Imagine going on a family vacation in the middle of a global pandemic only to prematurely give birth to a baby you didn't even know you were having...on the flight there?!
We know. We can't imagine it either. But for Utah resident Lavinia Mounga, this imaginary scenario became a reality last week when she went into labour midway through a packed flight from Salt Lake City to Honolulu.
The TikTok video below shows the aftermath of the totally unbelievable sequence of events. In it, we hear supportive passengers applauding mom and baby as they're being wheeled down the aisle and off the plane. The video was posted by Julia Hansen and has been viewed over three million times.
So, what actually happened?
Once the cabin crew and passengers clued in to the unexpected delivery, the medical emergency call went out quickly. The response was an unlikely one: Three NICU nurses and one doctor were, coincidentally, also on the flight, and rushed to the scene.
"I don't know how a patient gets so lucky as to have three neonatal intensive care nurses on board the same flight when she is in emergency labour," said family physician Dr. Dale Glenn, who also helped Mounga safely care for the newborn.
Nurse Lani Bamfield was the first to respond and found both the mom and the just-delivered baby, born at only 29 weeks gestation, near one of the plane bathrooms. She quickly called her colleagues, fellow NICU nurses Mimi Ho and Amanda Beeding, over to assess the situation, with Glenn arriving shortly after.
“I went back there first, and she is holding a baby, underneath the toilet almost," Bamfield told a local Hawaii news station. "And so I’m yelling, ‘Mimi! There’s a baby, and it’s little!'”
Once the four-person team was assembled, they sprang into action, using microwaved bottles as improvised baby warmers and a smart watch as a heart rate monitor.
"If they weren't there, I don't think he would be here, so I'm very blessed," Mounga said of the impromptu medical team.
You may be wondering how someone who is apparently six or seven months along didn't know they were pregnant until they started showing signs of labour. According to Mounga, it was just as simple as that—she didn't know. "This guy just came out of nowhere," she said.
Glenn, the family physician on board, says this actually isn't that unusual. "I don't know if the public really realizes that some women just don't know they're pregnant, and especially early in the pregnancy where the baby isn't very large, and a woman has a history of irregular menstrual cycles. There are some women who just don't realize they're carrying something."
Regardless, we're just glad that the medical team was able to keep Mounga and her new baby stable during the rest of the flight, and that when they landed, they were taken straight to a medical center for assessment.
We do hope that after all of the excitement, the family was able to enjoy their vacation, though. Looks like the baby, who has been named Raymond, just didn't want to sit this sun-soaked vacay out. And honestly, after gazing longingly at other people's sunny beach pictures on Instagram for over a year...we don't blame him!