Saturday, May 7, 2011

Elsie Joy - The Story

My last post labeling my wife an incredible woman: it doesn’t even scratch the surface.
Elsie Joy. 7.7lbs of beautiful baby girl. She and Mama are healthy, and she is truly a blessing from God.

Throughout this pregnancy, I’ve sort of felt bad for our daughter. Her brother was born in Africa. We drove 13 hours on washboard dirt roads to get him to the city in which he’d be born. He spent his first six months sleeping in a mosquito net. Being born in the middle of a mega-city in France just couldn’t compete with that.

Oh, but it did. And I’d say her story wins hands-down.

Wanna read more? I’d recommend it.

I wrote 3 weeks ago that I should forget about hospitals and start reading “Where There is No Doctor.” I should have taken my own advice.

At 6:25pm (Friday May 6) JJ was sitting down and talking on the phone. Sawyer and I were making pizza, our usual Friday night family ritual. During her conversation I noticed a grimace on her face for about 30 seconds, an obvious contraction. No surprise there, nearly every night for the past week she’s had runs of contractions that always went away. I smiled, mouthed “I love you,” and went back to making pizza. Before her phone conversation another contraction hit. She hung up and said she’d had two fairly quickly, but not so bad.

Then the third came, and I started a timer. This one she said was different. Very much so. It hurt. So I slow danced with her and helped with the pain. It lasted over a minute. Less than three minutes later another began, just as bad. “We’d better make some calls,” she said, “this is it.”

So I called our friend who had planned to come watch Sawyer when the big day came. She said she’d come right away, but was 30/40 minutes out with travel. I asked her to hurry. I then called another friend and asked if she could come over so we could get a jump start to the hospital. Sure thing, 10/15 minutes out. Then a knock on the door. Another friend was standing there, he’d stopped by to borrow something from us. He stepped inside and heard a loud groan from the bedroom. The look I threw his way combined with an astute understanding of the situation was all it took. “Go,” he said, “I’ll stay.”

It was 7:03pm.

At this point, the contractions were lasting about a minute and a half, with the same amount of time (or less) between.

I yelled bye to Sawyer, who happily yelled the same back and then returned to his pizza. I helped JJ up and grabbed our bag. Just outside our door she said, “I don’t think we can make it to the hospital.”

Knowing the primary role of the husband in childbirth, I did what I was supposed to and calmly reassured her, “of course we will Sweetie, it’s only 7 minutes away, you’re doing great!”

I don’t think she was convinced. I wasn’t either. But she kept walking.

We got on the elevator to go down to our garage where the car awaited. On the elevator she told me the contractions were strong, and not like the usual ones.

Outside the garage she was visibly shaken, but also calm. I helped her into the passenger seat. The moment she sat, she said, “I can’t sit, if I sit, I feel like I have to push.”

Push. Wait, what?! Did you say push?!? Whoa, slow down... I don’t like that word. Not one bit.

“Let me take a look,” I said.

Holy schnikies! That’s the head of a baby. I see it. Oh boy. What’s going on? This is not right! I can see why they call it crowning, it kinda looks like... Wait, we’re in our car, 2 floors below ground in our garage. There’s no one else here! No cell service down here, I can’t call for help! I could run upstairs. No, I can’t leave her. Am I about to deliver a baby? What? No way. I had told her I didn’t even want to cut the cord. Encourage, back rub, talk in French, encourage some more. That’s my job. Not... this. OH NO!! “Our daughter has hair,” is what I said.

Once I realized that we were on our own, no help coming, and that we weren’t moving till this baby came out, a wave of calm washed over and through me and I became... someone else. I was actually ok, level-headed, ready.

I grabbed a pillow from the backseat and put it over the stick shift. I told her to lean back and pull her knees. I then pulled a handkerchief out of my pocket and laid it under her (yeah, it was laughable).

“Next contraction you breathe, relax and breathe, don’t push. I pray,” I said. “Then the second, you take two deep breaths, and then push and we are going to do this right here, right now.”

And that’s what we did.

7:10 pm - That baby girl shot right out. I don’t think I’ll ever forget what she looked like in that moment. I caught her. I handed her up to her Mama who held her to her chest, and I walked around to the driver’s side.

Every little boy (and a lot of big boys) dream about one day being the hero. Or at least doing something heroic. I know I have, and do, often. But my dreams never included delivering a baby. Never. What they did include though, was driving like a controlled maniac through a city of 2 million to make record time when clutch driving was needed. Now this I was ready for.

I sped out of the garage, always careful to keep it smooth, and I rounded the corner cutting off cars and popping my hand up when I needed to. I ran some lights, pulled right in front of some people before lights turned. I dared a cop to stop me, “Do you see what I have in the passenger seat? That’s a Mama, and a baby. They are still attached to each other! Do you know what that means?! Legggooooo!”

Pulling up to the hospital at 7:15pm, I ran in and the first person I saw was a security guard. “Open the gate, I’m pulling up to the front door. We need some help, my wife just gave birth IN THE CAR.”

“Go” he waved and grabbed his radio. Moments after I turned off the engine a small gaggle of wide-eyed midwives came running out of the hospital. The took our daughter, cut the cord, and tended to my wife. I followed the baby, JJ smiled and said “I’m fine, and I love you.”

They checked out. They’re both in perfect health. We’re now the celebrities of the hospital. Booyah.

Later that evening my wonderful servant-hearted friend Daniel came to take our car and clean it a little. The front seat looks like someone has been murdered in it. I handed him the keys and said, “don’t get pulled over, or you’ll have some fun explaining to do!”

He soaked up a lot of blood and did all he could, but the car still looks like, well, you know. So my amazing friend Tiffany started making phone calls. She found one person/company who said he could clean our car. He says his job is to “clean up after something sinister has taken place”. Nice. Real nice.

That’s my story. No, that’s Elsie’s story. And it’s a doozy.
Welcome to the world baby girl!!


Kate said...

Oh. My. Word. My mouth is wide open! Wow - you guys are rock stars!!! Soooo happy to hear that all are safe and healthy and that you're the most amazing husband/dad JJ and E could ask for!!! Congrats to both of you!!!

Kasey said...

I am so proud of all of you! So brave! She is beautiful...congrats!

Anonymous said...

Just.......awesome!!!!! I have no words. Congrats to all four of you. We do indeed serve a mighty good God.

The Byrd's Nest said...

What an amazing story to begin Mother's Day weekend:) Happy Mother's day and God bless your family:)

Gayle Thomas said...

Wow! All this from a man who had to put napkins on this hands to eat chicken wings!!
This is the most awesome story! I laughed and cried while I read.
You two are amazing, and God was, well God! I'm thankful for His protection over you and baby Elsie. She's beautiful, just like her momma. Happy Mother's Day Joe Joe!

Me said...

Wow! Congratulations! You are having an amazing adventure wherever you are!

GARRY said...

Came at the perfect time "Mothers Day"I know that Elsie will have the two best parents a girl could ask for. Congraulations to the "three" of you.

Anonymous said...

You're right about this story beating Sawyer's birth story. Kudo's to you, Dr. Dad--and brave Mom! Congrats to all! NV

Kate said...

oh! and don't think i didn't notice that she's wearing 10 layers of clothing!!

Nic said...

Whoa. Great job, Dr. Harry and resilient mommy -- and welcome, Elsie Joy! My question is whether the delivery will technically be included in the hospital bill (whoever actually sees the bill in France). Congratulations, guys - beautiful story for a beautiful baby girl.

Katy said...

OH!!!!!! I've been checking all day to hear "THE STORY" but this is incredible! WOW. Thank you GOD and so glad everyone is healthy and OK! You are ALL amazing!!

Michael said...

Thank you for so many well wishes! We couldn't be happier. As so many pointed out, God is very good. I'm learning through all of this to pray for God's will and not ours- His is much more fun!

Kate- oh yeah on the clothes. When we first dressed her, a nurse helped me to put on the socks, long-sleeve onesie, long pjs, and hat. She shrugged when I pointed out the absurdity of a sweater on top. So we wrapped her in a blanket. Then nurse 2 came in, saw the sweater in my hand an insisted we add it immediately!

Nic- I'll be checking the line items of the bill. If I see a 'delivery fee', I'll be asking for my cut.

John Rice said...

Man.....I had read other people's comments on Facebook before reading this. I HAD NO IDEA!!!! This is an amazing story, so well written too. Glad everybody is fine, you got to be the hero, and that you'll have this incredible story to tell her about her birth. (Now you know why leather seats are much better!)

Sharmala said...

Congratulations to all of you on the safe arrival of Elsie Joy!! All glory to our Father! This is truly an incredible, miraculous story!! Michael and JoeJoe, both of you are truly heroes!! Sawyer is a champion for staying home and making pizza and for letting his parents leave in a hurry!! What a blessing friends are!!!
Happy Mother's Day, Jo

Erica Linville said...


Not sure if you remember me. I used to babysit you and your brother and sister (wow, that makes me feel ancient!). What an amazing story! Congratulations to you and Joe Joe and big brother on the extraordinary birth of your daughter! God Bless you all!

Erica (Roasa) Linville

heidibelle said...

Wow... that is pretty crazy... I am so glad you are all well and healthy. Good job Michael and good job Joe Joe... What a team you make... maybe you should start a midwifery ministry on the side.

Michael & Joe Joe said...

John - It was fun to play "hero", but I did very little except what had to be done (and would have by anyone in the same spot). God was ever-present and took care of us. The question was asked of me last night, "were thoughts running through your head of everything that could go wrong?" And honestly, I hadn't thought about all that could go wrong until now. I expected it to go right. God is good, many had prayed for this day, and amazingly some people were praying at the very moment it happened, not knowing why. God made it all happen, I followed along with what was in front of me.

Michael & Joe Joe said...

Jo- thanks, Sawyer really was a champ. He seemed to know what was going on and was totally ok with it!

Erica- Of course I remember you! Thanks for finding us. You know I could have used a babysitting hand on Friday night...

Heidi- I told JJ and I'll tell you: I don't ever want to do that again. For anyone. Ever. :)

Dewey M. said...

Wow! Congratulations to the two of you. This is an amazing story. We are so proud of you guys and all you are doing for the Lord. God bless you both, Elsie and Sawyser!
Love you Jerlyine & Dewey

Dan and Pam Johnson said...

This is just the most awesome story I think I have ever heard. Way to go Michael and JoeJoe and Hurray for Elsie Joy making her entrance into the world in such a dramatic fashion. Love you guys and so thankful that God was with you through this. You guys are amazing.

Xue said...


brady said...

DUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUDE! You are the MAN! JoeJoe- you are the WOMAN OF THE YEAR! Holy smokes. So happy for you both.

Michael & Joe Joe said...

Dewey, Xue, and Brady- Thanks guys, the whole thing was amazing and simply a wild ride for us. Thankfully God made a woman's body to do exactly what JJ's did without thinking, and luckily my Dad taught me to play catch at an early age.

D&P- We like dramatic though, right?

Travis said...

Congratulations! We are thanking God for Elsie and her amazing entry. Praying for you guys...

Deborah said...

BRILLIANT!!! Barka da zuwa, little one! Well done Hero-Man!!!! Mind if I repost this one! So glad to hear mamma and baby are doing well!

Michael & Joe Joe said...

Thanks Deb, it all worked out! You're welcome to repost, thanks for asking!