Leming learns the ups and downs of pregnancy

Ashley Nadeau

“This is crazy. A woman in Kansas gave birth in a hospital elevator before she could reach the delivery room in time. Yeah, unfortunately the elevator made stops at every floor because someone kept yelling ‘Push,” said Jimmy Fallon on late night With Jimmy Fallon.

“That’s right, a woman gave birth in an elevator. It was weird – when the baby came out, he was just like, (polite nod) ‘Morning.’ (Move to corner of elevator, check watch, whistle)‘This is crazy weather we’re having,” he said.

Although Jimmy Fallon found this scenario to be great material for his opening monologue, it was no laughing matter to Washburn student Crystal Leming.

Friday, Feb. 18 began with what Leming described as labor pains. After class, Leming went to her doctor in Olathe, then returned home. Around 8 p.m. that night she realized her daughter was on her way.

Leming and her husband immediately drove toward Olathe, Kan., but didn’t get far before her labor pains became so intense she began to wonder how much time they had.  

“Oh my gosh I have hours of this left and it already hurts this bad,” Leming thought to herself.

As they made it to Lawrence, she said she felt like she had to push and could feel her baby’s head crowning. Leming made it to a nearby fire station and was loaded on to an ambulance.

Leming made it to the hospital and made it to the elevator when she said they gave her medication to slow down her labor. Once on the elevator, Leming said ‘her head was coming’.

“The EMTs were skeptical but checked, to appease me if nothing else, and sure enough there she was,” said Leming.

Alyssa Lynn Leming was born in the elevator at Lawrence Memorial Hospital.

Leming told The Lawrence Journal-World that when the elevator door opened, she said, “Can somebody please catch her head?”

Although the family shared their story willingly, Leming said she never anticipated the media attention she received in the days that followed.

“It’s crazy that it turned into such a big story,” said Leming. “My father-in-law asked if he could tell the Lawrence Journal-World, we honestly didn’t even know if they’d pick it up.”

The Lawrence Journal-World did in fact pick up the story, for their front page.

“We had no idea it would be such a big deal, we’ve seen her story in the United Kingdom, the Thai/India Press, a foreign exchange student I knew in high school said he saw the story in Hungary,” said Leming. “It’s crazy the number of different places it’s gotten to.”

 Alyssa, nicknamed “Ellie” by family members and the media, may have entered the world quickly, but for Crystal and her husband this journey was long and hard.

Crystal met her future husband in 2005 while recovering from the impact of a devastating fire.

“I needed to recover emotionally and financially, I returned to school in the fall of 2006 and we got married a few weeks later,” said Leming. “We started trying for a baby almost right away, but with no success.”  

The Lemings continued to try to conceive for more than three years while Crystal finished her psychology degree from the University of Kansas.

“We had been to a family doctor, an OB/GYN specialist, and a reproductive endocrinologist at a fertility clinic in Wichita by that time, with no explanation as to why we couldn’t conceive,” said Leming. “We kept getting referred to more complicated, risky, and expensive treatments ranging from $750 – $12,000 a cycle depending on the treatment, but we weren’t getting any answers.”  

The financial obligations these fertility treatments held eventually took their toll on the Lemings, and they were unable to continue treatments. Even with this setback, they did not lose hope of having a baby.

“We heard about a family doctor in Olathe who was having a lot of success with helping couples like us,” said Leming. “Eventually, I decided that I wanted to work with couples dealing with all of the stress, anxiety and depression that comes along with infertility.”

It was at this point Leming decided she wanted to go back to school.

“I decided to apply to the graduate program in clinical psychology at Washburn,” said Leming. “I got admitted, decided to leave my job to pursue this degree, and then found out I was pregnant a few weeks later.”

 Leming said although their story is sensational, she feels it could be a message of hope for other couples struggling with infertility

“I remember many situations that brought me great pain when we were struggling to conceive,” said Leming. “I imagine our story, when reported simply as a sensational birth, elicits those same emotions for many couples who are struggling with infertility themselves,” said Leming. “I sincerely hope that these couples might know our background and hear a message of hope and support in this story as well.”