Whoa Baby!

The following is a guest post by Lt. Matt Walter, commanding officer of the Coast Guard Cutter Biscayne Bay, describing the chain of events that led up to Walter delivering his own baby in the backseat of a sport utility vehicle on the side of a desolate highway early Monday morning.

Photo of Lora and Matt Walter with their newborn baby

Lora and Lt. Matt Walter pause for a photograph with their newborn baby, Elise Samantha Walter, who they delivered in the backseat of their car on the side of the highway.

At 1:20 a.m. Monday my wife, Lora, gently woke me up, saying,
“Matt, these contractions are really painful,” then immediately hit the deck under the pain of the next wave.

As if responding to the Biscayne Bay’s general-emergency alarm, I was up and dressed, warming up the car while calling the sitter for our two other children.

The sitter was on the way by 1:30 a.m., and Lora and I were discussing how we might not have enough time, normally about 45 minutes, to get to the hospital in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. But Lora assured me that we could make it, so off we went.

We didn’t get too far, though, because only 15 minutes later, Lora was informing me from the backseat that she was ready to push.

Anyone who has ever driven the lonely stretch of I-75 between St. Ignace, Mich., and Sault Ste. Marie knows there are no rest stops or signs of civilization that would provide a safe haven for delivery. Our only option was the shoulder of the highway.

The 911 conversation went something like this,
“911, What is your emergency?”
“Yes my wife is going to have a baby on the side of the highway at mile marker 364.”
“Oh wow, let me get an emergency crew on the way.”

The dispatcher informed us that the emergency crew wouldn’t be there for at least 20 minutes, but stayed on the phone with us the entire time.

“Matt, this baby is coming,” Lora cried from the backseat.

I responded by telling her she had to wait and not to push. But as all good husbands know, wives in labor rarely listen to the pleas of desperate husbands. Lora was right; the baby was not going to wait any longer.

Elise Samantha Walter was born at 1:57 a.m. in the back seat of a Honda Pilot into the waiting arms of this extremely proud and grateful ship captain. Lora performed swimmingly with courage and focus, keeping her composure while delivering a healthy 8-pound, 6-ounce girl.

Emergency crews took my wife and my daughter the rest of the way to the hospital in Sault Ste. Marie, and I followed behind. Everyone is resting comfortably now, and I have the “sea story” of a lifetime to share!