A Dangerous Ride

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My heart slammed against my chest. I looked out the window as the buildings whizzed by, trying to keep breathing, trying to remember everything I learned in that super awkward birthing class I took with Poppy.

Jace turned and took the ramp onto the highway. We had another twenty minutes to go until we reached the hospital. I held onto the door handle as another long contraction ripped through me. I took a few breaths and it was finally over. 

"Jace, listen." I said, trying to catch my breath. "I've been watching the clock and my contractions are getting really close together. They're less than two minutes apart. You need to step on it."

"I know, I know," he said. "I'm going as fast as I can. They barely even plowed this."

"I'm so worried about the breech baby," I said.

"I know. Me too. Just try to relax. We'll be there soon," he said, keeping his eyes on the road.

I closed my eyes and tried to focus, grunting and then breathing through another contraction. Literally, I thought I was going to die. That's how bad the pain was getting.

I wiped some sweat off my forehead. It was ten degrees out and the road was icy. Snow was just starting to fall again.

"Ow ow ow," I said, gripping the seatbelt with one hand and the door handle with the other.

"Just keep breathing through it. You got this," Jace said, reaching his hand over for just a second to squeeze mine.

I looked out the window. We just passed exit five. The hospital was off two. I kept breathing. I can do this. We'll get there. We're almost halfway. The hospital has tons and tons of painkillers.

Another contraction. I tried to moan into the sleeve of my jacket. I didn't want Jace getting distracted, but that one felt different than the others.

Besides taking the awkward birthing class, I'd read so much stuff about giving birth, all these things about "your body knowing what to do." I didn't believe any of that until that last contraction.

Exit three was coming up. So was another contraction, similar to the last one. I tried to hold back, I really did, but it felt like my body was begging me to push. Jace was quiet. The exit three sign passed us by. A contraction hit, and couldn't help it.

I pushed. Hard.

"Uh, what are you doing?" Jace asked, a slight shake in his voice.

"I felt like I needed to push. Don't worry about it. Just keep driving."

"What? If this is actually happening right now, then I have to pull over!" Jace said.

"Keep. Driving," I said.

He didn't answer, but stepped on the gas. We quickly passed the sign that said Exit 3: 2 miles. Another contraction. I took a huge breath and pushed. The pain was getting worse. I wiped the tears from my face onto my jacket.

"Ah...shit," I said, another contraction hitting.

I pushed, suddenly feeling like I was getting ripped apart. Something felt different. I pulled off my glove and tried to discreetly reach into my leggings. Something definitely wasn't right. I grabbed Jace's arm.

"Pull over."


"Pull. Over. Now."

"What's going on?" he asked with a shaky voice. 

I felt another contraction and started wailing. Something was in my hand.

"Jace, this thing is literally coming out of me! I need you to pull over!" I said.

He swerved, and in seconds we were stopped on the side of the highway. He put the car in park and came around to my side. I was so hot and sweaty that the cold air actually felt good. I pulled my leggings all the way off. I tried to look, but I couldn't see anything.

"Okay, it's like, partially out," Jace said.

I kept panting. This was really happening, and for some reason I didn't feel nervous at all anymore.

"Is it the one that's breech?" I asked. "You need to call an ambulance."

"It's not. I can tell." He said.

"Jace you gotta call and ambulance!" I said.

"I'm kinda busy at the moment!" he said.

I felt another contraction and cried out as I pushed. There was a little bit of relief as I heard something splatter onto the floor of the car.

"I think his head's out," I said, rubbing my hand around a round, rubbery surface that was all wet. 

"It is. Let go. I can catch it." I didn't want to move my hand. "Just let go. I got him."

I held the cup holder with one hand and the seatbelt with the other, waiting for the final contraction to hit. When it did, I grunted and gave it everything I had. Relief flowed through me. I could hear an even bigger mess dripping onto the car floor.

"Okay, I've got him! I've got him!" Jace said.

I looked and he held up the squirming baby.

"Here, give him to me," I said. 

I opened my jacket and took him, closing him inside and not even caring about all the blood on my white sweater. The baby made slow movements and squirmed a little more, then started coughing.

"Hey, there you go," I said to him, my whole body shaking. I rubbed his back to get him crying. He was making little grunts and then finally let out a big wail. "That's it. Shh, it's okay."

I kissed the top of his head, even though it was all wet and dirty. I tried to dry him off with my jacket. I could already see that he had dimples. The hairs on his half-bald head were matted into thick, dark curls, just like his mother and his grandfather.

I looked over at Jace, who was already on his phone, calling the ambulance. 

"This one is Oliver," I said.  

"Works for me," Jace said, still on the phone.

He came around the other side of the car, reached in, and started blasting the heat.

"The ambulance isn't too far away. They said only a couple minutes so hopefully we can make it that long," Jace said.

"Great," I said.

I held Oliver as tight as possible. He was so tiny and delicate that I thought I'd break him, but I really wanted to keep him as warm as I could. Jace took off his winter coat, covering me and Oliver with it.

I rocked him against me as the next round of contractions started to kick in and sirens wailed in the distance. Oliver quieted down. Jace ran outside the car, waving his arms. The ambulance was coming, and just in time.

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