SEATTLE – Joshua Yu, the second child of Nancy Ko and Evan Yu, celebrated his birthday last week. Notwithstanding his cherubic expression, neither Joshua’s parents nor the two Seattle Police officers who helped them would forget the harrowing ordeal of the one-year-old’s delivery last year on the southeast corner of Ninth Avenue and Madison Street.
Early that Sunday morning, June 29, 2011, Ko began having contractions and knew Joshua’s birth was imminent. By 11:45 a.m., Ko, 37, and her husband, Yu, 39, an oncologist at the University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, left their Newcastle home and sped across I-90, headed for Swedish Hospital in Seattle. Both parents knew that they had little time to spare.
“When we were going over the I-90 freeway and my contractions were getting stronger, I had strong urges to push, and I thought I really shouldn’t bear down and push because what if the baby comes out,” Ko remembered. Ko, the fund development manager for InterIm Community Development Association, began screaming as the contractions continued. “I was thankful that no one but Evan could hear.”
“I was definitely panic-stricken and felt helpless because I was in so much pain,” Ko said. After getting off I-5 during the noon commute hour, the couple’s car was just six blocks from the hospital when it became stuck in a construction lane on Madison Street near Ninth Avenue. By then, the baby was already coming out. On the incline of the street, Yu drove over to the side and pulled up the parking break to avoid getting hit by oncoming traffic.
He spotted Clovis Batiot, a Seattle Police parking enforcement officer, and waved him down, calling for help. Batiot didn’t have a car to escort them to the hospital and radioed 911 for paramedics while Yu, a trained physician, decided to deliver the baby himself in the front passenger seat of their car.
Batiot noticed a Seattle Police patrol car parked close to a nearby restaurant and found a police officer inside. He asked the officer to help escort the couple to Swedish Hospital.
“I was holding back another large contraction and was nervous, but relieved Evan decided to deliver the baby,” Ko said. Yu recalled how surreal it was. “It was like slow motion.”
“I knew he had done this in medical school and I couldn’t wait any longer,” Ko said. “So after one push, the baby came out.”
Little Joshua was born seven pounds, 12 ounces when Yu delivered him at 12:30 pm. By that time, another Seattle Police officer came to help. “It was very windy and cold that day, and the officer got a blanket from our trunk and helped wrap the baby,” Ko said. Shortly afterwards, an ambulance finally came to take the baby to Swedish Hospital for follow-up care.
By the time paramedics arrived, Yu was already holding his newborn son. Both parents were thankful for the assistance the two Seattle Police officers gave.
“I am thankful for their help that day,” Ko said. “It was very quick and unexpected, and they both jumped in and assisted where they could.”
“One of them came to check up on me later which I appreciated,” she said. Yu expressed his gratitude as well. “I was worried about any complications and excess bleeding from Nancy, so I needed back-up to make sure that someone could call for help and get mom and baby to the hospital quickly if there were any problems.”
Today, Joshua is a happy one-year-old, but shouldn’t expect additional siblings anytime soon. Neither parent plans to have any more children in the foreseeable future. “But if we do, I’m heading to the hospital within the hour I get contractions,” Ko said.
Happy Birthday, Joshua!