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MacKenzie Nielson, front, sits with her mother, Tera, at their Downriver-area home. Tera gave birth to MacKenzie on the Monroe Street Bridge when they were unable to get to the hospital in time. 
 (Christopher Anderson/ / The Spokesman-Review)
MacKenzie Nielson, front, sits with her mother, Tera, at their Downriver-area home. Tera gave birth to MacKenzie on the Monroe Street Bridge when they were unable to get to the hospital in time. (Christopher Anderson/ / The Spokesman-Review)

MacKenzie Nielson is the type of kid who’s always in a hurry. She’s always the first one out the door and the first one into the car. And back in 1994, the Finch Elementary sixth grader sure didn’t want to wait to make her earthly debut. MacKenzie was born March 9 in the front seat of the family’s red Chevy Cavalier as her parents and twin sisters raced across the Monroe Street Bridge toward Deaconess Medical Center. Dad, Rob Nielson, knew his new child had arrived when the two girls started chanting, “Baby, baby.” Mom, Tera Nielson, knew a whole lot sooner that MacKenzie Lynn wasn’t going to wait for a doctor. “I realized it when we got in the car — that she was going to be born in the car,” Nielson said.

Nielson had gone into labor the night before, but had fallen asleep in her waterbed.

By the time she woke up, she knew there wasn’t time to wait for a babysitter for her twin 3-year-olds. Everybody was quickly packed into the car for the dash to the hospital.

Despite her husband’s pleas not to push, Nielson couldn’t resist the urge, and 5-pound, 8-ounce MacKenzie was born in the middle of the bridge.

At first, emergency room personnel didn’t believe Rob when he said his wife had just delivered their baby in the car. But upon learning the reality, they brought out blankets and scissors to cut MacKenzie’s umbilical cord.

“Her birth certificate has no doctor’s name on it. For place of birth it says ‘In the car,’” said Nielson. “I delivered her myself.”

The twins, Carolyn and Christine, don’t remember much about the birth other than the fact that they were both wearing Barney and Baby Bop pajamas.

“We got popsicles at the hospital,” added Christine.

MacKenzie is embarrassed by all the fuss, and said she’s heard the story more times than she can count.

“She’ll probably tell it my whole life,” she said of her mom.

In the years since her dramatic birth, MacKenzie has grown into an athletic girl, who enjoys riding ATVs, inner-tubing and wake-boarding. She also belongs to the Lilac City Young Marines.

She’s also extremely close to her younger brother, Taylor, 10, who has cerebral palsy.

The two like to play video games, and Taylor enjoys playing sports for Team St. Luke’s.

The Nielsons had planned to save the Chevy for MacKenzie, but sold it a few years ago to buy something newer. The car’s new owners weren’t fazed by the car’s history, said Tera Nielson.

“We have pictures of it for her,” said Nielson, who also has a file of newspaper clippings about MacKenzie’s dramatic birth.

The whole family plans to enjoy the Monroe Street Bridge reopening festivities today.

Perhaps, MacKenzie will have to listen to the story at least one more time.

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