Most mothers have an interesting birth story. By default, they tend to contain at least a few surprises, twists, and turns. But no matter how spellbinding your own tale is, there's no way you can compete with Tia Freeman, who gave birth in a hotel room by herself in a foreign country, and still acts like it's no big deal. "I still really don't understand what's so shocking about my delivery story," she tweeted on Tuesday, musing that "maybe it'll set in one day."
Freeman's story unfolded in an incredible Twitter thread that was not only a fascinating journey, but a really entertaining read, thanks to the new mom's sense of humor and liberal use of GIFs. The thread gained significant attention after it was shared by Freeman's friend, University of Tennessee football player Jakob Johnson. Freeman was on the way to visit Johnson in his hometown of Stuttgart, Germany, when she had what ended up being the most eventful layover of her life — or practically anyone's life, really — in a hotel room in Istanbul, Turkey. Her strength and ingenuity gained national attention over there at the time, but it's just now, seven weeks later, that we're hearing about it back home.
Freeman wrote that she didn't realize that she was pregnant until well into her third trimester, because she didn't gain much weight at all, and her birth control pills suppressed her monthly period, so there was no indication that anything was off. She was temporarily living out of state at the time, away from her loved ones, and went into a state of deep denial, not telling anyone that she was pregnant. Plus, she had plans: "I had already purchased tickets for a vacay in Germany and ya girl was not about to waste international flight money," she explained. Besides, the baby wasn't due yet.
The trouble started when all the meals on her 14-hour flight had meat in them. Freeman is a vegetarian, she wrote, but she couldn't wait that long to eat something, so she bit the bullet and opted for the fish selection.
I don't know if it was [sic] he salmon, the flight, or it was just my time but out of no where I start cramping up. I've still got like an hour left before we land. I just knew I had food poisoning.
It wasn't until she was waiting to get through customs that it finally occurred to her that the salmon probably wasn't the problem.
I'm literally gripping the railing trying to make it through the lines. At this point I feel like I'm about to pass out. I'm sweating. I feel like I have to vomit. I'm going through it. Then I'm like wait a minute b*tch are you in labor?!!!
Freeman was determined not to give birth at the airport, so she focused on making it to her hotel room. Once there, though, she was all alone, and didn't even know how to summon the paramedics in Turkey. "So in true millennial form I decided to Youtube it," she wrote, deciding that a water birth in the hotel room tub would be her best option.
"It's weird how focused a person becomes when they're adrenaline starts going," she continued, "Because at no point ever did I freak out." Meanwhile, I'm freaking out just reading about this.
With her contractions just a minute apart, Freeman said she only had to push a few times, adding, "let me tell you babies are buoyant. That little joker said bloop and floated right on up to the top of the water."
After passing the placenta, she used the hotel room's tea kettle to boil water in order to sterilize a shoelace, which she used to tie off the umbilical cord before cutting it. MacGyver who? Before going to sleep, she even cleaned up the bathroom. The next morning, she wrapped up her son in a spare shirt and boarded her pre-scheduled cab for the airport. She didn't expect to board her connecting flight, she wrote, but "I didn't know what I would need to leave the country with a newborn baby and I thought no better place to ask than the airport." Clever!
The airline staff was understandably flummoxed, but after learning about what happened, they provided Freeman with a translator and a ride to the U.S. Consulate, and then to a hospital, where doctors determined that both she and baby Xavier were in perfect health. They even put her up in a hotel for two weeks, meals included, and upgraded her for the flight home two weeks later.
"Oh and no one knew I had a baby until days after I gave birth to him (not even my mom) so I sprang this story on everyone," she added. That's one hell of a souvenir. Not only does she have the most enthralling story to tell at parties for the rest of her life, she got a beautiful baby out of it, too.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.