Birth sometimes can be traumatic -- especially when a taxicab becomes a makeshift hospital and the attending physicians are wearing D.C. police uniforms.
Third District Officer Andrew Bartnowak found out just how unnerving it can be when he was interrupted near the end of his Monday night shift while taking a robbery statement in front of 2484 16th St. NW.
Bartnowak said that about 10:40 p.m. a cab heading south on 16th Street pulled up near his scout car and the taxi driver jumped out and shouted to him, "My wife's having a baby right now."
"Right now?" Bartnowak asked.
"Right now!" the taxi driver said.
"He told me the water had broken about 20 minutes before," said Bartnowak, who said he saw the woman lying on the front seat of the car.
"I could see the baby's head coming out," he said.
Bartnowak said that after radioing for an ambulance and finding none available, he called other officers to help.
Officers Thomas Pair, Lazaros Gonzales and George Murphy responded and agreed that Bartnowak and Murphy would handle the delivery.
"He and I both had some experience," said Bartnowak. "I was a New York state emergency medical technician -- I'd watched it before."
Still, it was Bartnowak's first hands-on delivery.
"I heard Andy call a couple of times for an ambulance," Murphy said. "He said he had a birth that was imminent. I just went up there to see what I could do."
The officers took surgical gloves from the trunk of Bartnowak's car. "We just put on the gloves and she did most of the work," said Bartnowak.
"We were both nervous," Murphy said. "We were kind of hoping that the ambulance would get there."
"The father coached her at the head and we coached her at the other end," said Murphy.
The baby was delivered about 11 p.m. Ambulance personnel arrived in time to cut the infant's umbilical cord, Bartnowak said.
Murphy said the baby came out with "everything it was supposed to have," and was wrapped in a blanket and placed in the ambulance.
"That was really something to be a part of something like that," Bartnowak said.
The 32-year-old mother, who asked that she not be identified, and her baby boy were both doing well at Howard University Hospital early yesterday morning, hospital officials said.