Having a baby in our Jaguar S-type | CAR Magazine

Having a baby in our Jaguar S-type

Published: 08 June 2010 Updated: 26 January 2015

Those of us that are fathers or expectant fathers, and also like driving must have occasionally daydreamed about what would happen if their wife suddenly went into labour at home and things progress rather more quickly than the oh-so-reassuring leaflets the NHS give out. Resulting in a truly heroic drive to the hospital, arriving, against all odds, just before the baby is born – to the admiration of all concerned. Including Plod, who naturally failed to keep up with you as you went through traffic lights, right angle bends and narrow country lanes at the speed of light…. Well, you get what I mean. Walter Mitty is alive, well, and living in suburban Britain.

Except it isn’t like that. Even in a Jaguar S-type. I know because I did it.

This was our second child – the first had taken 24 hours to arrive so my wife and I were guessing at least 12 hours for this one. ‘I think I’ve just had a pushing contraction,’ my wife said two hours after the first contraction. ‘We’d better be quick,’ I answered, a tad nervously. ‘No you can’t squat in the back – you’ve got to wear a seatbelt.’

Into the car, strap wife in, recline the seat (nice, soft yet supportive – and very expensive, I found out later – champagne leather) and away we went. We were just turning on to the road when she announced: ‘My waters just broke.’

It’s about 25 miles, half along country lanes, half dual carriage-way until you reach our nearest city, then another two miles to the hospital. Maybe 45 minutes, but after 10 pm with birth imminent, probably less than that – I knew the roads well and also the car. No worries!  And just maybe, I would find out what would really happen if Plod stopped me and I said: ‘But officer, my wife is having a baby!’

Besides, everybody makes it to the hospital on time, don’t they?

My wife was a little quiet.  ‘Are you ok?’ I kept asking. ‘I keep having pushing contractions,’ she moaned. ‘Yes, but you’re not actually pushing are you,’ I said reassuringly. Silence.

We made it to the dual carriage-way in record time and I didn’t scare myself too many times, though I can’t speak for my wife. (Wife speaks: Strange that – I didn’t notice for once… Didn’t you find that suspicious in itself? None of the usual interjections of ‘For God’s sake don’t you think you’re going a little too fast?’ Instead I was concentrating on not having a baby, remember).

Relief at last. A nice straight and empty road for 12 miles. Foot down, quickly through the gears to sixth and keep the foot down. I started thinking about the 20 sets of lights or so we’d have to negotiate in the city, as well as the inevitable traffic and how I might get through it all quickly. Would I, (should I) stop if told to by Plod? We agreed that yes, when we were outside the hospital. So it was just as well that:

Wife: ‘You’ve got to stop. It’s coming out!’
Me: ‘I can’t! There’s nowhere to pull over…’

Me (thinks): We can’t stop here – it’s too dangerous. Oh s**t…… Why is this happening to me? Anyway, we’re going to get there so this is just a very brief, temporary interlude while I stay calm and convince her it is not about to arrive. At least not for half an hour. The (typically male?) capacity for self delusion still amazes me.

Me: ‘Ok, but I can’t stop just here. I have to find somewhere safe’.

The A46 here has a notorious junction, with no hard shoulder to speak of for about a mile, and there were a few cars, so I had to drive on, but I wasn’t worried. She just needed a little reassurance – you will not believe how sure I was of this – the baby would not come yet and I could carry on with the epic drive to the hospital, (which in an almost perverse way I was enjoying.…..)

Off the dual carriage way, onto a grass verge cum hard shoulder near the only house and safe (ish ) place to stop for miles. Into neutral, on go the hazard lights, and around to the passenger side of the Jaguar. This should only take a few seconds I think and then we’ll be on our way again.

Wife: “The head’s out!”,
Me: (Supportive, reassuring. And delusional to the end….) ‘Nooooo, it’s not. Let’s have a look. Oh no. It is”. It seems she wasn’t kidding.  (Editor Wife – Well I guess if you had to pass something the size of a large grapefruit you’d be pretty sure wouldn’t you?).

Now what do I do? The baby was crowning.  One hand near its head, ready to hold it when it came out. Now supporting the baby’s head as it continued out, while the other was poised to catch the body as it then started to emerge.   Has anyone ever told you how bloody, and above all how bloody slippery, babies are when they are born?  I did think at the time that I’d better not drop the poor little sod into the S-type’s foot-well. I was bent double, leaning in from the passenger door, in the dark with just the courtesy light on, trying to hold on to a baby, while passing cars rocked the car. (Editor Wife – Yeah, yeah quit trying to get the sympathy vote here)

It’s out. Move the hand behind the neck and head, wrapping it around the upper arm so I can’t drop it, and prop the bum on the edge of the seat while I check it over. ‘It’s a girl !  No, it’s not…. It’s a boy !! ( Sorry, Louis.) I wiped his mouth and nose, checked he was breathing, had a pulse, that he otherwise seemed fine i.e. reasonably pink, good muscle tone / not all limp and floppy which was all I could think of to do and wonder of wonders, he seemed fine. During this he gave a little cry, which is indeed just possibly the best sound in the world at this time? Then carefully lay him on his front on my wife’s chest, whereupon he opened his eyes, and, I’d like to think, lay there looking at me. (Editor Wife – Hah – what were you saying about the male capacity for self delusion?).  Almost all that remained was to check my wife was ok, and she said she was, said statement being the first that evening that I was happy to accept, in full.

Then around to the boot, open her suitcase, and get a towel to wrap him in before dialling 999.

Perhaps one of the strangest things on a rather strange evening was what happened to Time. From leaving home, to actually dialling 999 at 10:24 pm only took about 12 minutes and we travelled maybe 14 miles. It seemed a lot longer. In fact, we were back home by 5:45 a.m. Mother and baby had been checked over ( by experts this time, thankfully ), deemed to be fine, and so my wife decided we’d go home.  In the Jaguar’s back seat though…..

People have asked if I was scared. At the time, no, I was too busy and concentrating too hard. It wasn’t until I was sitting in the garden next day at midday, with a large cigar and even larger drink that some of the things that could have gone wrong with the birth (though not, of course, my driving ) hit me and scared the – well, lets leave it at that shall we?. But I made it to the toilet on time. Just.

Louis? He’s fine, nearly four now, he likes cars and going fast in them. His birth certificate states as place of birth’ On the A46 near Radcliffe College on route to Leicester Royal Infirmary’. The bureaucrats wouldn’t add ‘in a Jaguar S Type’. There is no justice!

The car? I’d always liked Jaguars, had always wanted one and really enjoyed driving it, more than any car I’ve owned. I never knew until this happened that it was possible also to look on a car with such great affection. Having a baby in one is not recommended though. 11 weeks, a new seat cover and internal padding etc, new carpet, mats, a full valet and about £2500 later, I got it back. Looking as good as new. I loved that S Type.

Editor Wife – (And me? “…for God’s sake don’t you think you’re going a little tooo fast?”).

Me: Yes. Even now. ( Just this once, I am going to have the last word.)




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