When Janna Oehlschlaeger and her husband went for a walk after checking into Inanna Birth & Women’s Care on Thursday, they thought they’d go for a casual stroll.
But 20 minutes into their walk around the paths near Lowry Woods Apartments at Texas Woman’s University, everything changed.
“As we were walking, I felt like my contractions were getting hard and I remember thinking, ‘OK, this isn’t good if they are this hard.’ I thought I had hours ahead of me,” she said.
They were on the far side of the park and she told her husband, Ben, she couldn’t walk; then her water broke. He tried to start carrying her back to Inanna while their friend, Elizabeth, ran to the center to alert the midwife and staff.
“One of her legs was dangling, and I was running across the park and got about a quarter of the way before people met me and tried to carry her with me,” he said. “But she said, ‘Put me down, I need to push.’”
Their new son, Henry Tod, arrived soon after, at 1:56 p.m. For Jean Sala-Smith, the owner and clinical director of the birthing center who delivered the baby, it was the most dramatic birth of her career. She ran across the street with birthing assistants carrying towels and supplies and enough people to huddle around Oehlschlaeger to shield her from passersby.
“They probably thought we were doing some scene from a movie or something,” Oehlschlaeger said. “It was really crazy, but in that crazy situation it was really calm. Everything went really, really smooth, and for it being a crazy situation it was kind of a textbook birth.”
But the situation was something new for Sala-Smith, who has delivered babies in other unusual situations before, like in the back of cars.
“I’ve delivered more than 3,000 babies in my lifetime, but never something like this,” Sala-Smith said. “Mom was really rattled and the dad I thought was going to have a heart attack — my heart just broke for him because I know he was so scared. Nobody comes in and says they’re going for a leisurely walk with the anticipation of giving birth in 20 minutes.”
The Oehlschlaegers didn’t think anything of going for a walk, as Janna was only 5 centimeters dilated at the time. They had gone for a walk before the birth of their other son, J.B. That time it took six hours of labor, including three once they arrived at the birthing center, so they didn’t think twice.
“I’m not a risk taker by any means, so if I had really thought — and I mean we weren’t that far from here — but I wouldn’t have even walked to that point if I had thought that was actually going to happen,” Janna Oehlschlaeger said.
JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @JennaFDuncan.