To the Editor:

Earlier this year, there was an article about New Milford Hospital soon closing its birthing center.

I wanted to respond then but, due to many personal issues, it didn't happen. As the months passed, I felt it was too late.

Reading about the hospital in the Aug. 10 edition, all the thoughts came rushing back and I had to share them.

For 18 years I lived in San Rafael, Calif., where one of the many Kaiser hospitals is located.

The second week I had lived there, there was a traffic mess on the Golden Gate Bridge, which is located roughly 20-25 minutes south of San Rafael, in good traffic conditions.

The comment I heard frequently around town that day was, with a chuckle, "must be a Kaiser baby being born." It wasn't a baby, but I later found the comment had been justified.

Kaiser Hospital in San Rafael did not have a birthing center, which I thought was odd. Kaiser patients were forced to choose between Kaiser Hospital San Francisco, and the Kaiser Hospital up north in Santa Rosa (I think), to give birth.

Often the expectant mother did not make it to the hospital. Either panicking fathers, police officers or some knowledgeable persons just passing by delivered the babies.

Mothers and babies were always "OK." However, traffic messes and accidents often occurred during these deliveries.

The joke about blaming a birth for the traffic mess on the Golden Gate Bridge began the day a baby was born on the bridge. The stories always made it on the local news station and in the local papers.

Those rushing to these hospitals sometimes caused accidents even if the baby graciously waited to be born in the hospital.

Kaiser patients, during emergency situations for either the pregnant woman or the child, could use Marin General Hospital, which is located in Greenbrae, Calif., about 15 minutes south on highway 101 with good traffic conditions.

However, all of us who have been through labor before know very well of the unpredictable natures and situations. What might start with the optimistic thinking you could make it to the city can quickly change.

Some babies come fast.

Would you like to be that father driving his wife in active labor?

No pain relief (some of us won't go without), for 20-45 minutes, or even longer, with the constant thought entering you mind that you would have to deliver the baby.

Would you like to be that mother in active labor? No anesthesiologist, waiting in the car, or worse, delivering your baby in the car.

For those who don't know, the stories you hear about childbirth are true. Childbirth can be extremely painful, along with hormones and emotions running on overdrive.

But it can also be very beautiful and special, in the right environment, of course -- home or hospital, but most certainly not the car.

We talk so much these days about using your phone while driving or texting and driving, how they are distractions and accident prone.

Well what about the distractions of driving with someone giving birth in the back seat?

What father to be wouldn't speed when driving his wife in labor to the hospital? Or reach for his phone to call the doctor?

Pulling over would only the delay the arrival time at the hospital.

Shame to all those who feel this is a good business decision. You need to reconsider.

Can't others who work in the hospital come to assist a birthing mother while those on call are being contacted and driving in?

Come up with a way to keep the birthing center open, for the safety of all those in the community.

Theresa Andrade

New Milford