Freeman didn’t know she was pregnant until her third trimester. She didn’t get her period every month because of the birth control she was on and didn’t notice any weird weight gain—so when she found out she was expecting, she was in denial. Because she had already spent a chunk of change on a vacation to Germany, she decided to follow through with it since she wasn’t due quite yet.
Everything seemed to be fine on the plane, but after she finished her complimentary meal, she started feeling a bit funny.
Freeman tried to sleep the cramps off, but when she woke up she felt even worse. Once she finally landed in her layover in Instanbul, getting through customs was her next battle. It was in that moment that Freeman realised the pain she was feeling wasn’t caused by what she thought was a sketchy meal. She was in labour… at the airport… in a foreign country.
“I’m literally gripping the railing trying to make it through the lines. At this point I feel like I’m about to pass out. I’m sweating. I feel like I have to vomit. I’m going through it. Then I’m like wait a minute b**** are you in labour?!!!” she tweeted. Determined not to deliver her baby in the middle of the airport, Freeman gave herself a pep talk and booked it to her hotel room.
That’s when she turned to Youtube. After doing a bit of research, she decided to have a water birth. She filled the tub with warm water and grabbed two towels—one to bite down on and one to wrap her baby in. Freeman notes that she became hyper-focused, keeping her cool as the adrenaline pumped through her.
She timed her contractions using her phone, trying to wait until they were at least two minutes apart. Once she hit a minute, though, the pain became unbearable and she began pushing—no epidural in sight. Before she knew it, her baby boy was born.
It doesn’t end there, though. The birth was messy. The placenta was still inside of her and she had an umbilical cord hanging out of her, which she eventually cut herself using just a knife. That’s when she finally cleaned up the hotel room, breastfed her newborn, and got some sleep.
Freeman didn’t head to the hospital until almost 24 hours later, which proved to be rather complicated. Not only did she have to convince local police of her story, but she also had to explain the entire thing to Turkish Airlines, since she came in without a baby and was trying to leave with one. She applied for a birth certificate and passport for her son—whom she named Xavier Ata Freeman—at the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul.
All in a day’s work, right?!
So you might be wondering, why didn’t she call the hospital right away? “Not many people spoke English that I encountered at first,” Freeman told The Independent. “And I didn’t know what the country’s emergency number was and I didn’t know how my insurance would work overseas so I just decided to DIY it.”
Of course, Freeman’s situation is pretty rare, but if you’re pregnant and travelling, there are a few things you can do to prepare just in case you have any medical concerns or go into labour unexpectedly, according to the Centress for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Make an appointment with a doctor who specializes in travel medicine. He or she can take a look at where you’re going and what you’re doing while you’re there to identify any health risks. You should also talk to your OB/GYN about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel at all.
- If it is safe for you to travel, ask your doc about any vaccines you should consider.
- Look into whether or not your insurance will cover medical care overseas. If not, consider getting supplemental travel insurance and make sure the policy covers the care of the baby, should you go into labor.
Obviously, any unplanned delivery has its risks, but Freeman and her son are both doing great. “I’m thankful that everything went well and I was able to deliver a healthy baby,” she added. “I know everyone isn’t always so fortunate, but I appreciate the experience and hopefully he’ll think it’s an amazing story when he’s older.”
This article originally appeared on Prevention US.