(by Steve Mersinger Jr., about the birth of Caleb, born 09.14.07)
"You can take the Mersingers out of Kentucky but you can't take the Kentucky out of the Mersingers." -ancient redneck wisdom
So most of you are wondering, who are these people again? It's been a while since we've communicated with the outside world, sorry! A lot has been going on and we'll fill you in with more details later on. For now, the best thing for me to do is hop right to the Story of Caleb and "the DGC" (Dodge Grand Caravan). It's a delightful tale in which no exaggerations need occur. I do have the gift of exaggeration but what you're about to hear requires none of my skill, and you'll see why!
Most of you know that nearly 21 months ago we popped Naomi out on a Lazy Boy in Kentucky. Little did we know that it would cause a deep curse to be placed upon our family.
Approximately 4pm on 9/13/2007 Shannon Mersinger started to receive increased contractional activity. So we went to Applebees. Dinner was good and stuff. Around 7pm those contractions got even crazier so I (Steve Mersinger Jr.) drove Naomi to my parents for them to watch her. By the time I returned Shannon's contractions were causing her to spurt profanity and throw stuff (slight exaggeration).
After 24 hours of labor with Naomi, we didn't want to rush off to the birthing center and end up having to turn around if she wasn't dilated enough. However, Shannon's mom, Kitty, with crazy wide eyes said "it's 45 minutes away, we should leave". I'm not one to ignore the advice of someone who has popped out nine kids, but Shannon wanted to wait until she was having minute long contractions (she likes to feel the burn!). The contractions were only lasting 40 seconds so she didn't want to leave quite yet.
However, they were starting to be only 2 minutes apart. So eventually, at midnight, we couldn't outlast Kitty's gaze of foreknowledge saying if you don't leave soon you're going to pop this baby out in the van on the way.
We packed Shannon up, I was already tired from pushing on her back and felt like I needed to rest for the long night ahead of us. So when she asked me to let her mom drive and hop in the back with her, I nobly (cowardly) deferred to her mom and said I needed to drive. We were about five minutes from the house (on a 45 minute trip) when Shannon cries "oh my God, my water broke."
I grinned and thought "of course her water broke, why wouldn't it."
I then beat the crap out of my weak stomach and told myself that placenta stuff smells like roses and continued driving. Kitty had me call the mid-wife and fill her in on what was going on. She remarked how calm I sounded, I replied that freaking out wouldn't help (besides, we had hours left in this thing). The phone call ended and was met by an abrupt cry by Shannon "I feel his head!"
Surely this was intense emotional overreaction.
Shannon's mom checked and I was right again! But Kitty said, you need to drive faster. So I cruised up to 55 in a 45. She said faster and I said I didn't want to get pulled over. Then three words shook my steel like confidence "yes you do!" I suddenly wondered about all of those roadside birth stories and got this grin on my face that I wish someone had recorded. I thought what a cool story it would be to have Caleb in a vehicle, but reality set in that this kind of thing doesn't really happen, or if it does certainly not to people like us (heavy foreshadowing, but you're doubting aren't you?).
I eventually found myself cruising up to 75mph in a 45 and running red lights. While my wife was in intense pain, I was experiencing my dream! I've always wanted to get chased by cops and outrun them in a piece of crap car, now my son was giving me the perfect excuse. 10 minutes down the interstate doing 20 over still hadn't drawn out any coppers. Shannon started saying something about pushing, I checked the vomit from my esophagus, and realized that I had a job to do. Faster and faster we sped, while pieces began to shake on the van threatening to fly off and solidify our roadside appointment with destiny. I saw flashing lights up ahead and decided to take matters into my own hands. As I stopped halfway in the third lane of traffic (in SW FL where everyone is in bed by 7), I jumped out of the van and ran for the state trooper who sat in his vehicle grinning like a hall monitor who's hopped up on impotent power and pop rocks. I said to him "sir, I don't know how important this issue HERE is but my wife is in labor and I was hoping you could give us an escort." I'm not sure that he knew what labor was or if he'd ever seen a woman naked, but he looked panicked and said I"ll call an ambulance. I told him that was unnecessary and we were fine, we were just hoping for an escort. He told me that he could call an ambulance but wasn't allowed to escort us. I think he was scared. I said no problem and ran back for the van. During my sprint I noticed two forms hanging into the passenger window from the outside. Two women from the "accident speeding violation whatever was going on there" were staring at my wife while she screamed and bled and pooped all over the interior of our van. They began screaming like crack addict banshees telling me to get her to the hospital. I'm pretty sure that if I hadn't instantly sped away they would have climbed inside and rode with us screaming the whole way.
We found the trooper about 3 miles from our exit. As we got off I put my game face back on, dreamt of nice, pleasant smells, and determined to tear up Fruitville road. This is a long road filled with lights that like to get in your head and tell you how they own you. I wasn't having it; I came off the interstate and flew through the red light making a statement. Shannon was doing great but I started catching random phrases like "feeling the head" and "need to push" and "he's coming" and I felt a bit unnerved (slight underexaggeration). We were about 10 minutes from the birthing center and I heard a sound come from her that screamed "baby is being shoved out of me as I groan." I'm cutting into turn lanes and around traffic stopped at red lights flashing my brights and honking; varying between 75 and 90 mph depending on how close the next light was.
Kitty tells me that I have to call the midwife again and tell her that Shannon is starting to push. I reach to the passenger seat to find the number again and realize it's gone! I look everywhere and it finally smiles at me obnoxiously from up in the corner near the passenger door. Dodge Grand Caravans are larger than you might realize and the only way for me to get that number was to bust out some crazy Tony Hawk move while I'm flying down this road. So I look around and realize there are no cars which makes swerving an acceptable maneuver, I take the steering wheel in my left hand and get out of my seat, step across, and grab the paper with my right hand. We managed to stay between the three lanes of traffic during this. I get the number dialed in and as the phone is ringing I hear a sound like Jim Carrey coming out of the fake Rhino in Ace Ventura 2. The midwife picks up as I hear my son cry and all I can say is "it's a boy!"
My grin from earlier comes back as I realize that my freakin' awesome wife just popped a kid on the front bench seat of our Dodge Grand Caravan. Kitty, mother of 10, winner of 33 consecutive wife mother of the year awards (not to be confused with the mother/wife award) just delivered our kid while swerving across three lanes of traffic doing 75 mph down Fruitville road. All I can do is shout "Caleb, holy shit you are so freakin cool, you were just born in a van!" I love my family!
I told Harmony, our midwife, that I was still flying there and would get there as quick as possible but Caleb was crying, sounded fine, and Shannon seemed totally fine as well.
We pulled in to the birthing center, got Shannon and Caleb in and cleaned off. Homeboy is 7lbs 4oz and somewhere between 20 and 21 inches (he was squirmy). He was born near the intersection of Fruitville Rd. and Lockwood Ridge Rd. in Sarasota, FL at 12:32am 9/14/2007. He's super chill and looks a good bit like Shannon.
On our way home around 4:15am Shannon said "it's pretty crazy that we keep having our kids on things that our friends and family might have to sit on." Quote of the year!
Also notable: Aunt Jackie was coming for the birth, but missed out. She wouldn't have made it anyways, unless she jumped in our van as we sped down the road, but she stopped at 7-11 for flowers and mentos. Like 35-55 percent of you, she did not believe me when I said we popped Caleb in the van. Unlike 35-55 percent of you, she got to see Caleb and find out that I didn't even need to exaggerate this story (though a little spicing up never hurts). So for those of you that think this is as big of a ploy as last pregnancy's modeling of Rob Raborn in a diaper (can't ever get enough of that, personally I love saucy pics of Rob), you'll have to wait a day or two to call and get Shannon's confirmation, but she has read this and fully approves of the facts, details, and spicy anecdotes that lie within.