When Samantha Cameron was packing for her Cornish summer hols just a few weeks ago, she was probably thinking more comfy shoes and sun cream than nursing nighties, paper knickers and a going-home outfit. We are told that Mrs C woke up in the midst of her West Country break experiencing pains, and went to hospital just to be checked out, never expecting to end up delivering her fourth child. But it seems there's no putting the breaks on an eager-to-arrive bubba...
Take the woman who gave birth in the Wakefield branch of Asda at the beginning of the year – we doubt she expected a new son with her loaf and pint of semi skimmed, but that's just what she got when she went into labour unexpectedly in the store's customer loos. Her healthy baby boy was delivered by supermarket staff in the in-store café.
Mum of two Heidi nearly gave her baby-shower guests a bit more than a pastel cup-cake and an arty display of bunting to coo over when she into labour with her first child two weeks early - and on the morning of her big bash:
'I was expecting a houseful of guests, and an excruciating afternoon of sharing birth stories, stretch marks and piles – not legs in stirrups, stitches and a new baby!' she says, 'I tried to make sure everyone knew why I'd had to cancel but one friend didn't get the message in time and left a zillion panicked voicemails on my phone wondering why I wasn't answering the front door! I so thanked my newborn son for sparing me the horror of the party though!'
But unexpected arrivals are not always plain sailing. Allie was 25 pregnant and at work, idly leafing through baby catalogues, when baby Reece appeared 15 weeks early.
'It was my second pregnancy, and all was going well,' she recalls, 'I was at work as normal, but decided to leave early to go shopping for a pushchair, when suddenly I had regular, five minutes apart pains. I called my husband and took me to the hospital.'
Allie was convinced she was in labour, but the midwife disagreed.
'But then a doctor examined me and said I was 5cm dilated. Reece was born shortly afterwards weighing just 1lb 13oz. He was rushed off to intensive care. The first time I saw him he was on a ventilator, covered in wires. I didn't leave his side all night, not even to sleep. Two days passed with little improvement, then one lunchtime a midwife said he'd taken a turn for the worst. He'd had brain and lung haemorrhages.'
Reece was transferred to a specialist hospital in Liverpool.
'We were told his chances of survival would improve if he made it through the hour,' Allie recalls, 'Then the night. Then the next day. Every time they tried to take him off the ventilator he failed to breathe on his own, and I was devastated. He then started to have 'episodes' where he would stop breathing. We got quite blasé over this, as a little nudge to the leg would usually remind him to start again, but it got worse and his heart would threaten to stop as well.'
After dozens of tests, lumbar punctures and anti-epilepsy drugs, the cause of Reece's breathing problems was discovered - the haemorrhage had caused a blockage, and he had developed hydrocephalus.
'He was transferred to Alder Hey where he had a shunt fitted,' Allie says, 'And from there he has never looked back. He celebrated his 100-day birthday with a cake at the hospital he was born in, and eventually came home after four months, just a couple of weeks after his original due date. Yes, he has problems; cerebral palsy, mobility difficulties - but to me he is just my Reece, my fifteen week early, unexpected baby.'
Did your baby arrive unexpectedly? Where you on holiday? Out shopping? At a party? Was it a magical surprise like Sam-Cam's, or, like Allie's, fought with drama and worry?