There are few vacations one can take that are more magical and relaxing than heading to Hawaii. There you can revel in the breathtaking natural beauty, splash in the warm South Pacific waters, imbibe delicious tropical drinks... and, just maybe, give birth on the flight to Honolulu when you didn’t know you were pregnant!
That’s what happened to Utah resident Lavinia Mounga. On April 28, she left Salt Lake City on a flight to Honolulu with her family. One can safely assume that the most exciting thing anyone was expecting to happen was to land in Hawaii. But about half-way through the flight, Mounga went into labor and and said “aloha!” to a premature baby boy.
“I just didn’t know I was pregnant,” Mounga told KOHN2. “This guy just came out of nowhere.”
But what could have been a nightmare scenario took a fortunate turn when, as it just so happens, not one, not two, but three NICU nurses from North Kansas City Hospital just happened to be on board, as well as a doctor, family physician Dale Glenn. In an April 29 Facebook post, one of the nurses, Lani Bamfield, estimated the boy to be approximately 26 to 27 weeks gestation. The impromptu team used what they had on hand to monitor the child – Glenn told KHON2 that microwaved bottles became baby warmers; an Apple watch was used to measure his heart rate.
When the plane arrived about three hours later, mom and baby were whisked to Kapiolani Medical Center. Department of Transportation spokesperson Jai Cunningham told KHON2 that, fortunately, this wasn’t designated a medical emergency. “That sort of notifies you that mom and baby were in good shape,” he explained. A video posted to TikTok by user @JuliaBernice shows Mounga and her son exiting the plane to happy applause from the other passengers.
A few days later, the baby’s new “aunties” and Dr. Glenn visited the pair in the hospital.
“If they weren’t there, I don’t think he would be here,” Mounga said. “So I’m very blessed.” She went on to say that everyone has been very kind and she can feel the spirit of aloha around her and her newborn.
Mama Mounga has since been discharged from Kapiolani, but her son will remain in the NICU for a while longer until he’s strong enough to go home to Utah. (Hey, if you have to be stuck somewhere for a while, you could do worse than Hawaii, right?) In a post on Facebook, the baby’s father, Ethan Magalei (who was not on the plane and has not yet met his child) shared that the tiny little boy has a big name: Raymond Kaimana Wade Kobe Lavaki Mounga. “I’m nervous, scared, anxious, excited, shocked all out into one,” Magalei wrote. “I want to be the best dad and want nothing but the best for him.”
“Overwhelmed in the best ways,” Mounga wrote on her Twitter account, before indicating a few days later that her social media accounts have been anything but calm. We feel you, mama.