December 5, 1993.

Remembering the date is easy. It’s the day my second son was born.

My wife woke up at about 7:30 on that Sunday morning and stumbled, bleary eyed and heavily pregnant, into the bathroom. As very small children do, our first child followed her to discuss his huge plans for the day with her. Through the bathroom and the bedroom door, I heard his small clear voice prattling and suddenly, quietly,

“Go get your father.”

Unintelligible but questioning toddler voice.


I lurched completely vertical without passing through any of the intervening stages from horizontal, collided with and swept up the little fellow as he careened, wide-eyed, toward our room. “What’s up?” I called through the door. He had at least had the presence of mind to close the door behind him, if not yet learned not to go through it after someone was already in there. He’s better now, I promise.

“I’m pushing!”

“NO YOU’RE NOT I’LL GET THE BAG BREATHE BREATHE IN OUT IN OUT.” People say it takes forever to get a toddler dressed and in his car seat, but they are not properly inspired. At 7:40 we were in the car and moving. And then I turned to Sweetie,

“The gas light is on. We have to stop for gas.”


“It’s either that or run out of gas and have the baby in the car.” At this time the car was a 1987 Hyundai Excel, an acceptable car that both of us quietly loathed and yearned to replace. It is long gone now and not missed.


I swept into a convenience store and got $5 worth of gas, explaining in a very breathless pace what was going on to the cashier. “God speed, man,” he said, as he clicked the pump on.

Five dollars worth of fuel takes literally less than a minute to pump into your car. As we pulled out of the station and headed toward the highway, Sweetie gasped around her next contraction, “Don’t take the interstate!”

I almost pulled over to goggle at her. “There are no stop lights on the interstate. There are eighteen stop lights between here and birthing center if we stay on surface streets. I counted. Which intersection do you want to name the kid after?”

“Okay, interstate.”

Approaching the off ramp that would take us to the birthing center, there were some discontinuities in the pavement, almost a rumble strip in the lane. Sweetie put up her heels on the dash. “OH SWEET JESUS PUT YOUR FEET DOWN this car has little enough resale value as it is!”

We arrived at the birthing center at 7:55am.

Sweetie’s water broke in the lobby.

Son #2 was delivered at 8:02. He holds the record even now, 24 years later, for being the fastest delivery that actually took place in a birthing room. Sweetie had gone through every bit of labor while completely asleep and didn’t wake up until it was time to push.

On our way home the gas light came on again, and we refilled the car. It took every ounce of its listed capacity.