New arrival is a bouncing baby, indeed, after mother's long, icy ride to hospital

February 27, 1994|By Suzanne Loudermilk | Suzanne Loudermilk,Sun Staff Writer

On one of the iciest days of the year, Jacob Donovan Queen decided to be born.

His parents, Kari and Derek Queen of Bel Air, will never forget the treacherous, 1 1/2 -hour car ride to Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore, and the help of the Harford County highways department and nurse-midwife Hilles Whedbee.

As Mrs. Queen recounted the day, 2-week-old Jacob -- "with his father's nose and mother's ears" -- slept peacefully in the family's Oak Ridge rancher unaware of the excitement his arrival had caused.

"I can't wait for him to get older, so I can ground him," said Mrs. Queen with a laugh.

The frozen, slippery roads earlier this month, however, were no laughing matter.

The baby was a week overdue when Mrs. Queen awoke shortly after 1 a.m. Feb. 9 to the first twinges of labor contractions and the hard beating of sleet against the bedroom window.

She waited until 6 a.m. to call Ms. Whedbee, who would come to the house and check Mrs. Queen's condition before she and her husband went to the hospital for the birth of their first child.

The couple were concerned that Ms. Whedbee, who lives in Cockeysville, would not be able to get to Bel Air.

"She was our lifeline," Mrs. Queen said. "She was going to deliver our child."

They called the Maryland State Police, who reported that the main roads were clear, although the secondary roads were icy.

Meanwhile, Ms. Whedbee began her two-hour trek to Harford County -- a trip that normally takes about 40 minutes, she said.

Mrs. Queen waited and worried about her own road, as the pelting ice continued to fall.

"Our cul-de-sac never sees the plows," she said. "I was looking out the window and watching cars fishtail on our street."

She finally called the county Department of Public Works.

"I remember the call," said Gerald M. Eller, superintendent of highways. "We treated it like an ambulance call."

At the time, county trucks were accompanying the emergency vehicles and paving the way with sand and salt.

But a county ambulance couldn't respond to Mrs. Queen's call because she wanted to go to Union Memorial in Baltimore.

"It was a blue alert," said Mr. Eller, explaining that in severe weather the fire department is restricted from taking patients to distant hospitals.

About an hour after the call, the county truck showed up and laid down a path of yellow sand from the beginning of the 750-foot court to the Queens' driveway at the end of the street.

"It was wonderful to watch," said Ms. Whedbee, who had arrived safely before the truck. "It was like a yellow brick road."

Eventually, the Queens and Ms. Whedbee set out for the hospital. "Since it was the first baby, I wasn't worried that we would get there in time," Ms. Whedbee said, a reference to the fact that a first-time mother may be in labor longer.

During the arduous ride, Ms. Queen huffed and puffed through )) her natural-childbirth breathing and occasionally "punched at the windows," she said.

They arrived at the hospital around 4:30 that afternoon, and at 9:26 p.m., the 8-pound, 9-ounce baby made his appearance.

Mrs. Queen and her son were snug at home on a recent rainy afternoon, hoping the worst was over.

"He's put us through quite a lot," said the 21-year-old mother, glancing at Jacob, who had given his parents another scare after his birth. After arriving home, the baby had started running a high temperature and had to return to the hospital for three days.

All is well now and, as Ms. Queen cheerfully said, "I don't think anything could faze me."

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