The shrill scream is horror movie frightening. Not the kind of cry anyone ever wants to be awoken by at 6:30 in the morning.
It’s coming from my wife in the next room. Yikes! I vault out of bed and sprint at warp speed, a velocity that would make Usain Bolt jealous.
“The baby’s coming!” she says, expressing pain and panic.
“I don’t think I can make it to the hospital.”
Doctors there had sent us home three hours ago, suggesting it could be days before the baby arrives.
Now, I’m staring at the most scary and surreal situation ever — the possibility of delivering our second child on my own.
“Let’s get you to the hospital,” I say, because “Beam me up, Scotty” didn’t work.
“I don’t think I can walk to the car,” she tells me.
Determined to get her to the Health Sciences, we carefully get her dressed and out the door. She grasps my arms with the grip of a politician trying to hold onto power as she lowers herself into the car.
While everything seems like it is happening in slow motion, my heart is racing. Soon, my trusty Corolla is racing too.
“I’m not going to be able to get out of the car,” my wife declares.
I call 9-11 on my cell and get patched through to the paramedics.
They promise to have people waiting to get my wife out of the car and up to the case room.
Four-way flashers flaring, I barrel down Kenmount Road at 120 clicks.
My wife locks onto my shoulder and yells, “I’m pushing.” “Don’t push in the car!” I tell her. She says she can’t help it and yells “SLOW DOWN ON THE BUMPS!”
I imagine pulling into the Starbucks parking lot and delivering Little Baby Frappuccino.
My stomach is in knots and the sweat is rolling off me. Surprisingly, my thoughts are focused — I’ve GOT to get her to the Health Sciences.
My wife finds herself pushing again near Scampers — mmmm, Scampers, I think — and again on Prince Philip Drive. Almost there, I tell myself. “AHHHHHHH!,” my screams, making me gulp. “Hold on,” I tell her. Two paramedics meet us the Health Sciences entrance 6:50 a.m.
They gently move my wife out of the car, into a wheelchair, and to the case room.
She yells incoherently at them. My heart aches for what she must be experiencing.
I park the car and race to the case room. There, I find a doctor bent over my wife, trying to get her breathing properly.
“Did your water break?” a nurse asks her.
She doesn’t know, but as they took off her pants, it’s apparent it had broken — in my car!
There is no time to think about that or anything else.
In seconds, they’ve got her on the bed and in a position to deliver.
Three pushes and a few minutes later, I’m in tears while cutting the chord on a baby girl, Stella Paige Bartlett.
It’s 50 minutes after my wife’s scream woke me up, and kickstarted the anxious, emotional and intense journey to the delivery room.
Holding the baby for the first time, I realize a more important journey has just begun.
Steve Bartlett craves sleep. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow his tweets at Stevebartlett_