Holly Jantzen made it as far as the French Hospital Medical Center parking lot when Zoë Patrice Jantzen, her second child, slipped almost effortlessly into the world on the front seat of a Toyota Avalon at 10:45 p.m. Friday.
Holly’s water had broken with a “pop” at 10:27 p.m., while she and her husband Garth, both 28, were watching a movie at their home in rural San Luis Obispo.
They were in the car and off in six minutes, as Holly chatted on a cell phone with her mother and friends. But just minutes into the ride, she began experiencing the pain of intense contractions, urging her husband to run red lights and stop signs.
One stoplight away from French Hospital, Holly realized she might not make it inside. “I was screaming at the top of my lungs — I could feel it coming out,” she said.
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Garth stopped outside the hospital’s emergency room, which was locked—but in his panic couldn’t find the doorbell.
Meanwhile Holly could feel the baby crowning, and screamed at Garth to return to the car. As he helped her rip off her pajama pants, another pregnant woman in labor and her husband walked by, and alerted hospital staff by yelling, “Its head is out!” emergency room nurse Sonny Valdez said.
Just one push later, Zoë was born into her father’s arms.
For several shaky seconds, Holly and Garth admired their new 6 pound, 12 ounce baby daughter in the dim orange light of the emergency room entrance, speechless.
Then came the parade of medical professionals, who burst out of the waiting room with a suction to get the baby breathing properly and a blanket to keep her warm. With medical tools splayed on the hood and a paramedic on the roof of the car with a flashlight, a physician clamped the umbilical cord.
Less than 20 minutes had passed since Holly’s water broke. Charlotte Ault, director of the obstetrics department at French, has seen a range of labors lasting from three minutes to three days, she said — but usually they last at least a few hours.
Once safely inside the hospital with her baby, Holly laughed and cried as she called her parents, who with the Jantzens own Higher Groundz Coffee House and Eatery in San Luis Obispo.
“You can tell mom to take her time,” she said to her father.
Since receiving Holly’s first call that her water had broken, Laurie Stewart had quickly dressed, sipped a cup of tea and made a sandwich. She had imagined her daughter would be hungry after a long night of labor.