PHOENIX — Shannon Geise left the doctor’s office, climbed into her SUV and thought about all she had left to do before her baby boy’s birth.
She’d made it to week 39; only seven more days before her Nov. 14 due-date.
Her doctor told her not to worry, everything was fine. Her baby, already named Sebastian, was healthy and so was she. But Shannon was no more dilated than she’d been the week before.
The doctor asked her if she wanted to be induced, just to move things along.
Shannon said no.
“I wanted to wait,” she would say later.
Sebastian, as Shannon would soon discover, was not as patient.
This was baby No. 5 for Shannon. Baby No. 4, her first little girl after three boys, was 17 months old.
Olivia wears pigtails, sometimes fights naps and loves Disney movies, but she wasn’t old enough yet to understand that a baby was on the way.
Shannon, 31, had been spending her days doing what expecting moms do: nesting. The nursery was decorated, the going-home outfit laid out, everything was as ready as it could be.
She just needed Sebastian to decide he was ready.
That night, Shannon put Olivia to sleep. She called her boys, who were staying at their dad’s house, to say good night.
She’d felt a few cramps earlier in the day, but nothing to worry about. After four babies, Shannon knew what false labor felt like.
Just after midnight, she woke up.
“I had a particularly painful contraction,” the Phoenix woman said.
She stepped out of bed to use the bathroom.
“When I got up, I felt a pop,” she said.
Shannon’s water had broken. She figured she had time. Enough time to get her bag and put on some makeup so she looked nice in photos with her newborn.
Sebastian had his own plans.
Sometimes plans go awry
Shannon decided to take a quick shower and call the baby’s father for a ride to the hospital.
“My water’s broken before and there’s usually a few hours, at least, between my water breaking and any serious contractions,” she said.
Less than 30 minutes later, the contractions hit hard. Shannon knew there wasn’t enough time to call anyone.
“I just needed to go to the hospital. I couldn’t wait for anybody (or) anything,” she said. “I needed to go right then.”
Shannon grabbed her bag, her keys and Olivia and hopped into her GMC Denali. She took a few deep breaths. Everything would be all right. The baby was fine — her doctor had just told her so.
Shannon made a left onto Union Hills Drive, about 15 minutes from the hospital. Her sleepy-eyed girl, Olivia, took the rush in stride, focusing on the kid's movie that came on as soon as Shannon started the SUV.
“She was watching Angry Birds,” Shannon said. “It’s her favorite movie.”
Mom watched the road. She made it past the first light, past the freeway underpass, past a few more lights.
Just a few more miles, she told herself.
The music from an Angry Birds scene provided the soundtrack to Shannon’s drive to the hospital. Olivia giggled in the back seat.
“My biggest fear was that I was going to make it but I wasn’t going to have time for an epidural,” she said. “That is what I was afraid of.”
Just before the stoplight at 32nd Street and Union Hills, Shannon knew everything was moving too fast.
“That was when I realized, 'Nope,'” she said. “This is not happening.”
She felt one long, deep contraction.
“I felt him move down,” she said.
Shannon pulled over her SUV.
'A no-turning-back point'
The moment she made it to the side of the road was the same moment another long, hard, painful contraction came.
“That basically pushed his head out,” she said.
She tried to stay quiet. Olivia was still watching Angry Birds, still giggling.
She couldn't believe this was happening. On the street, a little after 1 a.m., minutes from the hospital, with her toddler in the back seat, Shannon was giving birth.
This was a moment of “shock and kind of like a no-turning-back point,” she said.
She knew Sebastian was ready. She knew she had to push. She took a deep breath and pushed once, twice, three times.
“And his shoulders and everything came out,” she said.
Shannon reached for her baby. Sebastian wasn’t making any noise. She started rubbing his back, just like she’d seen on the hospital TV shows.
“He started crying and then I called 911,” she said.
She told the operator she was on the way to the hospital. The operator asked are you OK? What's wrong?
“I said, ‘I just had a baby,' and they’re like, 'What?'"
The final few miles
Shannon could not believe the words coming out of her mouth so she said them again.
“I just had a baby in my car,” she said.
The operator said she’d send an ambulance. Shannon said no. It would take longer for the ambulance to get there than it would take her to navigate the short distance to the hospital. The operator told her she'd alert the emergency-room staff.
Shannon held her baby in one arm and used her other hand to drive, slowly and very carefully, to the hospital, Abrazo Scottsdale Campus.
“When I got there, no one was there,” she said.
There was no way Shannon was hopping out of the SUV.
“I just started honking the horn,” she said.
The blasting Denali horn attracted the attention of a nurse, who ran to Shannon's window. The nurse asked what was wrong.
Shannon showed her the baby she was holding in her arms and told the nurse what happened.
The nurse stared at Shannon and at baby Sebastian. She said she'd be right back with a wheelchair.
Minutes later, inside the hospital, Shannon got to cut her baby’s umbilical cord. The doctors told Shannon everything was fine: Sebastian was healthy and so was Mom. She had to wait for the on-call OB-GYN doctor before she could be assigned to a room.
When Shannon was settled in her room with Sebastian, she called her sister.
“You’re not going to believe what happened,” she said. “You’re not going to believe this.”
The calm after the storm
On a sunny Tuesday, one week after she gave birth, Shannon is smiling at a sleeping Sebastian. She swaddles him tightly in a white-and-black blanket. His eyes never open.
She says her baby is tired. It's been a big day. Newborn photos and a visit to the doctor.
Her toddler is taking a nap in the other room. Her older boys are at school and her littlest boy is playing hide-and-seek under a blanket.
The room is filled with toys, family photos and blue balloons to welcome Sebastian home.
"It still hasn't sunk in," she says.
She realizes this Tuesday in November would have been Sebastian's actual due date. She laughs, remembering how the doctor had asked if she wanted to induce and how she said she wanted to wait.
In the end, Sebastian, baby No. 5, had the final word.
Follow Dianna M. Náñez on Twitter: @DiannaNanez