‘My husband delivered our daughter in a car park!’

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While mum Liandra from London, expected her second baby to come early, she didn't expect her husband would be the one delivering their daughter in the library car park!

My first child, my son Elio was born at 36 weeks plus five. So because he came technically prematurely, for the whole of my second pregnancy, we were leading up to the baby coming early. So I was kind of on edge from about 33/34 weeks because Elio came at 36 weeks and everyone says, ‘Oh, the second comes earlier!’ I had everything packed and everything ready. And then every day that went past meant that it felt like she was then overdue.

My cousin has been my midwife during both pregnancies and so she was taking care of me throughout the pregnancy and towards the end, we were having weekly appointments. So when I was at 39 weeks, she offered me a sweep. And so I said, ‘Yeah, let's go ahead.’

And when she did the sweep, she said to me, 'Oh, gosh, you're about three to four centimetres dilated. And your waters are bulging and baby's head is there.' She had one hand doing the sweep and with the other arm I was holding on to it like 'Oh my god, does this mean the baby's gonna come?’ And she was like, 'No, because you're not in active labour, you're not having contractions. So just go home, take it easy, and baby should make an appearance within the next 24 to 48 hours.'

So I left Elio with my mum overnight, just in case, so that if it did happen overnight I didn't have to worry about childcare for him. My husband Darrell was at work and not due home till about 11pm, so I was on edge, thinking, 'gosh, what if it happens this evening?' But it didn't, my husband came home and it was fine.

I had a good night's sleep, I woke up in the morning and my mum dropped Elio back to me and I thought, 'Well, okay, it's obviously not happening. There are no signs of that happening. So I'll just carry on as normal' I had quite a bit of energy at this point so I started hanging some curtains around the house, cleaning the bathrooms, the kitchen, did some hoovering, did a couple of loads of washing, started cleaning the windows, and then my husband was out in the garden doing the gardening, and I thought 'Well, I might as well try that as well, give that a go!'

So I was raking in the garden with him and Elio was having a nap. I then had a bit of a funny feeling in my belly and just said to my husband, 'I think I need to go in and sit down.' And he didn't really take much notice, he was like, 'Okay, all right then.' And so I went back inside and had to go to the toilet and then Elio woke up from a nap and he needed a nappy change so I started changing his nappy and had a contraction midway through him being on the changing table.

I called my husband and said, 'I think it's happening, you need to start wrapping it up and come inside.' I then had a second contraction three minutes later. And when I noticed that it was only three minutes in between I thought 'Oh gosh, right, now it's actually happening.' Bearing in mind this was only my second contraction and not much had been given away between the sweep, and needing to go to the toilet.

The contractions were so strong and blindingly painful. So I called Darrell again and said, 'No, seriously, you need to get in from the from the garden, this is happening now.' I then called my mum and asked her if she could come back from work to look after Elio and I made a third call, which was to triage to say, 'I'm having contractions, I'm in labour, and I'm going to start making my way in.' The midwife asked how long ago the contractions started. I felt a little bit sheepish at this point in saying that it only started eight minutes ago so I told a fib and said it was 20 minutes. But that wasn't enough, she said to me, 'If you come here and you're not in active labour, I'm just going to send you home.' And I was mid contraction at this point, I just said 'It's happening. I'm coming in.' And then she was like, 'Okay, well if you're sure, you've been there once before. So I just need to tell you that I may send you home' and I said, 'No, no, no, I'm coming.'

It's happening. I'm coming in.

At this point my 16-month-old was running around, chucking my shoes out of the wardrobe. My husband was filthy from head to toe from gardening but I told him there was no time to jump in the shower. So we went downstairs to get in the car and as I was at the top of the stairs, I had a fourth contraction and said 'I don't think I'm going to make it' and started getting a bit upset and then Darrell said 'You know we need to just at least try and make it there. We just need to get in the car, let's just get there we'll be fine.'

I got to the bottom of stairs, kissed Elio and my mum goodbye and walked up the pathway to the house and had a fifth contraction, I realised that they were getting even closer and then really started getting upset, saying 'It's not going to happen. I'm not going to make it in time.' But Darrell just was encouraging me like 'Let's get in the car. It only takes 20 minutes to get to the hospital. We'll be fine. Let's just get there.'

We got into the car, turned right and then left. I had another contraction and my waters went in the car, it was such a huge contraction. It just felt like every part of my body was just in pain. And it felt almost as though I heard the pop. It was just this almighty gush. My cousin had told me the day before that when your waters go, it's because you are three to four centimetres dilated and the head is there. It's likely when your waters go, the labour can proceed quite quickly. I don't think anybody expected it to be this quickly!

As soon as the waters went, I then started shouting 'Oh my god, I think you need to pull up, we need to call an ambulance. The baby's coming.' And I think Darrell kind of just thought, 'Okay, let me just keep her calm.' He said 'It's fine. Let me call your cousin the midwife and we'll just ask her advice.' I suddenly said, 'Don't call her, call an ambulance.' At this point, I was doing a little bit of screaming and swearing and basically said, 'Call an effing ambulance and pull the car up, this baby is coming' and he called 999.

When your waters go, the labour can proceed quite quickly. I don't think anybody expected it to be this quickly!

There was a library nearby so I told him to pull up into the car park. As soon as he pulled into a parking space in the car park, he put the hazards on, we were then through to 999 and my husband was explaining: 'My wife's in labour and she thinks that she needs to push.'

I had undone the seat belt, turned round onto my knees and was holding on to the headrest in the front seat because we had two car seats in the back of the car, one for Elio and then the baby seat for the unborn child. And I heavily grunting, having strong contractions and the lady on the phone explained that Darrell needed to get both car seats out of the back of the car, to be able to get me into the back so I could lie down on my back. It was like a comedy sketch - he jumped out of the front seat and ran around the car to get one car seat out, throw it onto the floor of the car park and then around to the other car seat to do the same.

The woman from 999 was on the loudspeaker and was asking 'What's happening? What's the number registration? What colour is the car and exactly where are you and do you know the postcode?' And even in mid contractions, I was still trying to listen to her and giving her the number plate of the car.

And once Darrell got the car seats out of the back, I kind of just threw myself in between the two front seats into the back. And as I turned over and my legs were open, my husband just said on the phone: 'The heads coming. It's coming!' And then I had a strong contraction and delivered the head. Meanwhile, Darrell was on the phone to 999 and she was explaining 'As the head is being delivered, I need you to support the head and shoulders.' And he was just shouting 'No, the head is here!' And she said 'Okay, so now we're going to support the shoulders.'

I think Darrell got into a moment of panic at that point, it was like 'Oh, sh*t, this is happening without any doctors and paramedics, no ambulance and the baby's head is there.'  We were kind of in this moment of four degrees freezing cold weather in November, and all the car doors were open, with the hazards on and nobody to tell us It's okay or what to do. Darrell was panicking and started saying to me, 'You need to push, you need to push.' But I wasn't having a contraction to push so it wasn't really doing much. And then the next contraction came and with his encouragement, I gave an almighty push I think she came out on on the next contraction.

She let out a little cry and we were just in floods of tears. But then she didn't really make much more noise so then the panic set back in. We didn't have any towels, we didn't have anything. The baby bag hadn't even been opened. I think it was like abandoned on the floor with the car seats. Darrell had just ripped his jumper off and, tucked that underneath my bum for when she was being delivered so we wrapped her up in that and put her on my belly and were rubbing her. In memory, it felt like she wasn't breathing for a couple of minutes. But it probably was about 30 seconds. It was just petrifying like that point where she wasn't crying, and she was quite blue. And at that moment, like, she was just a baby, we didn't know what sex she was. The paramedic said to us, 'Do you know, what is it? What is it?' We were like, 'Oh, God, we don't know.'  It was a lot to take in.

We were both holding her when she started crying. And then Darrell was like, 'I think it's a girl!' And then I kind of turned her around and went 'Yeah, it's a girl!' And so we had that moment of realizing that, 'Oh, we've got a daughter! And she's crying! And everything seems to be okay!' But I don't think we had that sense of release because there was so much panic tied up in it.

I was in the back of the car dress hiked up, the baby on my chest wrapped up in my husband's jumper and nothing was even sterile. Darrell was still on the phone to the ambulance who were explaining that we needed to talk about cutting the umbilical cord. But we could see the blue lights of the ambulance. And then these two lovely guys from the ambulance stuck their heads through the car door and congratulated us.

They took Rosa off of me but she was connected to me by the cord so they wrapped her up in a blanket and held onto her and then I had to kind of like shimmy out of the car very closely. They put me on a stretcher and put me in the back of the ambulance. I think we stayed there for about 20 minutes and they just checked over our temperature and blood pressure and then drove us to Barnet Hospital and on the way I then had to deliver the placenta, which was another load of fun!

I spent six hours in the hospital before coming home. It was crazy. We left the hospital, came home, got into bed and had her in the cot next to us. And it was like, 'Phwoar, that was a day!'

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