Amber Nicole started vlogging on her YouTube channel because the military wife and mother of two wanted to document her journey through her third and final pregnancy. What she didn’t realize at the time, though, was that during the birth she would capture something incredibly rare on camera. In fact, an incredible one-in-80,000 occurrence has now been recorded for the world to see.
Before that momentous event happened, however, Amber and her husband Kyle had had a long and charming history together. The childhood sweethearts had first got together at 16, married four years later and started a family soon after that. Kyle’s work in the Air Force, moreover, took the couple from Florida to Mississippi with their first child and then over to Germany, where they had their second.
At around the time Amber and Kyle were making plans for a new addition to their family, though, they found out they would be upping sticks again. This time Kyle was needed back at a duty station in Florida, just an hour away from where they grew up. And Amber, a stay-at-home mom, could not have been more excited to move closer to the support network of her family.
Then, despite originally wanting to wait until July, when the family were settled back into American life, Amber announced on her April 2, 2012 vlog that she was pregnant. Sharing how she broke the news to her husband, Amber revealed that they had gone to a local steakhouse. As Kyle reeled off all the celebrations they had held there, then, she added a third child to the list.
“According to Baby Center I am due around December 3,” the part-time doula and amateur photographer added on her vlog. “This is really cute. Since it will be our last baby it’ll be like our little Christmas surprise. And we’re not going to find out the sex of this baby so it really will be a surprise.”
A month after the vlog announcement of her pregnancy, however, Amber ran into problems. Specifically, she started bleeding every day – and, worried about a miscarriage, she went to the hospital. But a scan revealed that everything was fine and that the baby had a strong and healthy heartbeat. As a result, Amber relaxed into her third pregnancy.
And while Amber first showed signs of labor on December 20, with this being her third child she knew that nothing would happen for a while. So she took her son to his end-of-the-year Christmas party and went about her day more or less as normal. With the contractions growing more intense the next morning, however, Amber called the midwife to prepare for her planned birth at home.
As the time neared for Amber to deliver her baby, then, Kyle, along with the midwife, prepared the birth pool. Kyle tended to Amber, rubbing her back as she lay in the pool apparently peacefully. And Amber listened to music to keep herself calm and relaxed – a technique she had practiced throughout the entirety of her pregnancy.
In another YouTube vlog, meanwhile, Amber described her third childbirth experience. “I had [music] playing and I closed my eyes and I went away – I was in another world during that whole time in the pool. My happy spot was laying on a beach; that’s what I had pictured the entire time. I was on a beach in Hawaii, there were seagulls flying in the air,” she said.
So relaxed was Amber, in fact, that she even had time to joke in her birth vlog. She had invited her mom to be a part of the birth team, and at one moment, while tending to her daughter, Mom blocks the view of the camera. Amber, still mindful of what’s going on around her, scorns her mother, saying, “You’re in the way of the camera!” and laughs.
At one point during labor, though, Kyle thought that Amber’s membranes had broken, as he saw some discoloration in the pool. But when Amber reached to feel how far along the baby was, she felt a strange sensation. Indeed, what she felt as she tried to touch her baby’s head wasn’t a skull but rather what seemed like a cushion of some sort covering the baby’s head – something she has described as like a “rubber balloon.”
When Amber delivered the baby, however, it was a quick and seemingly painless birth, as her vlog depicts. Amber in fact claimed that on a pain scale of one to ten, she only registered a two. Perhaps, then, the only tears and screams were those of joy as she realized, having remained unaware of her baby’s gender throughout, that she had delivered a baby girl.
“I’ll never forget this moment,” Amber said in her vlog. “[The midwife] asked, ‘What did you have?’ I remember moving the umbilical cord from between the legs. My husband and I looked at each other and I looked at the midwife. The look on her face said, ‘You’re not crazy, you can say it.’ I said, ‘It’s a girl!’ and started bawling.”
Though during the pregnancy she didn’t know for sure, Amber had in fact prepared herself for a third boy. In her vlog she said, “I braced myself for being the mom of three boys. His name was going to be Owen.” But the shock of having the girl she so desperately wanted wasn’t the only surprise in store for Amber.
It’s a moment, moreover, that is captured in the couple’s recording of the home birth. Kyle sits in the water, supporting his visibly emotional wife, while Amber cradles their newborn baby daughter, Riley. The midwife then shines a light into the pool, presumably to cut the umbilical cord. But then something bizarre happens: she reaches into the pool, pulls something out of the water and holds it in the air for a few moments.
“The midwife picked something out of the water,” Amber said on her vlog. “She said, ‘Look what came out with your baby.’ It was the amniotic sac.” The midwife believed that while some of Amber’s membranes or “water” may have broken, the amniotic sac also continued to envelope itself around the baby through to the end. Amber suspected, in fact, that it was the slippery sac that had made the birth so effortless.
In the womb, a baby grows in a bag filled with fluid called the amniotic sac. This is to protect the fetus as it grows inside the uterus. During labor, moreover, the membranes that make up the sac wall will burst – often referred to as the point when a mother’s “water breaks.” But during Amber’s labor the sac apparently remained intact, allowing the baby to be born “en caul.”
When a baby is born en caul, then, the amniotic sac remains undamaged and the baby is born inside the fluid-filled membrane sac. This is apparently what happened during Amber’s delivery, and so it was the amniotic sac that the midwife pulled out of the water. Because of how rarely such births occur, though, some consider them lucky.
Indeed, with just one in 80,000 births being en caul, such deliveries are incredibly rare. And the chance of having such a birth when the baby is delivered vaginally is exceptional. Curiously, though, there are some notable names thought to have been born en caul – including the likes of Charlemagne, Liberace and Sigmund Freud.
Amber’s latest vlog, meanwhile, features the family – including a now almost four-year-old Riley – at a restaurant. And as the waitress delivers their food, she announces that the order for San Antonio, Texas, is ready. Of course, this was a novel way to break the news of the family’s next duty station, and all three kids show their excitement. Now Amber is looking forward to their next adventure, starting in March 2017.