US Coast Guard Medevac Team tends to mom and baby
Amber Badua, a 30 year old woman from Sacramento, gave birth to a healthy baby girl aboard a Carnival Cruise line on May 27, a day after her own 30th birthday. But the amazing part of the story is that she only found out she was pregnant a week before! She began feeling stomachaches the night of the 26th and thought her symptoms were due to constipation from overeating, as is common aboard a cruise. At 10:20am the next morning, she pushed the baby out on her own with no assistance. Actually, she did not even know she was in labor!
So how did Amber not know she was pregnant? That’s the first question I asked when I spoke to her for her first interview after the event. This story was all over the San Diego local news but Tot Snob got the exclusive full story. I should disclose that I am friends with Amber’s cousin and I have met Amber on several occasions.
On May 20, Amber emailed her OB-GYN with concerns of “weird movements” in her stomach, as well as some spotting. This was after months of speaking to her doctor about irregular periods after coming off birth control pills last October. Her doctor reassured her that “spotty periods” were common after coming off the pill and that those were in fact menstrual cycles. In her mind, there was no way she could be pregnant. But to be sure, her doctor told her to take a home pregnancy test. She did, 3 different ones, all positive. Amber went in for a blood test and the pregnancy was confirmed the next day, on May 21st. Thinking she was still early in her term, as in 8-12 weeks pregnant, the doctor okay-ed her for a planned cruise and scheduled Amber for her first prenatal appointment on June 1 (which would have been a whole 5 days after the baby was born!).
Now, I have gone through 2 pregnancies, both were relatively easy but still fraught with anxiety, caution and major weight gain, so hearing Amber’s story completely blew my mind. She did feel some nausea and experienced leg cramps throughout the pregnancy but nothing noteworthy. She thought all the flutters and movements were gas. Really bad gas, but still nothing worthy of concern or suspicion. Plus, remember, she had been spotting all along (although irregularly) so being pregnant never entered the realm of possibilities for her. Coincidence also played a part, she had recently lost a lot of weight but after coming off her diet – eating poorly and no longer exercising, she gained all the weight back, plus some. All easily explained, right? But what about the big round belly? She never got that big. I mean, is she the luckiest girl ever or what? This was the easiest pregnancy in history! Normally, spotting throughout a pregnancy is dangerous and requires continued watchful medical attention. She had no prenatal care and she was able to deliver a baby with no assistance or medical technology. I mean, she did not even know she was in labor (the pain must of not been that bad!), her body took over and it knew what it had to do and did it. The power of natural instincts and the perseverance of life should never be underestimated!
So, what exactly took place during the “labor” and delivery? It was Amber’s birthday on May 26th, the second day of their cruise. After much celebration and eating, Amber complained of a stomachache and went to bed. Instead of sleeping it off, she spent the night in and out of the bathroom thinking she had very bad constipation. I asked about the severity of the pain, because labor pains cannot really be compared to a bad stomachache, at least not the ones I had. She said the pain was just concentrated around her stomach (amazing, right?). By morning, she started to get worried and asked her mom to get her some stool softeners. At this point, she had not told ANYONE about her pregnancy, she wanted to wait for her first prenatal appointment with her doctor to make sure everything was alright before making an announcement. In the back of her mind she was worried about the state of the pregnancy because of all the spotting.
Her mom came back with the stool softener – by now, things have progressed and Amber knew this was not constipation, nor did it look like it was. Her mom got on the phone with the ship’s doctor and tried to explain the situation when Amber shouted out from the bathroom, “Mom, tell them I’m pregnant”. Her mom was like, “WHAT?!?!?!?!”. At this point, it was obvious she needed medical attention and the doctors told them they were on their way.
Amber became distraught thinking that she must be having a miscarriage. After all, as far as she knew, she was only a few weeks along. The urge to push became so strong that she had put her legs up against the wall in order to push with all her might to expel what she assumed was a still birth baby. Her sister Aileen came to check on her, knowing she was not feeling well but not knowing the truth, yet. It became immediately clear something was terribly wrong. It was a very scary scene of intense screaming, crying and an extremely distressed Amber. Amber cried out, “I can’t stop pushing and I’m pregnant”. Aileen, not having time to wrap her head around the crazy news, had to switch gears and prepared to help her sister with what she also assumed was a miscarriage. They held hands and a just few minutes later, they heard something fall into the toilet. Amber had pushed the baby out. She was still sitting on the toilet so Aileen had to look behind her to see into the toilet. She was terrified of what she would find. The baby was head first into the toilet but she was facing up and Aileen saw a small movement of the mouth. The baby was alive!! She tried to get Amber on the floor so she could get to the baby but they were still connected by the umbilical cord, plus the cramped quarters of the cruise ship bathroom made the maneuver even more difficult. Aileen scooped the baby out of the toilet and saw that she was more developed than anticipated but was blue and not moving. Luckily, Aileen is a mom and familiar with post-natal procedures so she wrapped the baby in a towel and cleared the baby’s mouth. She was relieved and filled with emotion when the baby began to cry and turn flush.
The ship’s doctors and nurses rushed in a few minutes later and used what instruments they had to clamp the umbilical cord and cut it (they are not prepared for births on a ship as pregnant women over 24 weeks are typically not allowed on board). They brought her to the ship’s infirmary where they gave her the labor-inducing drug, pitocin, to birth the placenta. They were in international waters and the captain announced that they would reroute their course to the nearest port, which was San Diego, so mom and baby could be transported to a hospital on shore. The US Coast Guard met up with the ship around noon and took baby and mom to the Kaiser Permanente Zion Hospital in San Diego.
There are only clues as to how far along the baby really was at birth, she was small at 4.8 lbs (but a healthy 18 inches), so the assumption was about 32 weeks (8 weeks premature) but later a doctor estimated her to be full term at 36 weeks. Both mom and baby, Cara Paradise (Paradise is the name of the ship) are doing very well. In fact, mom made a fast recovery. After only a week, she looks and feels like nothing had happened. I guess if you let nature take its course, your body knows how to recover!