Anne Sofie Hansson (24) and Ole Christian Sanchez Ahlbom (23) were completely unprepared for the little wonder that befell them on board the Kiel ferry.
“Have I done something wrong?” is the first thing Ole thinks.
He feels a growing uneasiness when a uniformed man suddenly enters the spa department, where he is relaxing with friends, and asks:
“Does anyone here know Anne Sofie?”
Anne Sofie is his partner.
He throws on his clothes and rushes with the uniformed man back towards the cabin.
He fears the worst when the first thing he sees is a wheelchair in the hallway.
And it doesn’t get any better when he sees all the blood inside the cabin.
Anne Sofie Hansson
didn’t feel quite right
that Saturday morning.
On Thursday, she had felt ill and went home early from her job as a healthcare worker. She was lethargic, nauseous and had a stomach ache. She had also had her period. They therefore considered canceling the Kiel trip.
But when the form improved somewhat on Friday, they still chose to travel. After all, they had been looking forward to the annual trip with friends with the family of a mutual friend. This year it was also the thirtieth birthday of someone in the traveling party.
Anne Sofie takes Paracet before they meet the others for dinner on the boat, followed by a musical show and casino on Friday night.
At the casino, Anne Sofie wiggles her foot, which needs to be iced. She only goes to bed at four or five in the morning. Ole remains at the disco, before taking two guys to the cabin to chat a bit.
When Anne Sofie wakes up, she is in quite a bit of pain.
Ole asks if he should bring her some food or painkillers from breakfast, but she doesn’t want any.
When Ole returns, they rest for another hour. They are both tired after yesterday’s celebration.
Anne Sofie takes a hot shower, which relieves the pain somewhat.
Several of the friends are going to the spa, and Ole also books a place for the two of them in the morning. It might help with form, he thinks.
But Anne Sofie can’t take it.
– Go and enjoy yourself at the spa, there is nothing you can do here to make me feel better, she says.
Stomach problems are something she has struggled with for many years, so neither Ole nor she is very worried. Besides, there had been a lot of food and drink the night before.
While Ole sits in the jacuzzi and sauna, he is unaware that his partner’s pain is escalating.
Anne Sofie calls reception to ask if they have anything stronger than Paracetamol.
Øivind Røstad (56) is a medic on Color Fantasy, and the person who follows up the sick and injured on board.
Just before 3 p.m., he goes to the cabin to check on Anne Sofie.
Her blood pressure is measured and her abdomen is examined.
– Yes, it is a bit hard, she hears from Røstad.
He asks Anne Sofie several direct questions. The pain increases in strength every minute, he registers.
There is some blood on one of the towels she has used after the shower, so Røstad gets permission from Anne Sofie to examine her underneath.
– I know a head, he says.
It is as if the whole world stops for Anne Sofie.
– That is why you are in pain. You are in labor.
– I’m not ready for that, says Anne Sofie and begins to sob.
– I understand that it will come on suddenly, but we can manage this, replies Røstad.
– You will get a lot of help afterwards, and you will get help now. We will fix this.
He calls Stian Bøhlerengen (37), who is chief mate and medical officer on board, and asks him to collect the birth bag.
The ship is in German waters, about an hour from Kiel, and they contact “Bremen Rescue” to have a doctor flown in by helicopter.
But inside the cabin, Røstad realizes that they don’t have time to wait. The child must go out now.
He has previously taken in five or six children while working in the ambulance service. The chief mate only has experience from the birth of his own two children.
He fetches towels and calls “Radio Medico”, which assists shipping in medical cases, where they can speak to a doctor at Haukeland University Hospital. Together they get ready to receive the child, with the doctor in charge.
Anne Sofie’s contractions are now close.
– When you feel that you really have to poo, then you push as hard as you can, she hears calmly from Røstad.
After several pressures, she knows that it must soon be over, but then she feels the child slip up a little again.
– Just a little more now! A couple more times now, and you’re done, he says.
Anne Sofie pushes as hard as she can while holding his hand.
As the child comes out, Røstad is hit by a strong stream of urine from the newborn.
Anne Sofie breathes
relieved when she hears
the first baby cry.
The time is now 15.45.
Just seconds later, Ole arrives at the cabin. The chief mate will not let him in the door at first, as they do not yet know that he is the father of the child.
Anne Sofie hears him in the hallway and shouts “Ole – come!”.
Ole runs in and squeezes Anne Sofie’s hand.
He sees the blood between her thighs, but is relieved that she is active and alive.
He does not register the small child in Røstad’s arms.
– Congratulations, it was a boy, he hears Røstad say.
– He is a healthy little boy, says Røstad again.
– What? Ole doesn’t understand anything.
Whose baby is that? Where does it come from, he thinks.
– Oh my god, you’ve had a child! shouts the friend, who has accompanied Ole from the spa department to the cabin.
It is only then that it begins to sink in for Ole – he has become a father. He knows laughter and tears of joy.
The helicopter with a doctor is now on its way to transport Anne Sofie and the child to the nearest hospital in Kiel for a check-up.
She is put on a stretcher, and while they wheel her through the long corridors, Ole begins to rattle off boys’ names. Perhaps Øivind, after the man who welcomed the child? No, it must work in Spanish too. As they walk through the water park and out onto the deck, he is certain:
– Leo! His name is Leo.
Finish talking, he says.
It is a name that Anne Sofie has long had on her list of future baby names.
Out on deck wearing only shorts and a singlet, Ole is still wet from the hot tub.
He is first told that he cannot go with the helicopter to Kiel, but then they change their minds after a brief check-up with Mother.
He rushes down to the cabin to take his bank card, passport and mobile phone.
– We have a bad time. The helicopter leaves in one minute, he suddenly gets a message from the chief mate.
Together they run back up, and Ole just reaches the helicopter.
VG meets Anne Sofie and Ole three days later at the University Hospital of Schleswig-Holstein in Kiel.
Little Leo is in an incubator because he has a slightly reduced body temperature, but otherwise everything is fine, they say.
He weighs almost 2.7 kilograms and the doctors estimate that he was born after approximately 40 weeks, i.e. at term.
– They have been so kind to us here, even though not everyone speaks English, says Anne Sofie.
The couple had almost nothing with them when they arrived at the hospital, so staff have given them clothes.
– One of the nurses also came back to work yesterday, when she actually had time off, to give us a child seat that we can transport Leo in when we leave, says Ole.
Anne Sofie’s colleagues have also started a fundraising campaign to give the roommates necessary baby equipment, they say.
The two still haven’t fully realized that they have become parents.
– I’ve heard stories about people who didn’t know they were pregnant. Then I thought, oh my God, they must know that somehow, says Anne Sofie.
VG has been allowed to contact both her GP and the midwife at the health center where she belongs, both of whom can confirm that Anne Sofie has not had any pregnancy follow-up with them.
The mother, sister and one of her closest colleagues say the same – they saw no signs of pregnancy.
– I have felt that it is bubbling, but then I have thought that there has been air in the bowels, she says.
She is lactose intolerant and has struggled with bloating and stomach pain almost all her life.
Anne Sofie has not noticed anything very physical with her stomach either.
– I’ve been wearing the usual jeans the whole time.
I probably have a lot of room in my pelvis, and Leo has probably been lying quite far back against my back, she explains.
– My periods have also been irregular, as I have been on birth control pills and have chosen to “skip” periods of menstruation.
Ole has also not noticed any symptoms in Anne Sofie, other than that she has had a slightly hard stomach.
– When I look back on it, I see how strong she is. She has worked right up until the due date and has not complained, he says proudly.
It is very unusual for women not to be aware of their own pregnancy so far into pregnancy, explains Katariina Laine, obstetrician and senior researcher at the National Center for Women’s Health Research.
– However, no studies have been done on this in Norway, so we do not know how often it happens, she says.
She says that a study was carried out in Germany from the period 1995-1996, where 65 women were identified who did not discover their pregnancy until the 20th week of pregnancy. According to the study, this amounts to one in 400-600 births.
But those who go all the way to term are even more rare.
– Only 24 of the women in the study were first diagnosed with pregnancy when labor was in progress, explains Laine.
The study could not identify any common features of these 65 women.
VG has also met Color Line’s two birth assistants, who welcomed little Leo.
Both are impressed by Anne Sofie’s efforts.
– She was very good. Surprisingly good, I think, after receiving that message, says Røstad.
– Are you considering maternity cruises, now that so many maternity services are being closed down?
– There probably won’t be an offer right away, they say, laughing.
The family of three traveled back again on the Kiel ferry after leaving the hospital earlier this week. This time they were upgraded to a suite.
Leo will also receive lifetime honorary membership in Color Line, according to Chief Mate Bøhlerengen.
– He will probably get “born at sea” in his passport, he says.
The crew is very much looking forward to meeting the little family again, who have now started family life at home in Rælingen. And they are happy to arrange baptisms on the ship, if the parents wish.
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Published: 11.03.23 at 07:22