“You’re going to get pulled over,” my young bride warned while I slowed to about 90 as we entered a 55 miles an hour speed limit zone.
“That would be nice,” I responded. “We could use a police escort.”
Fortunately, we had the highway all to ourselves with sunrise still a couple of hours away. I was impressed at how well Jamie’s little Chevrolet Cavalier was handling at high speeds.
We were going to make better time than I expected.
What surely seemed like utter chaos to my wife as she attempted to count the time between contractions in the passenger seat was actually something I had planned very carefully.
We had to drive all the way to Flowood from Yazoo City for our first child to be delivered. That’s a trip that can take an hour under normal conditions, and I’d seen enough babies being born on TV shows to know that simply isn’t enough time.
I tried several different routes during trips to the doctor’s office for checkups, noting things like the number of traffic signals along each path. I had alternative routes ranked in order of efficiency in case their was an unexpected development like an accident causing a delay or if the baby decided to come during peak traffic times.
I was well prepared, and the plan was coming together nicely until Jamie called her doctor from her cell phone. First of all, she didn’t actually get to speak to the doctor, but I was even more concerned about the lack of urgency I detected in the nurse’s voice Jamie was speaking with.
“I guess it makes sense,” I thought. “The action doesn’t really begin until we get to the hospital. They want us to keep calm and get there safely.”
We turned into the parking lot of Women’s Hospital on two wheels, and I drove right up to the front door. I was very concerned that there was no one waiting with a stretcher – or at least a wheelchair to rush Jamie to the delivery room.
Do they not understand the urgency? Surely a team of doctors is being assembled as we speak.
I announced our arrival to the receptionist and waited for instructions. I was relieved when she told us to head down the hall to the right.
That relief quickly turned into real frustration when I discovered that the first order of business was making sure that they had our insurance information and correct billing address. I’m normally a pretty laid back guy, but it was all I could do to contain myself as Jamie was being asked to fill out a stack of paperwork.
I thought these people were supposed to know what they’re doing. Surely they understand that our baby could be arriving any minute.
I began to mentally prepare myself to personally deliver the baby in the lobby if necessary. I had no medical training of course, but I did assist in the delivery of a few calves on my father’s farm during troubled births. That experience might come in handy.
On the bright side, my uncle did deduct the delivery cost from his bill when his daughter was born in the elevator on the way to the delivery room. Maybe we can save some money here, but money’s not really important at a time like this.
I nervously paced the room while Jamie filled out the remaining forms, and finally we were shown to a room.
“Just in time,” I thought. “Now where’s that doctor? This baby is probably going to be here before she is.”
About 10 hours later our son James Jackson Patterson was born. They even decided to administer some medicine designed to speed up the process.
If I were the kind of man who was capable of feeling foolish, I probably would have felt that way as I reflected on our dramatic arrival. Instead I took comfort in knowing that I completed my mission of getting Jamie to the hospital with plenty of time to spare.
That was 10 years ago this week, and that first decade sometimes seems to have flown by just as quickly as that wild ride to the hospital on that cold December morning.
And like that fast trip to Flowood, we’re still figuring out a lot of things along the way. At least we learned early on to stop worrying so much and to just hang on and enjoy the ride.