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The woman beside me crossed herself. Then the pilot’s voice came back on. It was a medical emergency, he said; a pregnant passenger went into early labor and had just had a baby. I sensed, around me, a collective hush of relief and wonder. A baby delivered on the plane! We landed in Dakar. It was 2 a.m. Medical personnel in orange vests hurried in, a man carrying a black box, a lanky woman dragging an IV stand, their eyes heavy with sleep. I wondered what the baby would need, and if they had what the baby would need.

Soon, the lanky woman left, cradling a bundle wrapped in cloth. The baby. I strained to see better, hoped I would hear it cry. Then the new mother emerged, a young woman with a tube dangling from her arm, and behind her came the other medical worker, trying to support her. But she didn’t need him. She strode past, straight and steady, so quick that I caught only a glimpse of her face. She looked stunned and frustrated. It seemed even more of a wonder to me, not only that she had just had a baby in midair but that there she was on her feet, normal and capable.

The pilot came out of his cabin. A tall man with an easy air, he told us it was a baby boy, and both mother and baby were fine. His American humor emerged. “Been flying a long time and this is a first for me!”  —– Read More New York Times OP-ED

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