The 5 Most Insane Childbirth Stories of All Time
The "woman goes into labor in some crazy location" bit is so cliche on TV shows that you'd think no story could shock us. We've seen babies get born in elevators and the back seats of cabs, there was that shadow baby thing on Game of Thrones ...
But once again, real life kicks fiction's ass when it comes to situations that seem too absurd to be real. Here are five real women who stretched the bounds of believability by ...
Giving Birth in a Tree, During a Flood
You see catastrophic floods on the news and you can only imagine what it's like to be those people huddled on their rooftop, or paddling around their submerged house in a canoe. But we bet we can think of one woman who can claim the title of Most Harrowing Flood Situation Possible.
It happened in 2000, when Mozambique suffered the worst floods in 50 years. A woman named Sofia Pedro was very, very pregnant at the time. She also failed to make it to shelter.
"Yeah, I'm daring you to complain about anything at all, ever, for any reason."
Instead, she was caught by the floods and forced to climb a tree to escape the rushing water, which some of us couldn't have managed under the best of circumstances, let alone while panicked and very, very pregnant. She then had to stay in that tree for three freaking days.
Again, just the circumstances we have so far stretch this beyond any reasonable person's imagination: three days, while pregnant, starving, terrified, soaking wet, with a devastating current of water just feet below you, ready to sweep you away if you tumble out.
And then she went into labor.
An actual photo from the scene.
While that may sound like extraordinarily bad luck in an already terrible situation, it's actually just the body's natural way of saying "We're ditching everything that can turn us into an anchor." So, 20 feet up in that tree above deadly flood waters, Sofia birthed her baby all alone -- successfully -- and held on to her in the branches until a rescue helicopter spotted them.
While it's miraculous that Sofia and the baby both survived, we have a thousand logistical questions we want to ask her. For starters, the narrow limbs of trees aren't exactly conducive places to squeezing out a newborn ... so how did a normal, two-handed woman keep the baby from falling while hanging from a tree? When the first rescue worker reached her and discovered that she was holding a baby attached to a dangling placenta, how did he keep from screaming? Is that the only story Sofia Pedro's friends will hear at every party for the rest of their lives?
"Yeah, that was cool. But where have you given birth this week?"
Having a Baby in a Sinking Car
If we told you that a pregnant woman didn't make it to the hospital and gave birth in her car, your first response would likely be, "So what? Doesn't that kind of thing happen all of the time? We've seen that in like eight movies and 25 sitcoms." And then we would, of course, accuse you of being a witch for hyperlinking your voice like that. But you're right, babies fall out of ladies in cars so frequently that car companies really ought to start accounting for it in their fabric choices for the seats.
Knowing that giving birth to a car baby was old hat, Kennyetta Biggs upped the ante and gave birth to her child in a car while it was sinking to the bottom of a goddamn lake.
"All that money I paid to learn breathing exercises ..."
At five in the morning, Biggs left her home to drive to the hospital to have her child. "But why didn't she ask a family member to drive her?" you might ask. Well, Biggs was only 21 and kept the pregnancy a secret from her parents, maybe because she wasn't clear on how pregnancies generally end and she thought she could get away with it. Also because she probably didn't think the situation would turn into a national news story.
So in the predawn hours, she presumably slipped the car into neutral and coasted it out of the driveway like a rebellious teen, except one who sneaks out to have secret babies at hospitals. While driving, a strong contraction made her lose control and she crashed. At some point she realized that she hadn't just run off into a field, but that her car was slowly sinking into the depths of a murky lake. While she was strapped into that car, while going into labor.
"And my cellphone is almost out of minutes!"
Fortunately, the local deputy was on his way to work, and thanks to some top-notch sleuthing, he noticed that there was a car in the lake that hadn't been there the day before. Biggs was trapped inside the vehicle, and by the time the deputy arrived, there was already a newborn girl hanging out in the passenger seat, playing it cool and hoping the cop wouldn't notice that her umbilical cord wasn't a seat belt.
He pried the door open to rescue Kennyetta and pull her out of the lake. Even though she suffered a broken leg, her daughter was just fine. While there's no existing record of the conversation that occurred between Kennyetta and the deputy as he tried to free her from the sinking car, we're assuming it was something along the lines of "Please don't tell my mom and dad."
"What did I tell you kids about coming out here and having babies in this lake?"
Giving Birth in a Train Toilet (That Empties onto the Tracks)
Considering how traumatic the unsettlingly common "I accidentally had a baby in a toilet" situation must be, it's hard to imagine how anyone would top it. Let's put it this way: It takes a story so bizarre that we would have immediately dismissed it as a hoax if it wasn't being reported by the Reuters news agency.
On a passenger train in India, pregnant 33-year-old Bhuri Kalbi reportedly left her seat to go use the restroom. Now, if you've never been lucky enough to use a train toilet in India, the system is pretty simple: It consists of a seat and a hole that leads directly to the ground below, effectively turning the train tracks into one long extended line of human waste. Needless to say, there aren't a lot of kids crushing pennies on the rails.
Seriously, if you've never done that, you have some childhood to revisit.
When Kalbi sat down to relieve herself, she was apparently overenthusiastic about it, because she accidentally gave premature birth to her child. And just like everything else people squeezed out of themselves in that toilet, it slipped down the hole onto the tracks while the train was moving.
Kalbi immediately passed out from giving birth, but when she came to, she realized she no longer had a baby kicking around inside her. After telling the staff and her family, they stopped the train and radioed to other rail workers that they should keep their eyes out for a baby along the horrendous shit trail known as the Indian railway.
So many old country songs now make so much more sense.
Miraculously, they found the child, a bit shaken and two months early, but completely fine other than that. Kalbi and her family rushed to the hospital, and the child was placed in the ICU. Of course, the little girl will go on to live the rest of her life knowing that the luckiest thing to ever happen to her involved falling down the toilet of a speeding train onto the cushion of shit below. Those aren't baby book images you can really pass around at dinner parties.
"And that's why you're named 'Turdstreak Trackthumper.' Now go play with your brother, 'Normal Vagina Baby.'"
Having a Baby While Shrimping
As you've likely gathered, this is a story about a woman giving birth on a shrimping boat, but it's less about her and the baby and more about Ed Kiesel, captain of the boat and makeshift obstetrician who delivered the child. If you're lucky enough to meet Ed Kiesel someday, he'd probably be able to pull at least one baby out of you on the spot. He's that good at delivering kids.
Cindy Preisel was working as a cook on the ship 30 miles off shore when she went into labor. Kiesel heard her screaming, coolly assessed the situation and threw down some paper towels while consulting his first aid handbook to see if there was a chapter on prying kids out of hysterical women.
"This is going to take a lot more Band-Aids."
While unaccustomed to delivering babies on his boat, or anywhere, he noticed that the baby was coming out feet first, and that was a problem. For some context, even a hospital staff will panic when a baby is breech, but Kiesel kept his cool and reached in gently during the contractions to free each of the shoulders with his fingertips. Then he had to reach inside the mother again to free the head. Keep in mind that the process is incredibly delicate, like a pulling a Jell-O mold, intact, through the sleeve of a sweater you really don't want to stretch.
When the baby was finally free, it wasn't breathing, so Kiesel flipped forward a few chapters to CPR and administered chest compressions and breaths for 25 minutes before the baby came to life. Take a minute to process how long that is. When a patient dies on the table in television shows, the other doctors will only let the really optimistic doctor pound on his chest and breathe into his mouth for around 30 seconds before pulling him away and saying "He's gone, man!" Twenty-five minutes is the length of that entire show without commercials, and Kiesel performed CPR that entire time.
Well, if you want to call it that. It was mostly him screaming "Stop not breathing, asshole!"
Once the baby was breathing, Kiesel tied off the umbilical cord with twine to cut it and fashioned a baby bottle out of a soy sauce bottle because of course he did.
For his heroics under pressure, Cindy Preisel named the baby Brian Edward Preisel, because apparently she was appreciative enough to honor the man who rescued her baby, but not so appreciative that she'd make "Edward" his first name.
Which isn't all that bad, considering she formerly just knew him as "That Mustache Guy."
Having Three Babies During Three Tornadoes
We're being completely serious when we say that the government needs to start keeping a close eye on Samantha Oakley in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, because she is giving birth to supervillains.
In 2008, a doctor performed her C-section by flashlight because the power was out thanks to a massive tornado picking up and dropping everything else in town. But what at first seems miraculous takes a turn toward the ominous when we know her history of childbearing. Oakley already had two other kids, both born in the middle of tornadoes. That's right; three babies, three tornadoes.
"I gave birth to my first tornado back in 2005."
That news story only quotes the mother's word as the source of that claim, but sure enough, there are records of a tornado outbreak there in November of 2005 and another in September of 2006, just as she says. So if she's lying, then she would have had to fake the birth dates of her kids just to get herself on the local news.
And even if you don't believe in omens, you have to admit, every baby being greeted with a destructive storm is totally an omen. A bad one. Either that or the mother has the strangely specific superpower of summoning tornadoes while laying flat and screaming with labor pains.
Aftermath of the conception.
Actually, there might be an alternate explanation: The man who performed the C-section under a flashlight is using his obstetric powers to birth an army of children who can themselves harness the power of natural disasters. He's been pulling babies out of women during catastrophic storms for years. In Japan, he delivered newborns during typhoons and without the luxury of hospital equipment. His name? Dr. Richard Good. Yes, we totally believe that's your real name and not some kind of supervillain alter ego, "Dr. Dick Good."
Yeah, there's no way that face wasn't peeled off of one of his victims and worn as his own.
For more instances of real life outdoing fiction, check out 5 Bizarre Real Life Gangs That Put The Warriors to Shame and The 6 Most Incredible Real World Beast Masters.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out The Bizarrely Specific Haircut of Popular Paperback Writers.