Couple with baby on the way endure treacherous and memorable journey

Woman in labor, husband get caught on icy roads

January 11, 2002|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

Despite her contractions getting closer, Lisa Griffin didn't panic until an hour had passed and she and her husband had moved only one mile.

During the ice Wednesday morning that snarled traffic on Baltimore-area roads, Griffin's water broke about 7 a.m. Her baby was on the way.

Griffin, a sixth-grade reading teacher at Harper's Choice Middle School in Columbia, and her husband, Troy, jumped into their sport utility vehicle -- trying to get from their home in Eldersburg in Carroll County to Sinai Hospital in Baltimore.

They soon learned that the trip would not be easy. Traffic on the thoroughfare they chose, Liberty Road, was bumper-to-bumper as Griffin's contractions became more frequent.

"We were helpless," said Troy Griffin, 28. "We couldn't move forward, and we couldn't move back. We were stuck."

Troy Griffin tried turning on his hazard lights and driving on the shoulder, but it was too slick for even his four-wheel-drive vehicle. The couple's next thought was to call 911.

"It was busy," said Lisa Griffin, 27. "We finally got through, and the lady asked where we wanted the ambulance to go and then the line cut off."

Troy Griffin decided to call his mother, Shirley. As he told her where they were, she relayed the information to dispatchers on another phone.

"I was on with him, and I had the other line calling 911," Shirley Griffin said. "The dispatchers were asking me how far apart the contractions were."

Lisa and Troy Griffin made it to Baltimore County and decided to meet the paramedics at Charlie's Gas Station at Wards Chapel Road near the county line.

"Troy said he was going to nickname the baby Charlie," Lisa Griffin said, chuckling.

With many of their ambulances tied up on other calls, Baltimore County dispatchers sent a firetruck to the scene. The truck passed the waiting couple, who had to follow it to get the driver's attention.

Dispatchers began making arrangements for Lisa Griffin to give birth in the truck's cab.

"If the ambulance wasn't going to make it, they were going to put me in that truck," Griffin said.

An ambulance did arrive and began carrying the Griffins to the hospital. The harrowing experience, though, wasn't over.

At one point, the ambulance swerved on the ice; the veteran driver told the couple he hadn't seen the roads that bad in 40 years.

At the hospital, Lisa Griffin's mother, Theresa Hafeles, was also starting to panic.

She had received a call at 8:30 a.m. informing her that the couple were on their way to Baltimore. At 9 a.m., she began to worry, unaware of the ice that gripped northwest Baltimore County.

"I didn't know what happened," she said yesterday. "I was in downtown Baltimore, where it was just raining."

The Griffins arrived at Sinai with little time to spare.

"When they got here," Shirley Griffin said, "doctors said they could see what color the baby's hair was."

At 11:17 a.m., Lisa Griffin gave birth to Isabella Marie Griffin, who weighed 7 pounds, 7 ounces.

The family has spent much of their time recounting the delivery. They won't soon forget it, they said, and will one day tell Isabella.

"I wonder how she'll get to her wedding," Hafeles said.

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