In this Crazy Tour Stories segment, the country duo, Troubaduo, chats about one of their crazy stories from touring. You can check out the story, after the break.
Well, our story is a trippy one for this day and age. It’s like the Allman Brothers lyric, “I was born in the back seat of a Greyhound bus”, from Ramblin’ Man. It all started at the end of our Seventh U.S. tour on the west coast. We just finished playing, said some heartfelt goodbyes to Jill’s family in California, and started the 30-hour haul back to our base in Arkansas. Jill was over 8 months pregnant with our first child and I (Bryson) knew we needed to get home soon so she could rest and get ready for birth. She was starting to have trouble moving easily, so I was glad to drive the entire way back in our sweet 1996 turquoise RV, that we called the Sea Turtle. At 70 mph the Sea Turtle would start shaking profusely like it might break apart, so drives took longer than they should. Halfway home, we stopped to get a quick look at the White Sands National Monument Park in New Mexico. When we got ready to leave, the RV would not start. At sundown, the park ranger came and told us we currently could not camp in the park due to rules by the military base and missile range adjacent to the park. Maybe they were planning on firing rockets that night and concerned they’d hit a tourist, I don’t know. I was trying everything I could to get the RV started and it refused to cooperate. Eventually, the ranger agreed to let us stay there if we basically didn’t tell the U.S. government. It was a beautiful night with the clear New Mexico sky, white sands, and snowfall on the ground. Thankfully, the generator on our RV cranked and we stayed warm the whole night.
I had not slept well near the end of the tour, and that night I didn’t sleep at all, trying to figure out what was wrong with our old RV. I was up seriously praying for the RV to start working again while Jill slept. Early the next morning the freaking RV miraculously started up right before they opened the park. We hauled it out of there and drove across the mountains to our friend’s place in Carlsbad, where a mechanic was going to work on our RV. I was worn out and we decided to stay one more night at our friend’s place. You make a lot of good friends on the road and some folks are nice enough to take vagabond musicians into their home. That night Jill started saying she was really feeling different and more uncomfortable when she sat down. A snowstorm hit, and I was seriously watching her, while losing it inside going, “Dude, is she going into labor?”. She considered that she was having Braxton Hicks contractions, which is a type of false labor. I did not sleep again that night, as I was concerned we were about to have a baby. We wanted to leave and drive through the night, but there was a snow storm and we could not. Early the next morning as the mechanic was about to work on our RV, Jill started acting like she was actually going into labor. The mechanic looked at me and started telling me we need to leave now, along with step by step instructions on how to deliver a baby just in case. I learned the mechanic was a local pastor of a church, and I asked him, “Dude, how do you know how to deliver a baby since you’re a pastor and a mechanic!?” He said, “I used to be a paramedic.” I responded to him with a confident, “Dude, I ain’t gonna need to deliver a baby. We’re going to make it home in time.”
We jetted out of there across dangerous roads that were beginning to clear. I had the pedal to the floor and even hit 75 mph at times with the RV shaking like Elvis. Jill was certainly in labor now, but she started to feel confident we would make it home to have the baby. She even eventually fell asleep somehow. By nightfall, we hit Dallas, Texas and I was chugging Red Bulls and gas station coffee to stay awake. By east Texas, I was head-bobbing and fighting falling asleep at the wheel, with zero help from caffeine. I saw a rest stop and pulled over to take a quick nap. Jill awoke momentarily and said it was ok, as I knew I had to stop after days without rest. I set my alarm for about a 30-minute nap but we both ended up sleeping right through the alarm. I would have not woken up for a while, but In deep sleep, I promise I felt what seemed to be like a fire on the left side of my face and I jumped up thinking the RV was on fire. I looked outside and saw no flames anywhere. Call it a miracle if you want, but it really happened and it was the only thing that woke me up when it did. It is not logical, but I swear it felt so hot like I was going to get burned! I jumped into the driver’s seat and we took off. Jill was wide awake now and I was distraught that we slept through the alarm, because she was starting to have some serious contractions when she woke up this time.
As the contractions got closer and closer just like I’d read that they would, I began timing them. When they were about 50 seconds apart, I knew I had to call our midwife in Arkansas. I awoke our midwife about 4:15 am and informed her of Jill’s contraction times and that her water broke. I’ll never forget going up Interstate 30 in that RV with Jill wailing while crossing the border in Texarkana and talking to our midwife on the phone. The midwife told me to pull over at the next well-lit place, get the RV warm, get the blankets ready, and deliver the baby. I kept her on the phone insisting that we would make it home. She told me the baby is coming soon and that we would not make it home to central Arkansas in time. She finally gave me a stern warning saying, “I highly suggest you pull over at the next well-lit place and get ready to have the baby.” Oh man, I did NOT want to hear that!!!
We just passed Texarkana and I was looking for an exit after I hung up. But nothing came for the next 30 miles until we got to Hope, Arkansas. I took an exit and pulled over in a parking lot. I got the generator running, warmed up the RV, and got the blankets ready on that cold December morning. Jill said the baby was coming. She assumed the crouching while standing position as I got behind her, and out came our baby boy into my arms. He then gasped for air and took his first breath in my arms. He didn’t cry at all, but I cried like a baby and was tripping out at the miracle of birth. I pulled it together as Jill laid down and I handed her the baby. I did what the mechanic/pastor/x-paramedic told me, and I cut up a clean shirt to tie a tourniquet at each end of the umbilical cord; that is to stop bleeding from the placenta to the umbilical cord on one end, then leaving a space to cut, and tying another tourniquet on the other end of the cord to stop any bleeding from the child. I’m explaining this for all of you non-experts, so you’ll know the 101 of baby delivering if needed. I called the midwife back and told her what I’d done with the two tourniquets and asked, “Is that right?”. She was like, “Yes! Did you cut the umbilical cord?” I responded, “No! I wanted to make sure I did it right before I cut it.” She then responded with an urgent, “Cut it!” I didn’t want to mess it up. It’s not like I could piece the thing back together if I made the wrong cut. So I cut the cord, and Jill laid there resting with our new son Jedidiah comfortably on her. She was worn out, but at such peace at this moment. She probably laid there a couple of hours and repeatedly told me she needed to rest, and understandably so. We finally got back up and drove 90 more minutes to meet our midwife at our base in central Arkansas. Our midwife said, “I have done over 200 home births now, and this by far was the easiest.” She examined our newborn child and said, “You could not have asked for a healthier baby.” He came about 3 weeks early but was a healthy seven pounds, nine ounces. It felt so good to us to know the circus of events was finally over, and that the three of us could get some nice R&R together.
After having our child, we took a break from the road. We are unsure if our Sea Turtle RV could even make it now anyway. We currently are doing Facebook and YouTube live shows, that are attracting more fans than we ever did in our vigorous touring of bars, breweries and hippie festivals: Literally, we are now on a Digital Tour Bus as this site suggests, with the help of the internet and social media platforms. However, touring the country and playing music up both coasts from San Diego to Seattle, and Florida to Maine for three years of our life was incredible! It was not as incredible as having our child in the back of the Sea Turtle. Our son Jedidiah was literally born in Hope, which interestingly enough is also the birthplace of Bill Clinton. On Jedidiah’s birth certificate, it states he was born in Hope, Arkansas in the location of “Sea Turtle RV”. Thank God this happened without any health problems. I don’t want to imagine what the state of Arkansas may want to do to two strung out looking hippies in a junky RV who attempted an unsuccessful road birth. We are so thankful to Digital Tour Bus for allowing us to tell our experience of Jedidiah being born as a Ramblin’ Man, just like the Allman Brothers song talks about. He has a story to tell one day.