Backseat birth and a forest fire: The wildest birth story you’ve ever heard

Backseat birth and a forest fire: The wildest birth story you’ve ever heard

05 July 2015

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USA– California mom Amber Pangborn’s birth plan likely didn’t involve delivering her baby in the middle of a national forest. That’s what happened, though, when she took a turn down a back country road and ended up stranded in the middle of nowhere.

The 35-year-old was already feeling contractions on Wednesday evening when she decided to take what she thought was a shortcut to her parents’ house. Driving down the unfamiliar road, it wasn’t too long before she realized she was lost. That’s when her car ran out of gas.

With no way out and no cell phone service, Amber labored on her own through the night, delivering her baby girl, Marissa, on the side of French Camp Road in northern California’s Plumas National Forest. Unbelievably, that was just the beginning of what turned into a harrowing 3-day ordeal.

“I laid out a sleeping back in the backseat, lied down, gripped the handle above the back window and gave birth to my daughter,” she says, adding. “I thought we were going to die. And there was no cell service, there was no … there was nothing.”

When she finally ventured outside of the car with her newborn, Amber says she was swarmed by bugs – including bees, which stung her. Terrified, she returned to the vehicle, where she thankfully at least had some apples and soda. Not much of a post-birth meal, but it was better than nothing.

By Saturday, Amber was desperate.

“I was just there at the end, thinking, ‘Oh my God.’” Amber recalls. “I wasn’t sure if we were going to actually get out of there.”

That’s when she came up with a plan.

Recalling her father’s childhood instructions to build a fire in an emergency, Amber used a lighter and an aerosol can to do just that. The small SOS fire soon turned into a back country brush blaze, though.

“The first just went ‘woosh,’ and shot up the mountainside,” Amber says. “I was looking at Marissa and I told her ‘honey, I think mommy just started a forest fire.’”

It seemed to work, because CALFIRE soon dispatched a helicopter to put the fire out. When the firefighters arrived, they spotted Amber’s car at the side of the road, and soon discovered the mom and new baby. Both were quickly transported to a nearby hospital and are now doing well.

“I was so relieved,” says Amber’s father – and Marissa’s grandfather – upon learning that both were okay. “I felt my prayers had been answered. I truly believe I witnessed a modern-day miracle. I know babies are born every day and to hear such a heroic story, being all by herself for three days, it was almost unbelievable.”

Giving birth in the woods? Being swarmed by bees? Setting a forest fire? Unbelievable seems like an understatement! I’m glad to hear that mom and baby both survived remarkably unscathed.

It’s not yet known whether Amber will face charges for setting the quarter acre blaze.

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