Born on the Fourth of July — Chapter 21

By Tammy Keith Published July 6, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.
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The Fourth of July is always special, but this one commemorated a milestone at my house.

My “baby” turned 21.

As of this writing, he is trying to squeeze me in for an hour on his birthday. He already had lunch plans with a friend, and then he’s working — delivering pizzas.

Speaking of delivering, I am now going to retell the story of his birth. For the ones of you who have heard this and cannot bear it again, you may go to another article, read the ads or otherwise occupy yourself.

In my defense, I will say that I quit writing about giving birth in the car after an incident with Dave Barry, the famous humor writer.

I met Dave (I feel I can call him that) when he came to speak at the University of Central Arkansas. The UCA photographer is a former co-worker and friend of mine. I thought.

When Dave asked me what kind of column I wrote, I tried to be demur and asked my “friend” to describe my column.

“I don’t know, but she writes about having a baby in the car every year,” he said.

I was embarrassed, to say the least. So, based on this one interaction, I gave it a rest.

I’m rested.

This is a story that has scared many a pregnant woman.

I was in Malvern, visiting my in-laws and my husband’s grandmother to celebrate her 95th birthday.

It was hotter than Dutch love, and I had a bun in the oven.

As I lumbered through stores downtown on July 3, a woman in an antique store eyed my humongous belly and pointed at me.

She said I would have the baby that night, because it was a full moon.

As we sat on car hoods that evening and watched fireworks in the distance, I looked at that full moon warily. I wasn’t due for a couple of weeks.

Sure enough, at 2 a.m.-ish (you tend to forget things 21 years later), I woke up. It was happening. So, I did the normal thing — I put on some makeup.

I soothed my then-3 1/2-year-old son, who woke up when he heard us. I told my mother-in-law what was happening, and off we went to the hospital.

The nurse checked me out and called the doctor, who said we could make it to North Little Rock.

The nurse told us to “hurry — don’t stop for anything.” That should have been our first clue.

My husband decided to put his contacts in before starting that drive because he is almost legally blind without them. I thought it was time well spent.

My pains started immediately, and my husband drove faster and faster. At one point, he saw blue lights going the other way on the interstate, but he didn’t slow down. The cop didn’t chase us, either.

I kept asking my husband if we were gonna make it, and he assured me we were.

We did — to the parking lot. He first went to the wrong entrance, squealed around to the emergency room entrance and ran in to find a doctor.

Meanwhile, I was having my own little firecracker explosion.

I was sitting in the front seat of the Bonneville, henceforth known as the birthmobile. Time waits for no man, or baby that’s ready to be born.

Scott Robert Keith made his appearance as my husband came back to the car, a hospital employee sauntering behind him, pushing a wheelchair.

It was too late for that. Scott wasn’t making a sound, so my husband helped deliver him.

The doctor — whose shocked face peering into the car is an image I remember — cut the umbilical cord.

It was 4:22 a.m. by the car clock.

Fast forward 21 years — and it has been lightning fast.

My husband and I are trying to get it worked out to see our son on his birthday, and he doesn’t know what the big deal is.

“You’ve seen me; you gave birth to me,” he said.

He was in a vehicle accident a couple of weeks ago — not his fault — and his pitiful old car is totaled.

We’re going shopping to find him another one.

It seems an appropriate way to celebrate this milestone.

And writing this column.

I promise not to write it again till he’s 30.

Senior writer Tammy Keith may be reached at (501) 327-0370 or

Niche Publications Senior Writer Tammy Keith can be reached at 501-327-0370 or