Grenivík - Born in a snowstorm

The weather in Iceland is constantly changing and the winters can be very tough with snowstorms and impassable roads.
Listen to a story from Ingólfur Kristinn Ásgeirsson. He tells us about a day his mother will never forget – the day he was born.

In the player below you can listen to the story as well as it is available in writing further down the page.
The story is read by Vilhjálmur Bermann Bragason.


"My name is Ingólfur Kristinn Ásgeirsson.

I grew up in Grenivík where I was free play as I liked and, in my memory, the weather was always good in the summer. We went out in the mornings and played until late in the evenings; we just went home when we were hungry. In the winter, it usually snowed a lot. Blizzards often raged for days, making the roads impassable. That’s what the weather was like the day when I was born, 3 January 1968. I would like to tell you briefly about that day, even though I don’t remember it myself—but my mum will hardly forget it.

In the morning, my mum experienced growing labour pains and realised that her baby would soon arrive. She became anxious because the weather outside was crazy, an absolute whiteout, so she couldn’t even see the next house. All roads were completely impassable. The decision was made to take her to the delivery room in Akureyri by snowmobile, some 40 km away. The local search and rescue squad had a small snowmobile and my dad decided to drive it. He asked his search and rescue friends to help him dig the snowmobile up, because all buildings and vehicles were snowed under.

When the snowmobile was ready and they went to pick up my mum, the search and rescue members realised that the snowmobile didn’t have any license plates. As they were law-abiding men, they determined to go to the district commissioner’s house and pick up the license plates; they didn’t like the thought of running into the Akureyri police and ending up getting fined. The district commissioner lived 3 km south of Grenivík and the journey there and back took one hour.

The women were quite unhappy about the arrangement, to waste time on picking up the license plates, because it didn’t really matter whether the snowmobile was plated or not during the crazy snowstorm. When everything was finally ready, my mum was put on a stretcher and carried out into the tiny snowmobile and then they headed off. My dad was accompanied by two assistants, and luckily so. One of them had to hold the stretcher steady and the other walk ahead of the car during long stretches of the journey to help the driver find the road in zero visibility. The snowmobile moved slowly but surely in the right direction for the first 15 km. Then they nearly had an accident; the vehicle almost rolled over on its side and off the road. The men managed to pull the snowmobile back down and all went well. It edged forward, kilometre by kilometre. When they were approaching Akureyri, the weather had cleared somewhat and they could pick up the speed—fortunately, because the little boy was eager to enter the world. When they arrived at the hospital, my mum was carried inside on the stretches and placed on a bed and my dad just barely managed to bid her farewell before leaving back for Grenivík. At that time, fathers were not allowed to be present at childbirth. My mum was rushed to the delivery room, and just in time, because she had barely passed through the door when I shot out and into the world, crying at the top of my lungs—and I haven’t shut up since, some people say!

About one week later my dad picked us up at the hospital and drove us home to Grenivík. By then, the weather had improved considerably, the road had been cleared and the journey was much easier. On that day, 3 January 1968, the drive to Akureyri—which on a normal day is only about 30 minutes—took 6 hours!"