She had come to the hospital, Rabia Balkhi Hospital in central Kabul, Afghanistan, the day before with strong pangs of pain in her abdomen only to be sent home. She was told she was experiencing “false pain,” and was not yet in labor.
The next day, as her contractions grew more and more urgent, Afsa knew that this time her baby really was coming. Her husband Rahul hailed a taxi and soon they were on their way to Rabia Balkhi Hospital, more than an hour’s drive away. It was a rainy day, and the traffic was heavy. Afsa struggled to stay calm as her contractions intensified. Rahul sat with her in the back seat, holding her hand and helping her breathe, but still she worried, “What if I don’t make it to the hospital in time?”
Afsa was right to worry. By the time the taxi pulled up to the hospital around noon, she had already given birth.
Rahul rushed into Rabia Balkhi Hospital and returned with two nurses by his side. The nurses’ faces were a mix of disbelief and concern. Rabia Balkhi Hospital is a big hospital, with nearly 1900 deliveries each month, but never before had either nurse heard of a baby being delivered in a taxi en route to the hospital. They clung to aspects of their standard protocol that could be applicable to this situation: one nurse carried an Embrace warmer out to the taxi, having been trained to use the warmer whenever an infant needs to be transported from one place to another.
When they reached the taxi, the nurses worked deftly and in parallel. One nurse took Afsa’s newborn girl, cut the umbilical cord, and wrapped the baby inside the Embrace warmer. The second nurse helped Afsa onto a stretcher and wheeled her inside the hospital.
Afsa soon learned that her baby would be under observation in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, while she recovered from hypothermia. When Afsa first saw her daughter, the baby was wrapped in the Embrace warmer, where she would stay for three days until she began to gain weight and could maintain a steady temperature. When Afsa and Rahul ultimately returned home, they carried with them not only their daughter but also an unforgettable story of the unique circumstances that surrounded her birth.