A North Carolina woman who was 39 weeks pregnant found herself in the kind of position no new mom in labor wants to be in: on the outside looking in at a hospital, who kept denying her entry because they believed her not to be hours from giving birth.
Lauren Banks, despite her best efforts, ended up delivering her child between pumps four and five in the front seat of her Yukon XL at a gas station on her way back to Carolina East Medical Center, a hospital that her husband, Steve Banks, says had denied them admittance “a couple of times.”
“She was in obvious pain and labor,” Mr Banks told local news station WITN.
When the couple first went to the hospital on 23 March, one week before her due date, Ms Banks was four centimetres dilated, which was just one centimetre shy of where she needed to be to get admitted, Ms Banks told McClatchyNews.
The couple decided to go back home and wait until the work progressed more. But it wasn’t long before they realized they needed to get back to the hospital, which is about a half-hour drive from their family home in Bridgeton, North Carolina, WITN reported.
“Within 30 minutes of her being home her water broke,” Mr Banks said.
The pair hopped into their SUV, but Ms Banks quickly realized that the baby’s head was crowning well before they would make it to the hospital. At her request, her husband called 911 and while dispatchers stayed on the line to guide them, the mother, of now three children, gave birth in the parking lot of Handy Mart gas station.
EMTs brought the mother and son back to the same hospital that had denied the parents just an hour earlier, and Ms Banks described the looks on one of the nurses faces as if she’d “seen a ghost”.
The hospital, which McClatchy reached for comment but said they wouldn’t be able to disclose information due to patient privacy laws, initially told the expecting couple that the beds were full and that they wouldn’t be able to accept her until she was, by their definition, in labour.
The attending doctor who saw Ms Banks told her “he was sorry” she was in pain, but that she “was giving him no medical reason to keep” her, McClatchy reported.
“He said, ‘Your blood pressure’s fine, I can’t keep you due to pain.’”
In a statement later released by the hospital, they contend that they would “absolutely not turn anyone away.”
“It is our privilege to take care of those in need 24/7/365, and has been for more than 55 years.”
The statement continued to explain that the obstetrics department has particular measures in place for admitting pregnant mothers, and “unfortunately babies don’t always cooperate with expectations…we’ve heard all stories of newborns making debuts in homes, cars, restaurants, and even gas stations,” the hospital said, McClatchy reported.
“The Banks’ baby certainly made an unexpected entrance but we are so happy he is healthy and precious and absolutely wish the family all the best.”