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    Baby born on bus is surprise to mother

    The mother, a French tourist, says she had no idea she was pregnant. Then her healthy daughter arrived.

    By Times staff and wire reports

    © St. Petersburg Times,
    published August 8, 2001

    French tourist Sophie Proust insists that she had no idea she was pregnant until she gave birth in the restroom of a tour bus on the Sunshine Skyway.

    Proust, vacationing in Florida, gave birth to a 5-pound, 9-ounce baby girl Sunday when her tour bus stopped on the approach to the Skyway to let passengers take pictures.

    Her daughter's arrival was a complete shock, said Proust, 28, who comes from a small town outside Paris.

    "I didn't know I was pregnant," Proust told the Bradenton Herald. "I had stomach pains and thought I had to go to the restroom."

    Doctors at Manatee Memorial Hospital asked Proust how her pregnancy could have gone unnoticed. Proust told them that she had not skipped her monthly menstrual cycle, said Dr. Chandra Williams, an obstetrician who cared for Proust.

    While such pregnancies are exceedingly rare, they do happen, Williams said. The doctor added that the baby appeared to be doing fine.

    "The first days I was in America, there was no problem," Proust said. "I was playing and just going along, but on Sunday" -- her birthday -- "I didn't feel well since the morning."

    Proust was traveling with her brother Florian. They spent Saturday at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World. The pains began early Sunday, day four of their vacation, as they boarded an ATI-Rand tour bus for a trip to Tampa that would continue on to the Everglades and Key West.

    The bus pulled over at a rest stop on the south side of the Skyway so the tourists could take photographs. But Proust said she felt too sick to notice what was going on. She went to the restroom. Now in heavy labor, she realized she was in the process of giving birth. She called for help, and the bus driver responded.

    A 911 dispatcher relayed instructions to a bus passenger at a rest-stop pay phone, who passed along the information to another passenger, who told the bus driver what to do, said Lisa Kalmbach of the Manatee Emergency Communications Center.

    By the time an ambulance arrived, baby Proust had been born.

    Proust and the newborn were taken to Manatee Memorial, where they remained Tuesday.

    The tour bus and Proust's brother, who had to return to France, went on their way.

    Despite the surprise birth, Proust is very happy with her daughter, whom she named Karen after Manatee Memorial nurse Karen Kolega.

    While her name is settled, Karen Proust's citizenship is in the hands of bureaucrats. Manatee Memorial is working with Gov. Jeb Bush's office to make arrangements through the French consulate in Miami to register the baby as a French citizen when she returns home with her mother.

    "When we were in the bus on the day she was born, she was smiling, smiling, smiling," Proust said. "I feel good. I've got high blood pressure, but I feel good."

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    From the Times state desk