- Associated Press - Sunday, April 16, 2017

ALEXANDRIA, La. (AP) - Keanna Friels walked into McDonald’s on Lee Street on Feb. 14 to get a quick meal on her way home, and left moments later with a Valentine’s Day gift and a story she’ll never forget.

Friels gave birth to her son, Zayden, in the restaurant’s restroom.

In light of the event, restaurant owner Terry Wilburn recently honored Friels and her son Zayden with a $1,000 educational scholarship.

“We started thinking about everything that happened here on Valentine’s Day and I knew I wanted to do something special for the family, so we waited a few weeks for everyone to get settled and for mom and baby to spend some time together. We’re excited to be able to give back to them in this way,” Wilburn said.

Wilburn has been part of the McDonald’s corporation for more than 40 years, but said he’s never experienced anything “quite like this” at one of his locations.



“I got the call on Valentine’s Day about the birth and my first thought was to make sure that the mother and baby were safe,” he said.

Friels admits she was scared during those moments before she gave birth in the McDonald’s bathroom. She had been with her mother and cousin to Rapides Women and Children’s hospital for a final appointment, and was advised by the doctor to return the next morning for her labor.

“They told me I was only dilated to two centimeters at the time, and sent me home to wait things out. So we stopped by here (McDonald’s) on the way home and I went to use the restroom. But it’s like I was stuck after that, I couldn’t stand up from the pain. So I started yelling to my family for help,” she said.

Less than 15 minutes later - and with assistance from her family and a few employees - Friels gave birth to 6-pound, 8-ounce Zayden. Loleta Neal had clocked in to begin her shift as the store manager moments before Zayden decided to make his entrance into the world.

“I got in the bathroom and could see the baby’s head. All we could do at that point was help her (Friels) and be sure the baby was delivered safely,” said Neal. “Luckily the paramedics arrived pretty fast, too, to take them to the hospital.”

Friels has been “overwhelmed” by the community’s response to Zayden’s birth, but she is thankful for the employees’ quick reaction and help when she went into labor.

“It’s not an ideal situation, but you know I’m glad I didn’t have him in the car or something. I’m glad there were people there with me who were trying to make sure he was safe,” she said.

Friels said when friends and family heard of the incident, Zayden earned a few witty nicknames.

“They started calling him Big Mac,” she said. “That’s one that seems to stick.”

___

Information from: Alexandria Daily Town Talk, https://www.thetowntalk.com

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