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Little bundle's big debut catches everyone off guard

Patience, baby, patience.

You get the feeling little Elijah Andrew Rodriguez is destined to become a CEO or an Army general — someone who expects to get what he wants when he wants it, at double time with no questions asked.

Elijah is the second child of Megan Thompson Rodriguez and her husband, Selso Rodriguez Sr., of Ceres.

In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, Elijah — who was due Nov. 10 — suddenly decided "Why wait?" It was as if he could stand being cooped up no longer and decided to bust out.

Megan's contractions began at 1:30 a.m. With Selso at work in Modesto, Megan called her mother, Michelle Ortiz of Oakdale. Ortiz arrived about 30 minutes later and drove Megan to Doctors Medical Center in Modesto. When hospital staff examined her, she'd dilated only about a half-centimeter.

"I was having really, really bad contractions," Megan said. "They said it was false labor. I told my mom, 'These are way too strong to be false.' "

They sent her home to rest and told her to take a warm bath if the pain persisted, Megan said.

Back home by 5:30 a.m., she lay down for about a half-hour before easing into the tub. But she began bleeding and screamed for her mom. Ortiz called for an ambulance and then tried to help her daughter get out of the shower-tub enclosure.

Not a chance.

Her daughter was in extreme pain, and the cumbersome sliding shower doors left Ortiz with no leverage to help Megan stand up and step out of the tub. Help arrived at 6:40 a.m.

"When the paramedics got there, they had to dismantle the shower doors to get her out," Ortiz said.

"I've had experience with this," said Dave Dalman, a paramedic with American Medical Response, the ambulance company. "Sometimes, they just have to come out. They're still intact. I don't think we broke them."

By 7:05 a.m., they were in Modesto, heading west on Orangeburg Avenue.

"As we were driving to the hospital, I felt two contractions," Megan said. "I felt two pushes, like (Elijah) was going to come out."

And on the third one, he did — just as the ambulance sped across Sunrise Avenue.

"The baby went 'schloop!' and went right out there on the gurney," Ortiz said.

"There was no holding back," said Dalman, who was on the receiving end and happened to look up just in time to see Sutter Park through the ambulance window.

Six pounds, 8 ounces and 18 inches long — not bad for a kid who jumped the gun by five weeks. And credit grandma with perhaps the best description of a baby coming out ever uttered — "schloop!" — even though she wasn't there to hear it.

When the ambulance drove off with Megan, Ortiz went to pick up son-in-law Selso in south Modesto, where he drives a forklift for CalFreight, and chauffeured him to the hospital.

It was the second time paramedic Dalman had helped deliver a child. The first? A decade ago, when his wife, Jeanie, gave birth to daughter Ann Marie.

"The doctor hadn't gotten there, and the nurse stepped out for a second for an emergency or something in another room," Dalman recalled. "It was literally about 20 seconds, and my wife said, 'It's coming!' The nurse came back in just as it was happening."

He caught his daughter that day, just as he caught Elijah on Wednesday morning.

Episodes of childbirth en route are something you hear or read about on occasion. On Labor Day — make that Labor Pains Day — 2008, a pair of Modesto police officers came to the aid of a pregnant woman who got within a block of Doctors and could go no further. They helped deliver her baby in a car parked at a gas station at McHenry and Orangeburg avenues.

And it's a scenario the entertainment industry has used ad nauseam over the years: Salma Hayek popping out a baby atop Hoover Dam, in an unlikely downpour, in "Fools Rush In" comes to mind.

"I was telling my mom, 'It's like a story off of TV,' " Megan said.

Only better. When it came time to complete Elijah's birth certificate, officials at Doctors couldn't list the hospital as the place of birth because he wasn't born there.

So the document will name Orangeburg and Sunrise avenues as the official place of birth, and Dalman gets credit for the delivery.

As for little Elijah, he's a happy, healthy baby who to this point in his young life has called most of the shots.

Just wait until he's old enough to snap his fingers.

Jeff Jardine's column appears Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays in Local News. He can be reached at 578-2383 or jjardine@modbee.com

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