Speedy delivery: Carlton couple’s second child born in back of SUV
By John Lundy on Mar 27, 2015 at 5:16 p.m.
Justin and Carolyn Jahr’s second child was due on Easter.
“The Easter bunny brought her a little early,” said Carolyn, 30, as she held newborn Everly in her arms on Friday afternoon in the birthing center at Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth.
The Jahrs had driven only a few blocks away from their home on Hay Lake near Carlton before dawn on Friday when Justin pulled off at county roads 3 and 101 in their Hyundai Santa Fe SUV. The plan was for the baby to be delivered at St. Mary’s, about a 40-minute drive from their home, but it was clear that wasn’t going to happen.
Justin, 35, a Cloquet firefighter and paramedic, already had called 911, requesting that a Carlton ambulance meet them at their station or on the road. “I told the dispatcher I hope we don’t have to deliver in the car,” a tired Justin Jahr recalled as he stood next to his wife, his newborn and older daughter Adeline, 20 months. “But we didn’t make it very far.”
Carolyn, a physician assistant in general surgery at St. Luke’s hospital, had awakened about 3:45 in the morning experiencing a few contractions, she said, but they were sporadic. She woke up Justin an hour later, but the contractions still were irregular. He had time to take a shower, she said.
But Carolyn has a bit of a history of speedy deliveries. When Adeline was born, Justin said, he thought he might have to call for help when they got to Thompson Hill. They barely made it to St. Mary’s in time. “When it comes to all the rules of labor, Carolyn kind of breaks all the rules,” he said. “There’s no regularity or any kind of rhythm to her contractions, so it’s virtually impossible to time them.”
By the time Justin was out of the shower, the contractions “were coming one right after another,” Carolyn said. Justin was well-prepared. Carlton firefighters take OB kits home with them as a precaution when babies are nearing their due dates, he said. They contain the basics: towels, an umbilical cord clamp. He grabbed his kit from the closet as they set out.
Carolyn’s water broke as soon as she got in the SUV, she said. The baby wasn’t going to be born in a hospital. “When we got in the car she made that apparent,” Justin said, as a group of excited family members gathered in the birthing room laughed. “She said, ‘We’re not going to make it.’ So I’m like, ‘Great.’ ” They were less than half a mile from home when Carolyn told Justin she could feel pressure. He stopped and called 911 again with their location. It was still dark, and cold. The temperature then was in the upper teens, according to the National Weather Service.
Justin got into the back seat to help his wife as a Carlton County sheriff’s deputy and an ambulance crew arrived. With about five pushes, their baby entered the world at 6:10 a.m. Justin “pretty much did the work himself,’’ said Sgt. Jesse Peterson of the Carlton County Sheriff’s Office. He told it differently. “Carolyn did all the work,” Justin said. “I just facilitated.”
Mom, Dad and baby were taken by ambulance to St. Mary’s, where the healthy baby was weighed at 7 pounds, 1 ounces and measured 20 inches. A sheriff’s deputy drove their birthing center on wheels back to the Jahr home. They had planned a natural birth anyway, Carolyn said. “We were just really surprised at how fast it went,” she said. “I think if we have a third, we’re going to head in the minute I think something’s going on.”
News Tribune reporter John Myers contributed to this report.