Try And Avoid . . . . .Try and avoid sitting next to pregnant women on a long-distance bus trip!
Over the past 6 years I traveled quite extensively for work purposes and on three different continents, I’ve used every conceivable form of transport, varying from the luxury of inter-continental air travel to the bare necessities on the back of a donkey cart in Africa. Lately my preferred form of travel is the comfortable long distance busses in Argentina.
About 6 months ago I traveled to Buenos Aires to meet with up a group of friends. I decided to take the overnight bus knowing that I can expect to bargain on at least six hours of sleep .The secret is to put on your headphones immediately after finishing your meal and pretending to be asleep. I had quite an uneventful trip until we stopped at Rosario (a city halfway to Buenos Aires) where more passengers boarded. I heard here coming before I saw her. She was complaining (in a surprisingly loud voice for a woman of such petite build) about the fact that she had to get sit on the top deck whilst she told the people at reservations that she is pregnant and in no condition to climb up those narrow stairs. Her complaints fell on deaf ears because the bus was fully booked and she had to make her way to the chair directly across the aisle from me. The moment I saw her I felt sorry for her. She could not have been taller than 1.60 meters, of slender build (except for this almost exaggerated pregnant bulge) and looked extremely uncomfortable as she sat down. The conductor enquired about her state of her pregnancy and particularly if she is in a fit state to travel. She assured him that the baby is only due in three weeks and that the doctor gave her the green light to take the trip.
We were barely on our way for half an hour before it started! I heard this horrendous growl (it is the only way I can describe it) coming from her. She bent over double and clutched at her stomach screaming: “The baby is arriving!” That must be the emergency evacuation code in Argentina because the next moment everybody (men and women) sitting within three rows round her just disappeared and I was the only one .left. From my own experience of witnessing the birth of my three children I could see she was probably correct in her assessment but I tried to calm her down and asked her to hang on until we can get to the hospital in the next town. Somebody rushed downstairs to inform the driver of the situation at hand and she returned saying that they are returning to the closest town and that an ambulance has been called to meet us on the way.
I did my best to get her to relax in order to delay the birth but to no avail because the next moment she just pulled down her tracksuit pants and said it is coming! I have never seen a baby pop out so quickly and was just in time to catch it before he hit the floor. With nobody on the bus offering to help I had no other choice but to play the role of “midwife” and I just did what I’ve seen the medical staff do during my wife’s deliveries. By the time the ambulance arrived, I have cut the umbilical cord, tied it with my shoelaces and cleaned the baby with some moist paper towels that somebody handed me. All the time my fellow passengers (standing at a safe distance) cheered me on vocally and with loud applause. The paramedics even congratulated me on a job well done.
I don’t know if she’s kept her promise but the grateful mother said she’ll name the baby after me. But, let me tell you one thing. The next time a pregnant woman gets onto a bus I am traveling on I am getting off right there and then!