A 22-year-old Tennessee woman has an unbelievable birth story — but still insists she doesn’t “understand what’s so shocking” about it.
Then again, it may be hard to really rattle Tia Freeman. The new mum proved pretty unflappable when she gave birth in a hotel room on her own while on a layover in Istanbul on last month.
Tia, who has served in the Air Force since 2014, is now internet famous after her friend Jakob Johnson revealed on Twitter that she’d delivered her own baby boy during her travels.
Tia had been hoping to visit Jakob in Germany but never made it.
She told Yahoo Lifestyle that she flew 14 hours from Nashville to Istanbul, despite being in her third trimester, but didn’t arouse attention from the flight crew because “she didn’t really gain much weight.”
In fact, Freeman herself didn’t realise she was pregnant until about a month before her trip because she was on birth control, had irregular periods, and didn’t have a large bump.
Expectant mothers are typically prevented from flying after the 36th week of pregnancy, but Freeman didn’t want to miss out.
“[It’s] a definite no-no, but I chose to risk it because the tickets were nonrefundable,” she explained.
Tia’s travel plans included a 17-hour layover in Istanbul before flying on to meet Jakob in Germany. According to a Twitter thread she posted about the delivery, she started cramping about an hour before landing in Turkey but attributed this to a possible case of food poisoning.
The pain intensified as she went through customs at the airport, but even after consulting Google, Tia was still unsure if she was going through labor or having a false alarm. Either way, she was determined to not “give birth on the airport floor.”
She reached her hotel, then resumed her Googling.
“So in true millennial form I decided to YouTube [how to deliver a child],” she tweeted. “If no one else had my back the internet would! So here my a** is in my hotel room all by my lonesome learning how to deliver my own baby.”
Her strategy: filling a bathtub with warm water, grabbing towels (including one to bite into), trying out prime childbirth positions, and using the timer on her phone to keep track of her contractions. Before long, a baby boy — since named Xavier — entered the world.
But then there was the umbilical cord and placenta to deal with. The latter was disposed of in a sanitary bag she found in the hotel bathroom. Cutting the cord involved more Googling, boiling water in the in-room teakettle to sterilise her shoelaces to use as a makeshift clamp, and using her own knife to make the cut.
The next step: cleaning the bathroom “because it looked like the set of a horror movie”.
Unsure how to address the matter of a newborn baby in a foreign country, Tia and her infant returned to the airport, where Turkish Airlines staff were understandably bewildered.
“The airline was shocked,” she told Yahoo Lifestyle. “Since I didn’t really gain much weight they were like, ‘Did you really have a baby? They let you get on the plane?’ I responded that [the first flight crew] didn’t know.”
Staff for the airline bought Xavier — who has since become something of a Turkish celebrity — his first outfit, while Freeman was put in touch with doctors and officials at the local U.S. Embassy.
“Xavier wasn’t allowed to fly without a medical release and a passport,” Freeman told Yahoo Lifestyle. “The doctors there said he had to wait two weeks so his ears could handle the pressure, so we didn’t leave until [March 21].
“He also had to have a bunch of tests to make sure he was healthy enough to fly,” she added. “He had to get his heart and cranium sonogrammed, get all his vaccinations, check his lungs, and run countless blood tests. But he did amazingly on the flight. He didn’t cry once. Only a little whining when hungry. The airplane also had baby travel bassinets and gave away free baby-care bags complete with wipes, diaper rash [supplies], breast pads, baby food, diapers, etc.
“I had to apply for a certificate of birth abroad with the embassy, and they issued that to him along with an emergency passport for him to travel. It cost about $200 and took about a week to get everything done.”
Mother and son — who is now 7 weeks old — ended up skipping Germany and flying straight back to the U.S. Although they’re now settled back in Nashville, their Turkish adventure won’t be forgotten.
Tia gave Xavier the middle name Ata, a Turkish name that means “ancestor,” as a reminder of his (very dramatic) roots.
Tia has set up a GoFundMe account in hopes of offsetting medical costs from Xavier’s birth, since her insurance didn’t cover expenses abroad.
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