Throughout all the maternity classes, instructional movies and child birth courses, Stephen Hise never thought his first-born child would arrive so unexpectedly and so near a cul-de-sac.
"It wasn't like we expected the first birthday to be," said Hise, whose wife, Debora, gave birth to a healthy baby girl in a Howard County ambulance Sunday. "I guess we expected more of an antiseptic environment."
The baby, Kristen Alexandria Hise, weighed in at 6 pounds, 5 ounces and is doing fine at the couple's home in the 6300 block of Raritan Court. But the road to parenthood was a long, circuitous route for the Hise family.
Debora Hise, 29, an auditor for the U.S. Department of Justice, went into labor around 9 p.m. Saturday as the couple ate dinner at The Last Chance restaurant in Columbia. Amid a conversation about what to name their baby, the expectant mother told her husband she wouldn't be able to finish her meal.
Stephan Hise said the couple had recently taken a course in childbirth at Howard County General Hospital and felt well-prepared for the rigors of labor. After spending several hours at home, the Hises decided to head over to the hospital at about 2 a.m.
But they left the hospital an hour later, with the baby showing signs that she was willing to wait passively for perhaps another day, said Stephan Hise, an engineer for Westinghouse Corp.
But that wasn't the case. Around 9 a.m., the awaiting father called the fire department when Debora Hise's labor became too intense to bear any longer.
"I had the car all packed up and I figured I'd head over to the hospital with it," Stephan Hise said. "The ambulance was turning around in the cul-de-sac and I decided I'd take a shortcut and get there first and wait."
He did get there first. And he waited, he said, what seemed like forever.
He asked the doctors, he asked the nurses. "Are you expecting an ambulance?" They said perhaps there was some delay, that another ambulance had engine trouble and that maybe the ambulance with his wife had stopped to assist.
"I just kept waiting. Then the nurses came out and said, 'You're a father.' I didn't know what was going on," Stephan Hise said. "It was a day like no other."
County paramedics delivered the baby on the roadside of Route 175 near U.S. 29, after realizing that "the birth of the baby was imminent," said county rescue services Lt. Stephen S. Ricker.
For the Hises, it was a wacky culmination of nine months of worry, expectation and preparation. But for the paramedics, it was just another rescue operation carried out to success.
The delivery is the second of the year for county rescue workers, who dub themselves "The Stork Club" in press releases about their deliveries.
The other baby was delivered Feb. 19 in Ellicott City.
"We get between one and six of them a year," said Michael Gearhart, a county rescue services spokesman. "It's exciting, but we get them every now and then. It happens."