By Gabe Licht
MAPLE PLAIN, MN Be careful what you joke about; it just may happen.
Justin and Caroline McCoy, of Maple Plain, learned that lesson firsthand.
The joke was that their son, Landon, might be delivered in their car.
At 3:46 a.m. Dec. 18, that joke became reality near the intersection of Highway 5 and Carver County Road 30, just two miles from Ridgeview Medical Center in Waconia.
Though that wasn’t how his parents planned their son’s entrance into the world, he wasn’t necessarily early, either, as Landon was due Dec. 11.
“I was supposed to get induced Wednesday morning (Dec. 17), but it was so full in the hospital they rescheduled it for Friday morning, but we didn’t end up needing it,” Caroline said.
She woke up at 2:30 a.m. Dec. 18 with contractions about five minutes apart from each other. Shortly thereafter, she woke up Justin and they decided to start driving to the hospital, dropping off their 2-and-one-half-year-old daughter, Madelyn, with Justin’s parents along the way.
Caroline’s contractions were getting closer and were just two or three minutes apart at the intersection of Hennepin County roads 6 and 110.
“They were getting pretty intense,” Caroline said. “By the time we got to (Hennepin County roads) 6 and 92, they were definitely two minutes apart.”
Justin called hospital staff to give them a heads up.
“That’s about the time when I said, ‘I have the urge to push,’” Caroline said. “He said, ‘Don’t push.’ Obviously, I was trying not to, but didn’t really have an option.”
By the time the couple reached Highway 7 on Hennepin County Road 92 in St. Bonifacius, Landon made it clear he wasn’t waiting any longer as he started to crown.
Justin and Caroline had a decision to make: pull over, call 911 and wait for an ambulance, or keep driving?
“I’m a firefighter, so I understand response times,” Justin said. “In the west suburbs, they could be 15-20 minutes out on a normal night.
I asked, ‘Do we stop and wait or keep going and get to the hospital?’”
“When I was between contractions, I said, ‘Keep going because, by the time the ambulance would get there, he’d be out anyway, so we might as well get there as soon as possible,’” Caroline said.
As the couple passed Island View Golf Club and neared Waconia, Landon was born. They had one more opportunity to stop, as they passed a police officer who had someone pulled over on the shoulder. Once again, Justin asked if he should pull over and, once again, Caroline instructed him to keep going.
“In my mind, I didn’t want to open the door because he’d be freezing,” Caroline said. “The more hot air we could keep in the car, the better it would be.”
At first, they were also concerned because Landon took about a minute to start crying.
“That’s a long time when you know he needs to cry,” Caroline said.
His umbilical chord was looped around his neck, so Caroline moved it and cradled him to her chest. With no blankets, she held him as closely as possible to keep him warm as they pulled up to the hospital.
“I ran into the ER and said, ‘My wife just had a baby in the car,’” Justin said. “They said, ‘You have to be kidding me. No way.’”
Justin pulled the vehicle into the ambulance garage where hospital staff met them, took them to the labor and delivery room, cut the umbilical chord and called the doctor.
They assured Justin and Caroline they had done the right thing.
“They never once made us feel like we made the wrong decision,” Justin said. “They assured me we did it the right way.”
In the midst of the situation, Caroline said she didn’t have much time to think about what was happening.
“It was kind of like instinct kicked in,” Caroline said. “I did what I had to do and tried not to think too hard about it.”
At the hospital, Landon weighed in at 8 pounds 13 ounces and measured 20 inches long. He was released from the hospital at 7 p.m. the following day.
“He’s over a week old and happy and healthy,” Caroline said. “He’s eating well and is everything we could ask for.”
He brings a smile to his parents’ face in more ways than one, given his health and the way he came into the world in the first place.
“Every time I look at Landon, I kind of chuckle,” Justin said.
He and Caroline had joked about Landon being born on the move.
“It was funny because, for about a month, we had been joking with friends about delivering in the car,” Caroline said. “A week and a half before my due date, we went to his grandparents’ house in southwestern Minnesota. Justin had an OB kit put in our car just in case.”
Ironically, the kit went unused as it wasn’t within reach when Caroline went into labor.
Caroline and Justin are looking forward to sharing the story with Landon when he is older.
They will forever be thankful that it had a happy ending.
“Faith is important to us,” Justin said. “We’re thankful the Lord was watching out for us and everything went well.”