Call this one a real photo finish.
On Thursday, between the 2nd and 3rd races at Berkeley’s Golden Gate Fields race track, an assistant veterinarian went into labor in the bathroom of a horse barn. Forget about ambulances or mad dashes to the hospital – by the time she knew what was happening, the baby was already heading toward the finish line.
“We put blankets on the floor and hiked her down to the floor,” said co-worker Kelly Jackson who assisted in the birth. “She did all the rest.”
Erin Anderson was eight-and-a-half months pregnant when she went into labor, just a bathroom stall away from the horse stalls. As Jackson summoned the track’s paramedic team, horse trainer Val Rhoden fetched some blankets.
“You see it on the news – ‘husband and wife stuck in traffic and the husband’s delivering,’” said Rhoden, who operates the barn where the blessed event occurred. “You think that’ll never happen to me.”
As the de facto medical team tended to the new mom, the baby’s head began to appear. Just then, a paramedic walked in.
“One of them ran in and put his hands out,” said Jackson. “Just as he put his hands out that baby was born.”
As paramedics placed mother and baby on a gurney, a line of race horses paraded past on their way to the next race. The appearance of Anderson inspired a loud round of applause from the now-gathered crowd.
Anderson and her yet-unnamed baby were resting comfortably Friday in Berkeley’s Alta Bates Hospital. Although Anderson said would’ve preferred to give birth in somewhat more luxurious surroundings, she was thankful to have friends nearby.
“They were right there in the midst of it,” said Anderson, peering into the wraps holding her new six-pound baby boy. “They didn’t leave me high and dry."
Although workers at the track said they could recall a time when a horse was born at the race track, none could remember a human birth.
“It was just the most amazing thing I’ve ever witnessed in my life,” said Jackson.