Special Delivery No. 3
Meet NFI driver Mike Hawthorne, roadside midwife
How many roadside midwives do you know? Such is the unlikely description that can now be appropriately applied to NFI driver Mike Hawthorne.
Hawthorne’s latest birthing happened around 2 a.m. on I-30 well northeast of Dallas, where the truck/trailer relocation hauler had pulled off on an exit ramp and was checking the chains holding down a service van on his trailer.
“I pulled over and, after about a minute and a half to two minutes,” Hawthorne says, “I walked around the front of the truck to open my driver-side door and saw the father running by the backside of my trailer asking me not to go anywhere.”
Quickly, however, he realized it was no con or joke. “As soon as he said his wife was in labor, I said, without hesitation, ‘I’ll grab my phone,’” all the while thinking “this can’t be happening to me again.”
When he couldn’t get any phone service, Hawthorne grabbed his birthing kit. You read right: Hawthorne, who early on in life learned the basics of baby delivery from his mother and grandmother, both midwives, has kept such a kit on-hand since the first baby he delivered in 1999 outside the TravelCenters of America location in Ontario, Calif.
In the kit, you’ll find sharp, sterile scissors, rubbing alcohol and alcohol swabs, plenty of clean water, a small suction device to clean mucus from the child’s mouth to ensure easy breathing and a pair of latex gloves, as well as a clean white shoestring for tying off the umbilical cord.
He didn’t need the shoestring or scissors in this latest delivery. Police on the other side of the highway noticed the commotion, turned around and radioed for an emergency medical unit. “The baby was born before the medical units arrived,” Hawthorne says. “I wrapped it in a towel and set the baby on the mother’s belly,” leaving the umbilical cord to the professionals who had just arrived.
And Hawthorne was on his way. The next day, he called in to his boss to tell him about the unscheduled delivery, leaving a brief, nonspecific message.
Meanwhile, new father Jack Smith, who’d not managed to get Hawthorne’s name, at least remembered the company insignia on his tractor and found NFI’s area office, taping a note of thanks to the dispatch office door. One thing led to another, and when Hawthorne finally got his boss live on the phone, he said, “I bet I know what you need to talk to me about. Is this baby number three?”
Two-time (1999 and 2000) Truckload Carriers Association Highway Angel Hawthorne says he’s not planning on delivering a fourth, but “if I’m in the right spot, I’ll do it again. I like helping people out.”