I became a mother at 15, technically the day I had my daughter, Sarah, I was exactly 15 ½ and should have been getting my drivers permit. We had already had two trips to the hospital for false labor, so that morning when I told my mom that I was having contractions, she figured she had time given that it was my first baby and the labor is typically longer. I didn’t realize that my back hurting and being unable to get comfortable or sleep all night was the first stage of labor.
So my mother started getting my brothers ready for school, we all got loaded in her suburban and of course, she needed gas. Finally were able to get on the highway, the hospital was about 30 minutes away on a clear day but that morning it was snowing. It was steadily coming down heavier and thicker to the point that traffic was barely moving at a crawl and visibility was limited to about 10 feet ahead of us. After 7 miles by which point I was screaming and writhing in pain, my mom pulled off in the town of my brothers school and dropped them at a friends house for her to take them the rest of the way, I remember their huge eyes and horrified glances as they got out, up until that point I hadn’t given any thought that they were in the vehicle. I later found out that apparently my youngest brother ,Kyle, had made a float for a school project out of popsicle sticks and it got broken to pieces under my feet. Poor little guys having to witness that at only 7 and 9 years old was probably pretty traumatic for them. I remember my mom's friend opening the car door and reaching in trying to stroke my hair and I snapped at her “Don’t touch me!” She closed the door and I heard her say to my mother “My God, if she’s like this already she’s never going to make it.”
FINALLY my mom got back in the car, back on the highway, by then the pain was so intense I was pushing with my feet almost standing up in the back seat, I was moaning and screaming out in agony, we had made it another 5 miles or so down the road when my mom asked “Are you going to make it? Should I pull off and get help?”
I thought - how the hell should I know I’ve never had a baby before! But I heard the concern in her voice and when I looked at her hunched over the steering wheel trying desperately to see in what was now a full blown blizzard and there were tears running down her cheek and in that moment I knew she was scared too. “Yes, pull off.”
She got off the exit and pulled up to a grocery store, to the front door I might add, and ran in to use the phone and call an ambulance.
Meanwhile, she had left the heater blaring, thinking that I might deliver in the car and I couldn’t breathe, I was panting and pouring sweat. I swung the car door open wide and hung my head out, I was laying on my back with one leg over each seat. Curious passersby had started to gather gawking at me- the screaming girl with obvious imminent labor- what a sight that must have been. In Colorado life doesn’t stop when it snows, it just slows down, so there were people coming in and out of the store and the crowd was growing. My mom was taking FOREVER to come back. I was beginning to feel pressure, was I actually about to deliver my baby in front of a bunch of strangers !? Just then, two EMT’s emerged through the crowd with my mom. They debated whether to move me to the ambulance, they timed my contractions and said they were 7 minutes apart- they weren’t really there was a delay because she was crowning. So they decided to transfer me to the ambulance. It was an all guy crew, one of the EMT’s said we were going to stop and pick up my wife. I know I looked at him like he’d lost his mind- Can there be any MORE delays in getting me to the flippin’ hospital I thought. He explained that she was also an EMT and was just across the street where they had been responding to a roll over accident where no one was hurt when they got the call for me. We quickly came to a stop, the female EMT jumped in the back and we got back on the highway with my mom following behind. We were still about 12 miles from the hospital at that point and hadn’t gotten very far when I announced “ I need to push!” One of the guys said “you need to wait until we get to the hospital, it won’t be long”. I reached down and felt her head, I said “NO, I need to push NOW! She’s coming out!” I watched his eyes bug out as he looked at his wife. She put gloves on and pulled my pants down. “Wow!” I heard, “is everything ok?” I asked.
“Yes, we're about to have a baby” she said as she was pushing towels under me “Ok. push when you're ready”. Two pushes and she was born, they laid her on my chest. I in that moment my whole world changed. My Baby. I grew up in an instant, I was a mommy and I needed this baby as much as she needed me. Nothing else in the world mattered. I heard the sirens turn on and felt as we picked up speed. The EMT looked out the window and I heard her say “Mile Marker 112”. To this day, when we are driving past my daughter says “yeah, I know mom, this is where I was born, you tell me every time!”
We arrived at the hospital and there were at least a half dozen nurses standing outside, they were waiting for us and opened the back door of the ambulance as soon as we stopped. The EMT handed me some blankets, she smiled at me and said “That was really incredible, I’ve never delivered a baby”. I covered my baby completely and held her tightly as they started moving my gurney to lower us down. They wheeled us to a room.
A few minutes later my mom arrived, they had lost her in the canyon when they sped up. As she was walking up to the hospital entrance one of the EMT guys that had been in the ambulance saw her and blurted out “She didn’t make it”. “WHAT?!” my mother said horrified. He Immediately realized his blunder “I sorry mom and baby are fine, I meant to say she had the baby in the ambulance. You did the right thing calling us, you wouldn’t have made it to the hospital.” She breathed a deep sigh of relief and narrowed her eyes at him “you should choose your words better!” she reprimanded.
In my hospital room, one of the nurses reached for the baby and I lifted my hand to stop her “We’re attached.” “I’ll bring her right back, we just have to check her out.” the nurse said. I pointed to the umbilical cord and said again “we're attached.” “Oh!” she exclaimed, a little embarrassed. Once they had cut the cord they took her a few feet away to the baby station to examine her and she started crying. “Sarah” I said in a soothing way and she immediately stopped crying. The nurses all looked at each other, then at me “She knows your voice!’ In wonder I thought, she knows my voice, I’d been singing to my belly for months. My mom came walking in, took one look at me and Sarah and burst into tears, she came to my side and kissed my forehead “Oh honey, she’s beautiful.” she said, looking toward Sarah. She whispered “I almost killed one of the EMT’s.” I cocked my head and looked at her questioningly. “I’ll tell you about it later- I can’t believe you had her, all alone!” “It’s ok mom, we’re ok.”
A few hours later we were moved to another room. All of my family was there visiting. I was so in awe of my perfect little baby. There was a knock at the door, someone from the newspaper. They asked me all about my experience and asked to take our picture. To my shock the next day I had so many visitors, they were having to turn people away. We were on the FRONT PAGE, huge picture, two page story. We were famous in our little town. Apparently it had been 15 years since someone delivered in the ambulance. Everyone kept telling me how beautiful the picture was, I was featured holding Sarah tightly to my bosom, proudly smiling down at her. “You're absolutely glowing.” To which I would respond half joking “It was sweat, I’d just had a baby without ANY pain meds!”
Over the next several weeks I naturally settled into life with a newborn. My life was no longer about me, it revolved around this tiny little human and I have been forever changed and so grateful to be her mom.
Sarah was about a month old when three of my friends stopped by after school. She was napping on my chest as most newborns do. I think I’d barely put her down since she was born. I know I looked tired but happy. They all had a curious look of disbelief. “How is it?” they asked, staring wide eyed at the diapers, breast pump and baby items cluttered around me. “You really love being a mom?” They were all a little shocked when I told them how amazing it was, that all the stuff they were telling me about school and other friends paled in comparison and that having Sarah was the best thing I’ve ever done. They didn’t really understand that, none of them could imagine having a baby at our age. They had all witnessed a complete transformation.