My husband and I were watching a movie the first time I experienced labor. He wanted to head to the hospital immediately, but I made him stay so I could see how the film ended and at least finish my popcorn. He voiced his concern over the possibility of my water breaking, too. I told him to stop talking while the movie was playing. At the time I guess it was pretty intense, but after I asked moms to share the awkward place they went into labor I realized that my story is very tame by comparison.
When you're pregnant it's easy to feel like you're the center of everyone's attention, whether you like it or not. But as these moms discovered, going into labor when you're in public can make you feel like you're on stage and the spotlight is entirely on you. I know moms who've gone into labor at work, while shopping at places Target and Buy Buy Baby, while eating out at restaurants, while getting an oil change, and even while waiting in line at the Starbucks drive-thru. I've known moms who've had the oh-so-awkward experience of their water breaking in public, too. I can imagine that is nothing if not mildly embarrassing.
The truth is, labor can happen anywhere and at any time, and while it might see awkward or feel uncomfortable it's a normal, typical, and necessary part of the whole "bringing a baby into the world" thing. So take it from the following moms that even if you go into labor in the most awkward of places, it's not the end of the world. In fact, it's the beginning of someone else's.
"I technically was in early labor in the middle of the night but I didn’t know it. This was my first baby, and he wasn’t due for another month, so I went about my day that included a trip to the doctor's office, where she told me it still could be weeks. Then I went to get groceries, got my hair cut, dropped off my car for an oil change, stopped into my work to pick up insurance info and FMLA forms, and then went to get a pedicure. I went back to pick up my car at the shop and realized I was in labor, but I still drove myself home. That was 4:30 p.m. and I had my son at 7:48 p.m."
"I was in Buy Buy Baby looking at all the little preemie and newborn clothes, regretting the decision to not find out the gender. I was wrangling my other two kids and then suddenly it felt like I wet my pants. I went into the bathroom thinking my water was leaking, since it wasn’t a big gush, but it turns out it was my mucus plug. I got excited and texted my husband a picture (I'm pretty sure I still have it saved on my phone), since it was the first sign of anything happening and I was overdue. Baby was born about 20 hours later."
"I was a waitress for years and went into labor while taking a table's order."
"My water broke in the middle of a bar. I was 39 weeks pregnant. The bar was holding an October Fest event with cheap beers and free pool, so we went. It was my turn at pool, so I stood up from my stool and my water broke in one massive gush. It soaked me and the floor. I was mortified."
"I'm a farmer. I was in labor with my second while handing out CSA boxes to our members. By the end of our pick-up day, though, I was inside and people kept asking where I was. My husband was like, 'Oh, she's in the house in labor.' My baby was born in an inflatable fishy pool in the kitchen a few hours later."
"I was at work, putting out 'day after Christmas' sale stock at a Sears store when I was in labor. It was Christmas Eve, and my mom followed me around the store asking if I was OK every two minutes. One of my coworkers was a first responder for the volunteer fire department. He pleaded with me not to have the baby there. I didn't.
I didn't deliver until the day after Christmas. I had contractions, went to labor and delivery, and they checked me and sent me home because 'you could be like this for weeks.' So, we went to dinner, I had a giant burrito, and my water broke shortly after while playing video games in my roommate's chair."
"I was almost five centimeters dilated while ordering at Dunkin Donuts. I felt for sure my boy was coming, but I ended up spending about 20 more hours at the birth center, which included a walk around the residential neighborhood with me stopping for a contraction twice a block and throwing up on the sidewalk. My son first appeared a few hours later, while I was desperately trying to pee on the toilet. Just a smidge awkward."
"It was my due date and I decided to take my older child to the pool to swim for a bit. I didn’t feel like actually getting in the water that day. I sat on the edge of the pool, put both feet in the water, and felt a hot gush. I stood up and the fluid just kept pouring out of me. I then had to walk the two blocks home with amniotic fluid pouring out of my body."
"I was at a garage sale. My doctor's office was only a couple blocks away. We hit garage sales along the way to our appointment that day. When I got there I found out I was already at seven centimeters."
"I went into labor two weeks early at 2:00 a.m., while driving my drunk husband and his drunk friends home from a birthday party. I got everyone home and had the baby at 5:30 a.m."
"I had my bloody show in a Target bathroom."
"I was laboring at home with baby number three, trying to wait until I knew my local hospital would keep me since I didn’t want to have another military hospital birth. I decided to wake my husband up around 5:00 a.m. to give him time to shower before saying 'it’s go time.' We got in the car and he asked if there was time for Starbucks. We were in the drive-thru trapped between the three cars in front and the one or two behind when I went into active labor. We made it to the hospital, but not in time for an epidural."