The Elephant Child Arrives

Karen Radford Treanor 


© Copyright 2015  by Karen Radford Treanor

Photo of an auto accident.

Some families have a knack for turning normal events into high drama; some can only manage farce. Our family usually produces a hybrid. In March 1998 we had a weekend one would not willingly repeat, although it has become progressively more entertaining as time goes on.

Shortly before midnight on the Friday my elder daughter Bethany went into labour while visiting us for the weekend. Her brother Eamon said he’d drive her to the hospital but not without me, because “I don’t want to see anything icky.” We borrowed a cousin’s station wagon which had been left in our garage, as I felt it could function as an impromptu delivery room if required. At the hospital we hung about the waiting room while the midwife checked Beth over. Of course, everything stopped—again—but they decided to keep her in overnight. Fortunately, her twin girls were staying with the other grandparents for the weekend. However, her partner was at a friend’s house and we couldn’t think of his last name (the friend, not Stuart), so couldn’t call him. If we’d had Beth’s phone with its list of numbers that would have helped, but it was in the carefully packed suitcase we’d left in my kitchen. Eamon and I paced the floor in the waiting room and watched a “Get Smart” rerun and several Ab-Fab Telesales shows before being sent home at 3.30 a.m. Saturday.

About 8 a.m. my younger daughter rang to say she’d run over a brick on the highway on her way to work and blown a tyre and had no tyre iron. Could Eamon please come rescue her?

At 9 a.m. Beth rang to say they were sending her home, and could someone please come and get her?

I rang Erin on her mobile phone and told her to send her brother onwards to the hospital once he’d fixed her up. He duly arrived, fixed her flat, and she went off to work. Eamon went on his way, and was a few miles from the hospital when a man in a four-wheel drive “assumed there was no-one behind the bus” as he later testified, and went through an intersection at speed, collecting Eamon along the way.

Eamon rang me on his mobile whilst still trapped in the somewhat-worse-for-wear car, to say he was alive and seemed uninjured and that some nice people were picking glass out of him through the stove-in door and trying to get him out, and he could hear sirens on the way.

He rang off and I rang the hospital to tell Beth (a) don’t panic and (b) we’d be late picking her up. I felt it would do no good to tell her why we were delayed, so omitted that part of the story. Beth later rang back to say she had found Stuart and he was on his way to get her.

I rang Eamon back on his mobile and listened to him fight off the ambulance men, who finally decided he was probably o.k., having extracted him from the wreck via the passenger window.

Then the police arrived (handily this all happened a stone’s throw from Police Central) and wanted a statement, after which Eamon asked for his father to come and get him. My husband’s car was not working very well, because when Eamon changed the spark plugs he forgot to tighten one of them, so Gene took my car and mobile phone and set off for Perth. This was a calculated risk because my car had been having the megrims and was booked in for diagnosis and treatment on the Monday. Eamon’s car was even less reliable, as it had a crack in the carbuerettor.

I worried about Eamon possibly having concussion, amnesia, whiplash and/or cracked cervical vertebrae, so rang our other son-in-law Jason at the caryard where he worked. He went to the scene of the accident (handily only 5 minutes away) and loaded Eamon, the baby car seats, and such loose possessions of Bethany’s as he could find into a demo car he’d grabbed from work. He took Eamon back to his office and fed him sweet tea until Gene arrived.

The cousin’s car was towed off to a holding yard, pending the arrival of the other driver’s insurance assessor. Beth was towed off home to once again await the arrival of the baby that was by now being referred to as The Elephant Child.

That evening, I sat with a glass of Laphroig contemplating what I’d learned that day: never leave home without your mobile phone, don’t run over bricks, and check your spark plugs yourself.

Other good things to consider: Beth and the twins weren’t in the car when it was T-boned; Eamon was in a big station wagon, not his Beetle; the other man was insured; the police got the names of witnesses; and cousin Christopher, the actual owner of the station wagon, took it all rather well when the girls phoned him later on. (From twelve thousand miles away he didn’t really have a choice.)

The Elephant Child finally arrived on Palm Sunday. That morning at 4 a.m. Erin rang to say she and Beth and Stuart were at the hospital and this time it looked like a go. At 5.20 Stuart rang to say “The midwife says any time now.” Five minutes later Erin rang and said “He’s here, he’s beautiful, everyone’s fine”

So Quinn--9 pounds 6 ounces; exactly his mother’s birth weight--was launched upon the world two weeks late and fighting fit. All he did for his first day was eat and goggle at the large stuffed toy gorilla that Uncle Eamon gave him. He had a lot of black hair and dark blue eyes, no neck to speak of and the usual assortment of appendages, including a nose that promised not to be a button. (And it wasn’t.)

The Elephant Child is now about to graduate high school and plans a career in the army. I await with interest to see if any future adventures come close to the drama of his final prenatal fortnight.

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