How I Almost Gave Birth In a Taxi Nine Years Ago

So, that title was just a bit over-stated.  But still, it’s time to tell you my most dramatic birth story, and I might as well milk the drama for all it’s worth.

Nine years ago, Hubs and I were living in downtown Chicago with our then 17-month-old Adam.  I was hugely pregnant with our second son, Stephen. 

(By the way, let me just stop to tell you that until you have navigated a Chicago city bus with a toddler in one arm, a folded stroller in another, and a giant belly poking out front, then you have not yet lived, my friends.  Those were some good, ableit wobbly-footed, times.)

It was Thanksgiving weekend, and all of our friends–ALL of them–were out of town.  We, of course, had no family living nearby, because our family has the good sense to stay Down South, where God clearly intended people to live.  Even though I was 36 weeks pregnant, we didn’t worry too much about the lack of back-up, because I still had four weeks to go, right?

Unfortunately, I did not know Gestational Rule Number 487:  the number of friends you have nearby is inversely proportionate to the likelihood that you’re going to start having contractions five minutes apart. 

And so it was, on that cold November night in 1998 that I awakened at 3 am with the familiar tightening in my belly that came and went, came and went all too regularly.  I got up, dressed between contractions, and gently nudged Hubs awake.  Just like it happens in the movies, I whispered, "It’s time."

If I was about to give birth to a preemie, I did not have the mental energy to deal with a 17-month-old toddler in a hospital room at 3 a.m (remember, everyone we knew was out of town.  There was no one to call to come and watch Adam.)  I informed Hubs I’d be going to the hospital alone. 

He looked at me like I was crazy. 

But I explained my reasoning and I reminded him that the hospital was only six blocks away.  If it had been daytime, I would have walked.  I could take a cab directly from our high-rise to the ER entrance.  My mind was made up, and Hubs remembered quickly that you do not argue with a woman in labor, though he was still as horrified and scared as I’d ever seen him. 

We locked Adam in the apartment, dashed downstairs and Hubs flagged a cab.  He helped me in and kissed me, and cab door slammed shut.

"St. Josph’s emergency room," I told the driver.  He turned to look at me in dismay.

"Are you about to have a baby in this cab?" he asked, glancing at my huge belly.

"I hope not," I muttered, and as he sped away, I leaned my head back against the dark vinyl seat.  I closed my eyes and thought about the baby dancing in my tummy, trying to come out just a little too soon.  I thought about my husband, who was surely out of his mind with worry.  And I thought about the fact that I was alone, in labor, in a taxi, at 3 am, in downtown Chicago.

This boy better not give me any trouble when he’s a teenager, I thought to myself.

I hate to disappoint, but the drama basically ends here.  The two-minute drive to the ER was uneventful (though the cabbie still expected me to pay; you would think he’d consider that one a freebie, wouldn’t you?).  I checked in, labor was confirmed, and Hubs miraculously remembered one last friend we could call to help out.  He joined me at the hospital around 7 am; Stephen was born healthy and pink just after lunch.

To this day, Stephen doesn’t enter a room–he explodes into it.  Clearly, he knows how to make an entrance.

Happy birthday, my boy.  I’m so proud of you I could pop.

60 thoughts on “How I Almost Gave Birth In a Taxi Nine Years Ago

  1. Kellyn says:

    That is the greatest story! I would have done the exact same thing in making hubby stay home wit the young one. We mom’s always think even in times of…well…pain.

  2. nicole says:

    Oh Shannon, I can totally relate.
    Not to the taxi part, but to the not wanting to have your 17 month-old in the delivery room with no family in town and your friends are gone because it is (in my case) Christmas part.
    Checked myself in alone, too. And my child is QUITE dramatic as well…
    Happy Birthday to your 2nd biggest bear cub!

  3. Gego says:

    Here is the addendum:
    Gego got a call from PapaDryer about 6AM and he said “Get here as soon as possible”. I was able to get a flight out of here to Chitown and arrived about 11:30. I told the TAXI driver to get me to St. Joseph’s as fast as possible because I had a Grandchild arriving very soon. Little did I know that that simple request would mean going over curbs at 50mph, dodging cars and buses, driving almost 100 mph on the freeway from Midway to the hospital, laying rubber when we happened to be stopped by a stoplight once on Lakeside drive near Navy Pier. As he careened around cars, made several illegal turns, I arrived at the hospital in 25 minutes. I paid him generously, Thanked the Lord that I was able to walk, and arrived in Shannon’s room just in time to see Mr. Dryer holding a very quiet, swaddled angel. He was so still and quiet. Sometimes now, I try to remember that wonderfully quiet moment. I find it now when he visits and I ask if he wants me to read him a book. He cuddles close, reads along, and I remember that precious sight 9 years ago.
    Happy Birthday, Stephen! Wooooooo Pigs Soooooie
    Love ya bunches, Gego

  4. kristen says:

    I agree, that is a beautiful story! The ending made me cry. It’s evident how much you love your son. Thanks for sharing, it was dramatic enough and wonderfully written.

  5. Nora Bee says:

    That is so urban! I love how you had to pay for the cab ride. Nice work, that. I just posted my birth story as well. Happy birthday to both our boys (yours is older!)

  6. Robin says:

    Happy birthday Steven.
    I’ve got one like that too, but in my case it was a bit more fast-paced – my daughter was literally born in the back seat of our car at the taxi stand outside the maternity ward. She’s four now and has been setting her own agenda ever since!

  7. Jenn says:

    Happy Birthday Stephen!
    That’s a great birth story indeed 🙂
    I’m going to stop commenting on the fact that you and your family share pretty much all the same birthdays as me and my family because it’s just getting eerie 🙂

  8. Kristen M. says:

    I’ve navigated the buses in Chicago with a baby in one arm and a stroller in the other but never with a pregnant belly. For some reason the bus driver never looked too happy. I also rode the el home from work and was surprised at how few people would offer their seats to me when my belly was taking up the entire aisle where I stood. After that I always offered my seat to any pregnant woman who got on the el.

  9. Tammy says:

    I was born in the back seat of a car. I guess my mom is right I came into this world in a hurry and I’ve been in a hurry ever since. LOL

  10. Wendy says:

    Oh my goodness, we have so much in common! My daughter’s birthday is today–but we got stuck in the traffic for the Arkansas/LSU football game at War Memorial Stadium. Happy birthday to Stephen!

  11. mimi2six says:

    We should have known then that Dryer child #2 would keep us all on our toes! He’s a delightful joy to our whole family. What a kid!!!

  12. Dee/reddirtramblings says:

    I so enjoy your stories. This one reminded me of the time I paced the living room while Handsome Hubby watched the Cotton Bowl. I felt like a mare in labor. Finally, I told him it was time, and we jumped up and raced the 35 minutes to the hospital. My water broke on the way, and well, I was in severe pain for the rest of the drive, and then, I had to walk all the way inside and upstairs to labor and delivery. Maybe I should remind my handsome boy of that on his birthday?

  13. Lorri says:

    well no drama filled stories here – but I enjoy reading others.
    We also had no family closer than 3 hrs when I was preg and went into labor both times. Mostly harder w/our 2nd one b/c we too had to deal w/what will we do w/number 1 child. A friend offered to watch her – but we were not all that close (physically or friendship-ly). Thankfully I was in labor long enough – and with a few hour pause at home – was able to wait til my fil drove mil out to our house. What a relief!

  14. Haether @ Desperately Seeking Sanity says:

    I was living in Philly when mine came, so I can relate to the whole city bus, no car, cab ride to the ER.
    Only, I wish I could’ve taken a cab. My MIL drove me in her teeny tiny miata… and I was a fat cow and she every single bump on the way.
    Great story!
    (PS. I’m in the south now… well, VA… but it’s below the Mason-Dixon line.)

  15. Veggiemomof2 says:

    What a great story! I was almost born in an ambulance on the way to the hospital. I don’t have any cute birth stories of my kids, just that they both landed me back in the hospital afterwards :S

  16. Fran says:

    I do believe that pregnancies and birth stories tell A LOT about the child…my child #2 has a similar story without big drama and he’s the same way….and he walked at 7 months…that ain’t right….and he keeps me on my toes to say the least.
    Happy Birthday!!!

  17. julie says:

    I still can’t picture you living in downtown Chicago! 🙂 You were a brave girl to go to the hospital alone in the middle of the night!
    Happy Birthday to Stephen!

  18. mummymac says:

    I had a close call too but was so thankful to make it.
    Before leaving home I called the delivery room and the midwife said “No pain, no contractions, just wait until you do have” I thankfully ignored her advice (due to previous delivery) and when she say my husband trying to bang the door down she was also glad I had ignored her advice.
    My daughter was born 50 minutes after feeling a little twinge.
    It was a hairy ride to the hospital;-)

  19. Susan says:

    What a crack up. Coincidentally, I did have a preemie in November of 1998. He wasn’t born in a taxi, but it was a pretty dramatic birth!

  20. Sharon@New Urban Mom says:

    3 a.m. in a taxi and baby about to come – I’d be pretty frantic. My son came the day after Christmas…we live about one hour out of the city, we laugh today about the time it took my husband 15 minutes to get from our suburb to the city. How we got to the hospital safely I’ll never know.
    Pretty amazing what “baby’s coming panic” can do to the average level headed person!

  21. Nancy says:

    Happy Birthday … had he been born in a taxi, he may have been a frustrated actor, or a Reverend, or a boxer.
    Sorry, couldn’t pass up on the “Taxi” opportunity =)
    I think most moms agree, “hubs stay home with the other child … I got it handled”.

  22. Ashleigh says:

    Four weeks ago today, my water broke while in the Gap, at a fancy mall in downtown San Diego. That was… fun. 🙂 We made it to the birth center and had our second bebe boy two and a half hours later. His first four weeks have found him a pretty mellow guy, though, so we’re hoping things stay this way. His 19-mos-older brother is enough of an explosion when enters a room for the both of ’em. Happy Birthday to your not-so-little-anymore boy!

  23. Heather@mommymonk says:

    Happy Birthday to the boy! I actually did walk to the hospital with number one. Then with number 2, I almost had a delivery in the car. Seriously, I got the hospital and she just about fell out. The nurses were telling me to fill out paperwork and I just looked at them and said, “I’m having a baby here!” The doctor rushed into the room just in time to catch her. Seriously!

  24. Lauren@Baseballs&Bows says:

    Great story! We had tons of friends nearby, but it made no difference. My daughter decided to make her grand entrance in our garage! We say the same thing about our daughter. She came in with a bang, and she is still our firecracker!

  25. Sincerely Anna says:

    I love your Stephen stories – they paint a visual for what is to come with my 5 y.o. Max. He explodes into a room, too. In fact, he explodes and expands to be the size of the room. But I wouldn’t have it any other way!

  26. Mrs. Pear says:

    What a great story!
    It reminds me of the one my MIL tells of my husband being born.
    When the doctor saw her when she arrived at the hospital he asked her, “And did you want your baby born in the car?”
    My husband arrived before my FIL returned from parking the car!

  27. Nicki says:

    What a story to have and be able to tell! Thank goodness you didn’t have the baby in the cab. The story reminded me of Look Who’s Talking!

  28. litabug says:

    Whoa! This is us right now! We have an almost-18-month-old, a baby due in three weeks, and are living in Boston without a car. I just pray nothing happens before my family gets here!
    And I’m right there with you on the public transportation toddler/stroller/belly thing. Throw in a few bags of groceries and some Christmas shopping, and I look like something from the circus. 😉

  29. michael@sittercity says:

    My mother tells me a similar story on my birthday every year! I was almost born on the Dan Ryan Freeway here in Chicago, stuck in traffic on a hot July day. Then once she got to the hospital, she got stuck in the elevator with a tiny, elderly nun.
    Happy Birthday to Stephen! Nothing like making an entrance…

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