"I gave birth in our car"
When Camille's water broke, she thought she had plenty time to get to the hospital. An hour later her baby made a bold arrival - in their car.
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22H00: QUIET NIGHT IN

This was my second pregnancy and it was relatively easy. I only gained seven kilograms and I had a very small bump. Everything was going well, there were no complications and my doctor was very happy with my progress.

At 38 weeks, on 20 May, Ryan and I were sitting watching television. It was the first time in a long time that we were able to sit and enjoy a movie together. At this point, I started feeling sluggish and had been experiencing lots of Braxton Hicks – which I hadn’t experienced in my first pregnancy with Miika. 

While we were relaxing on the couch, I suddenly felt this little pop. I wasn’t sure what it was, and thought it was just a kick. It was a weird sensation that I had never experienced before.

With my first pregnancy they broke my water on the table, so I had nothing to compare it to. I got up off the couch and went to the loo. I peed and then I peed again. It wasn’t like I was leaking, and there was no gushing. It just wasn’t like you see in the movies, so I wasn’t sure. 

I took a bath to see if my Braxton Hicks would go away, but while I was in the bath I had my first contraction. But
I just didn’t experience the usual pains associated with contractions. Miika was born at 41 weeks and when I had my first contraction, it was painful and I instantly knew I was in labour. It was sore from the get go. This time, because I had so many Braxton Hicks, I couldn’t be sure. 

We decided that we better pack our bags and drive to the hospital. I always thought that labour is a long process
(Miika’s was 13 hours), so I thought we had plenty time to do the 30-minute drive from our home in Krugersdorp, to Fourways where our doctor was.

As we were pulling out of the driveway I had my first serious contraction; then the second one came and this time it was painful. I remember wondering how fast Ryan could drive. When the third contraction arrived, only a few kilometres from our house, I told Ryan he had to pull the car over. I knew my baby was ready to come out.

23H00: OUR GARAGE BABY

Ryan pulled into the Sasol garage and parked about 25 metres away from the pumps and shop. It was quite private. I remember thinking how much I wanted a Gemini baby (from 21 May). I looked up at the clock, flashing 11pm and I knew this baby wasn’t going to make tomorrow. Everything happened so fast; we didn’t even have time to move to the back seat of the car. I called to Ryan next to me and asked him to come help me as I couldn’t get my pants off – I was just in too much pain.

Ryan called the hospital and asked them what we should do. He handed me the phone and the first thing the nurse said to me was: “Don’t push.” I said: “I can’t not push; there is a head between my legs.” Ryan thought I was joking but then he leant over and he could feel the head. He ran around to my side of the car and opened the door. He basically just caught our baby’s head. 

The doctors, now on speakerphone, said: “Is she breathing?” I heard Ryan say “No.” The doctors then asked: “Is
the cord around her neck?” “Yes,” said Ryan. They instructed him on how to put his finger under the cord and slip it off. They asked Ryan again if she was breathing, and the answer was still no.  

At this point we were both terrified. He was so worried that he had twisted her head too much when he was taking off the cord. Once the cord was off, Ryan took her out and gave her to me. I could see her arms moving and I knew she was okay. She finally started crying.

The birth was so quick that no one at the garage had even noticed something was wrong. There we were parked
at the garage and we hadn’t even remembered to turn on the car lights. The lights from outside actually made it a calm environment with no sterile light. It all went by so quickly, and Wren was born by 11.10pm that evening. 

23H15: A SECOND LABOUR

I started breastfeeding Wren – my only thought was that if she could suck then it meant she was okay. At this point Ryan (now in a panic) saw an ambulance drive through the garage, and he tried to chase after it. Suddenly the petrol attendants noticed something was wrong and came to check if we were okay. I laughed and said that we had already given birth.

Soon after, the paramedic arrived. He was shaking so much and was so unsure about having a baby’s life in his hands. He cut the cord and then put an IV in me and gave me a space blanket.

I realised this wasn’t over yet, I still needed to birth the placenta and there wasn’t any medication to help me.
This was the worst thing I had ever experienced. The contractions were long and painful. I let out a deep groaning sound, something I never did in labour. 

They say that once you have your baby and she is healthy, then the placenta birthing is easy. I had my baby, she was sucking on me, but this was terrible. Wren was still sucking on me when I birthed the placenta. The paramedic just caught it. Ryan thought my intestines were coming out. At this stage the petrol attendants ran away. 

When the ambulance came, I pulled my pants up and got out of the car. It was as if nothing had happened. You would expect there to be a lot of blood, but there wasn’t. I was in socks, my pyjama pants, a vest and a dressing gown (which had soaked up all the fluid).

The scariest thing about all of this was that the ambulance didn’t have machines to monitor Wren. In everyday life, we won’t drive anywhere without a car seat and now we had to put our newborn baby on a stretcher in the back of an ambulance. On the way to the hospital, the paramedics just kept asking me if she was still breathing. It was terrifying.

LOOKING BACK 

When we arrived at the hospital they took Wren away to get checked. It was the first time I had let her go. She still likes being held and I believe it’s because we shared so much intimate skin-on-skin time in the car.

I was so proud of Ryan. He is normally the one who freaks out, and he was able to stay calm, listen and follow the doctors’ orders. Everything happened so quickly that he only started panicking once she was already out.

Wren is now a healthy nine-week-old baby but we just keep wondering what if something had gone wrong. If everything didn’t turn out alright, I would’ve blamed myself. Why didn’t I get in the car immediately? Why didn’t
I know my water had broken? We had always wanted a hospital birth with the right equipment and staff and
now we are the couple who gave birth in a car. We are just very blessed that Wren is a healthy baby. 

The truth is, everyone says labour is tough but I’ve never pushed a baby out in my life, they just fall out. With my next pregnancy, I might just have to camp out at the hospital from 38 weeks!

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