awhile. And eat LOTS AND I MEAN LOTS OF BRAN I’m just saying…

    PunditMom May 23, 2008 at 11:52 am

    You need a new superhero uniform. What a harrowing story, but I am so happy that everything seems to be OK. Perhaps more pain meds for you, tho’. ;)

    Kyla May 23, 2008 at 11:56 am

    Wow. This could have been you. Seriously, click on the link.

    What a birth story. Welcome to the world wee Jasper, you sure know how to make an entrance.

    Lisa N. May 23, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    Holy sh*t, I’m sweating just reading about it. I’m a new reader but have been checking your blog obsessively – congrats, superhero!


    mamatulip May 23, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    HOLY CRAP, what a story!

    Congrats again. :)

    That lady with 6 daughters May 23, 2008 at 1:22 pm

    I had my 2nd baby in the car 11 1/2 years ago. It was amazing. We pulled over because it was raining and our tires weren’t doing well- we were supposed to be getting into my MIL’s car. Her cord was wrapped twice around her neck and looped around her shoulder- untangling it seemed to take forever. Luckily I didn’t tear or anything. Congratulations, Happy birthday and here’s my car birth story-

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