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A little 'PCH' is born

NEWPORT BEACH — When she grows up, Piper Hunt's parents one day will have to tell her the story behind her birth certificate. It doesn't read like most.

Delivered by: Steve Martin. Place of birth: Pacific Coast Highway and Dover Drive in Newport Beach.

No, not Steve Martin, the actor, but Steve Martin, the nine-year paramedic for the Newport Beach Fire Department. The location, though, that's as accurate as it can be.

As Piper's parents learned, their 5-day old daughter, who was delivered on Monday, is a patient listener. But as with all babies, there is a limit and she reached hers in Newport Beach.

Piper's limit came at 11:28 a.m. Monday, when she couldn't wait any longer and was born in the passenger seat of a 1994 Toyota Highlander idling at the bus stop at Dover and Coast Highway.

"We joke about the fact we can't believe that we're those people," said Laguna Beach resident Brian Hunt, who was driving his wife, Megan, to Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian, when they had to pull over and deliver their daughter instead. "You kind of hear about these crazy stories of people having something like this happen to them."

This is one of those stories.

It started Sunday night, when Megan Hunt started having her first contractions. Having already given birth to two daughters — Hadley, 3, and Eloise, 2 — Hunt had a steady gate when her third child announced to her she was ready to emerge into the world.

It was Eloise's birthday on Saturday, so Hunt asked the baby inside her if she could wait till after the birthday party.

Piper listened.

Then the contractions started on Sunday. They were closer together Monday morning, but again, Hunt asked Piper if she could wait until after she took Eloise to a visit to the pediatrician.

Again, Piper listened.

As soon as Hunt returned to her Laguna Beach home, she said she knew it was time to head to the hospital to deliver.

"I kind of feel like she actually listens, but she won't wait any longer than she was asked," Megan Hunt joked.

The Hunts moved from Chicago to Laguna Beach in May, when Brian took a job in Newport Beach.

With Megan Hunt scheduled to have induced labor Wednesday, her parents were in town to help out. The plan was to have Megan's dad drive her to Brian's work at Fashion Island, while her mother got the kids together back at the house. Then Brian would take her from Fashion Island to Hoag and Megan's dad would go back to Laguna to help with the girls.

The contractions grew stronger on the way to Newport Beach, Megan Hunt said. In the moments it took to walk from her dad's car to Brian's car for the second leg of the trip, her water broke.

"So the question is, do I drive fast or do I try and keep her comfortable?" Brian wrote on his blog (techhunters.wordpress.com) about the event. "We leave the parking lot and of course I panic and pick the exit that has the most speed bumps."

Meanwhile, Megan was repeatedly dialing her doctor trying to notify about the upcoming delivery. She kept getting busy signals and finally dialed 911.

"I had a baby I was trying to hold in. (The dispatcher) was trying to convince us to pull over," Megan Hunt recalled. "We were trying to convince her that we were going to make it."

Piper proved her mother wrong. When Megan Hunt finally said loudly, "I can't believe I'm going to have this baby in this car," the dispatcher put her foot down and made Brian pull over, the couple recalled.

Brian told the dispatcher they were at the bus stop at PCH and Dover.

"She says great, help is on the way," the dad wrote on his blog. "Then she says something that sent shivers down my spine: 'Don't worry, I'm going to walk you through this.'"

The dispatcher instructed Megan to breathe and for Brian to see if the baby's head was showing.

"Now remember, I'm in the driver's seat of the car, and the car is still running," the dad wrote on his blog. "I'm holding Megan's cell phone in my right hand and with my left hand I'm touching the top of my daughter's head."

In the precious minutes from when Megan Hunt first called 911, an ambulance was en route to their location. When Piper's head first appeared, her face was blue. The umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck twice. At that instant, paramedic Martin opened up the passenger door, took Piper by the hand, unwrapped the cord and got Piper breathing again.

"It was one of those calls where seconds mattered," Martin said. "It was just so fast. I reacted and tried to do the right thing."

Martin's been with the fire department for 13 years, including nine as a paramedic. This was his first in-the-field delivery, he said.

He said when they first got the call of an imminent delivery, he figured it was a first-time mother who was panicked because her water had broken.

But as he opened the door and saw the cord wrapped around Piper's neck, he quickly saw this was something else entirely.

"The pucker-factor was about 10," Martin quipped.

"He's a hero to me," Brian Hunt said of Martin and the other medics who arrived. "They showed up at the exact moment that they needed to ... I just don't know how it would've ended. I credit (Martin) with saving my daughter's life."

Piper was born at 11:28 a.m. She weighed 6 pounds and 6 ounces and was 19 1/4 inches long.

While the Hunts rode to the hospital in an ambulance, a paramedic had their "birthmobile," as Brian called it, detailed at a local carwash.

On the way to Hoag, medics and the Hunts joked about what to name their new daughter. Megan jokingly said Steve Martin, but that didn't last long.

They ended up choosing Piper Cecilia Hunt — PCH.

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