Birth. The moment our life physically begins, when our souls are presented to the world as we instantly start shaping ourselves and eventual destiny. The majority of us are rewarded for completing this first rite of passage by being presented to our families in a comfortable hospital setting that ensures health and sanity for all involved. Some, however, receive a more exceptional introduction to this world.
My Uber experiences have afforded me opportunities to bear witness to events and personalities I'd never imagined before I placed the magical “U” decal on my front window. Arguments, threats, love, lust, passion, anger, apparent adultery, divorce initiations, and even a marriage proposal have transpired within the inviting setting of my Toyota Yaris. I have unintentionally fulfilled my life-long dream of being a sociologist by driving the unfiltered public to their places of leisure in the wee hours of the morning. Suffice it to say, I felt assured that no incident would ever arise again within my car that I was not prepared for. As usual, I could not have been more wrong.
Friday and Saturday evenings provide ample opportunity to make a decent profit if one drives during dinner rush and the club runs. Three weeks ago I sought to do just that for a profitable end to January. When surge pricing in the Mt. Pleasant area became most agreeable I drove to the area to receive a ride “ping”. As soon as I arrived near Black Beard’s Cove this occurred and I immediately answered.
My rider flung open her home’s door before my car stopped. When I turned my car around to her, I got full wind of the situation. It was only her, and what a state! Long brunette hair semi-straightened and left down, blue flats with the backs not fully on yet, and a blue polka dot maternity dress that replicated Kate Middleton’s when she left hospital with her son. Add to the maternity dress was a bump clearly indicating third trimester of pregnancy and a suitcase being tugged on by her and the intent of the ride becomes clear.
I rush to the yard to meet her half way and assist her, and then I notice it: not only is she in labor, but apparently the high delay due to surge has forced her to wait longer than desired, for the front of her dress was soaked due to her water breaking.
“Leave this here, and let’s get you in first”, I tell her, hiding my confusion as to why she sought Uber instead of an ambulance. After placing her in the back, with future dry cleaning used as padding for her, I grab her suitcase and return to get her to safety.
“I assume I know where your destination is” I say to her as we turn to leave her residence, and "Kate" gives me a weak smile. “Bon Secours” she says, and I type in the address to the destination reader on the app. The address given is in West Ashley; with normal traffic this would be a minimum 30-minute trip. I go to retype the name, thinking there is a Mount Pleasant branch, but again I get West Ashley. My next step is to ensure Kate has the hospital name correct.
“Just to be sure you said Bon Secours, but you know where that..” is all she lets me say.
“DAMN IT I KNOW what the place is, now will you just take me there and shut up?!” She informs me, and I realize then we’ve been sitting in the same spot for over five minutes. I proceed to inform the app of where we are going and begin to take us on 17 towards her destination.
Relieved we are moving, Kate apologizes to me and explains the situation. This is she and her husband’s first child, and it’s approximately two weeks early. Continuing on, she informs me that with that itinerary in mind her husband traveled to Atlanta for one more business trip thinking they had more time. Highlighting her combined OCD and personal desires, she wants to go to Bon Secours because all of her girlfriends have gone there, and she knows people there.
Her calling Uber was instinct, she says. “You guys are always so reliable and normally right there in less than a minute” she says. Besides, she tells me “even like this I know I have several more hours to go in this state, and I just wanted the quickest way there”.
“No problem”, I tell her. Far be it for me to inform a woman in the process of releasing a new human being into the world (while providing me income) of the faults in her logic. First time babies take a damn long time, I’ve been told, so I also buy into her thinking that time is on her side.
Kate feels a contraction, and for support I grab her hand. I now have an appreciation for the poor souls who do that throughout the entire experience; I am convinced there is at least bone broken by Kate somewhere in my hand. Ignoring the pressure, we drive on. Music always soothes my soul, and I combine this with humor to keep Kate relieved during this time.
“Hey I have the best song ever for this” I tell Kate as she goes through what I notice is a stronger and longer than last time contraction. “Yeah? Put it on then” she tells me, clearly trying not to show me how much she regrets her decision to call me instead of proper personnel. Instantly, Salt-n-Pepa’s Push It comes on, and Kate’s laughter fills the whole Yaris as we share an inside joke together.
“You’re right that’s so damn perfect!” She tells me, and we edge on 17 while we both sing the chorus and laugh how the “push it real good” lyric resembles something more adult-like when said fast enough. We only make it another mile when Kate says what is without question the scariest thing ever told to me.
“Oh My God you’ve got to pull over now; I have to push!” She tells me. “Did you say pass gas, that’s funny!” I tell her, trying to avoid what was just told me. My attempt is in vain. “Pull over now dammit!” She says, and I quickly do so while avoiding breaking down.
Everyone handles stressful situations different, so I refuse to pass judgement. When in uncomfortable situations, I tend to handle them until they are overcome and then realize the magnitude of them after the fact. Kate insists on my checking on her to see if I, as a simple lay person, thinks she should push. Only the threat of eventual death on her part provides enough courage for me to do as she commands, and I quickly learn that mother indeed does know best.
I admit my childbirth knowledge is limited; it’s just not a skillset that I require at this moment, so the brain cells used for storing that material are currently occupied by cat videos or random history facts. But one fact is obvious to all: when a head is emerging, it is time for action to take place. After an initial reaction of fear, the adult me returns to the situation and tries to assure Kate that all will be well.
A hastily placed call to 911 informs that we are indeed seeing the emergence of a baby and likely the entire person will grace us with its presence shortly. I am assured help is on the way, after receiving a well-deserved admonishing from the operator that I should not be the person handling this situation. Don’t I freakin' know it, I think to myself. But the damage is done. Baby will wait for no one, and Kate’s ready for it to be over.
Thank God for instinct, because at that moment Kate feels the need to push again, and with the operator’s blessing I let her do so. Pushing while I count to ten helps Kate get focused, gives her something to do besides panic. I look down, and see a head emerging. Ignoring Kate’s screams that shatter my ears temporarily, she pushes again and again, and finally after three times a head emerges. Offering her a quick rest falls on deaf ears (mine), for Kate is feeling the burn, and goes on.
After numerous counts to ten, head is added by the emergence of shoulder one, then shoulder two, and finally with a little help and pull from Auntie Uber Driver, the entire baby emerges, followed by everything else in the equation. A little dark-haired boy, huzzah! Kate is relieved; no other crying from a man could make a woman as happy as the one possessed by her new little guy has, and with the situation over I am happy for her.
Remaining in my car unclaimed is a fleece pull over. Since it's for a good cause, I place Kate’s little "William" (not his real name either) in it, when finally the lights of medical assistance flash. Having experienced a fire as a teenager, I have a fear of ambulances, yet in this case I would have kissed the vehicle if it would have mattered. I move out of the way for the professionals to take over, removing Kate and William from my possession into theirs.
It is only when all parties leave that I partially collapse from exhaustion and adrenaline. Even though I had just placed new seat covers in my car for the evening, my car was shot from the experience, and I possessed no desire to take any one else on for the night if I could. Thank goodness for surge pricing!
Wild Ride does not begin to cover my experience with Kate. I feel riddled with guilt since I learned, after-the-fact, that there was a hospital not even 5 miles from us (I live in North Charleston so no hating on me for not knowing,) and that we were likely close to so many options. Should I have forced her to go somewhere else than what she wanted? I am also so grateful that little William decided to come out with little fanfare.
Thanks to the experience I followed the example of Southern Charm’s Cameron Eubanks and You Tubed vaginal births. So many ways it can go wrong folks! Yet I am also proud. Proud mostly of Kate for working with a strange woman to bring her child into the world, and proud I was able to help.
But honestly, I am happy to return to non-birthing people and their issues when it comes to my Uber time! Bring on the drunks and the sexy times!