updated 08/15/2005 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/15/2005 AT 01:00 AM EDT

born July 22
5 lbs. 4 oz.

No stranger to epic journeys, Sean Astin (The Lord of the Rings) put his navigational skills to use on the afternoon of July 22. While timing wife Christine's contractions with a Swiss Army watch—and with their two daughters in the back seat—he made his way from their home in Calabasas, Calif., to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, avoiding the 30-plus miles of freeway traffic by cruising down the shoulder.

Although he claims he was "totally ready to deliver this baby in the car," Astin did not have to. In the delivery room the 34-year-old actor, his wife of 13 years and their daughters Alexandra, 8, and Elizabeth, 3, welcomed Isabella Louise Astin, born one month prematurely but healthy. "I had been prepared for [the doctors] to whisk her away [after the birth]," says Christine, 37. "But an hour later we had her back in the room. We were so lucky."

With Isabella home, are the Astins thinking about expanding their trilogy? "Sean's going, 'Let's go for four, honey!'" says Christine. Her response? "She says we can consider adopting at some point, but the factory's closed," says Astin, who's now filming the comedy Click with Adam Sandler. "But you never know."

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