Caleb Arsenault was born to his parents, Jeff and Beth, at 8:30 a.m. on Sept. 25, smack dab on his due date — and too early for his parents.
They were 10 minutes into the hour-long drive from their Innisfil home to a hospital in Richmond Hill when Beth announced she wasn’t going to make it.
“I was like, ‘I’m not pulling over on the side of the road!’” Jeff Arsenault said. With fears of a roadside birth in his mind, Jeff pulled into the next best place he could find — a gas station in Gilford, Ont., abut 80 kilometres north of Toronto.
It became his son’s birthplace.
Laura McDonald, 20, was working the cash at the Trotter’s Esso gas station and service centre when she heard screams around 8:20 a.m.
She thought to herself, either someone’s dying or someone’s having a baby. “It was pretty dramatic,” she said.
McDonald could see a dark bronze SUV in the parking lot. The passenger door was open and a woman was reclined in her seat with her legs bent, almost on the dashboard.
“It was starting to get real and you could see she was in the position to give birth,” said B.J. Babin, a mechanic at Trotter’s.
Babin checked to make sure someone had called 911 — Jeff had — and stayed close in case the couple needed help.
“Just when things started to get really loud, the paramedics showed up,” Babin said.
Paramedics tried to move Beth onto a stretcher but it was clear there was no time.
Babin heard them say: “Push.”
“Three minutes later that child was born on the front seat,” he said.
Caleb John Louis Arsenault arrived weighing seven pounds 13 ounces, a healthy little boy.
“It was very emotional,” said Jeff, 38. “I really didn’t focus in on the ‘Hey, what did we just do? Where did we just do this?’ It was more ‘Hey, here’s our second child. Here’s our boy and it looks like he’s doing pretty good.’”
Caleb was born 14 minutes after his parents pulled into the gas station, less than half an hour after leaving their home in the Innisfil community of Alcona.
After the drama ended, employees put up a sign welcoming baby Caleb — “Born Here Today.”
For Beth, the shock is wearing off, but recalling the day still brings her to tears.
“It was definitely not our place of choice,” she said from her home Tuesday, becoming emotional when describing her gratitude to emergency workers.
“It’s going to sound funny but … my biggest concern was that I was going to catch the baby and (Jeff) was going to still be driving,” said Beth, 36, a nurse.
She is starting to see the humour in her son’s birth story, however, and looks forward to sharing it with him one day.
“It’s not every day you meet someone born in a car,” she said with a laugh. “It’s going to be a story to tell for a long time.”