I Gave Birth in a Subaru

And look who’s racing now

Carol Offen
Human Parts
Published in
5 min readSep 23, 2023

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Photo by sporlab on Unsplash

I’d been having contractions all day, but the midwife said they were “prodromal,” meaning they weren’t advancing anything. This could go on for days, she warned.

But then I took a hot bath and suddenly we were on an accelerated schedule. I called her again to report the increased frequency and intensity of the contractions. Okay, she said, meet her at the clinic, which was across the street from the Durham hospital—more than a half-hour drive from our Chapel Hill home.

I needed my husband’s help to get up from the toilet and make it to the door of our apartment. Once outside Neil propped me up against the wall of the mailboxes in front of our garden apartment complex. While he was moving the car to get closer to our sidewalk, my water broke. Oh boy. I knew what that meant.

I‘d completed the childbirth classes although this wasn’t my first child. Nine years had passed since our son, Paul, was born, and his birth took place in another language (French) and country (France), so I figured I could use a refresher in English. We’d made up a birth plan like the rest of the soon-to-be parents. Everything would be just so: no drugs, no episiotomy, no immediate cutting of the umbilical cord, yada yada.

But childbirth doesn’t always follow a script.

Neil moved the car and came back to help me to the curb and into the back seat. Then he started the engine— or tried to. No sound. No nothing. He tried again. Still nothing. It was dead. This made no sense — he had just moved it a minute before.

It was late afternoon on a beautiful September day, so a lot of neighbors were outside, witnessing this scene. A neighbor rushed toward us and said “let me try.” He reasonably assumed that Neil was just too nervous. He tried. Still nothing. Okay, we’ll have to take our other car, we said. But as we were moving my blanket and big pillow — and me — into the car parked a few yards away, the neighbor, whom we didn’t know other than by sight, said, “No — get in my car, I’ll drive.”

We accepted his kind offer partly because the change of plans enabled Neil to be at my side in the back seat of their Subaru. As we bumped along at breakneck speed, I was clearly in advanced labor (the baby was…

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Carol Offen
Human Parts

I’m a living kidney donor and author. I try to find the humor in any situation (including kidney donation).