PICO BLVD — Amid the tumbling of the dryers and the water spraying from the washers were the screams of a woman in labor, the cry of a newborn baby and then the sigh of relief from the Laundromat employee who was there for the delivery.
It was all over before the spin cycle even began.
The bathroom at Clean People Coinless Laundry turned into a makeshift baby delivery room on Tuesday afternoon when Santa Monica resident Nancy Jimenez went into labor shortly after leaving a local hospital to drop off paperwork, giving birth to a healthy boy where her cousin, Rosalva Jimenez, works in the fluff and fold section.
As is the case nearly every day, Nancy Jimenez was visiting the laundromat after finishing a shift at Trader Joe’s, passing the time before she would have to pick up her daughter from school later in the afternoon. Except this time she wasn’t feeling well, having a hard time breathing and complaining about a backache.
“I said ‘Nancy you look bad today you need to go to the hospital,’” Rosalva Jimenez said.
She did go to the hospital momentarily, leaving for 20 minutes to drop off paperwork for her upcoming delivery, given a ride to the Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital by another customer at the laundromat.
Still feeling ill upon her return, a barely mobile Nancy Jimenez made her way into the bathroom where screams erupted just moments later.
“I tried to help her walk out [of the bathroom] but she said ‘I can’t walk out,’” Rosalva Jimenez said. “I said no, Nancy, don’t do that to me. You have to walk.
“She said ‘I can’t, I can feel the baby’s head.’”
In a span of about 10 minutes, Rosalva Jimenez went into autopilot, calling 911, grabbing towels and coaching her cousin through delivery. Around 1:30 p.m., the baby was born.
“I didn’t have the chance to have feelings,” Rosalva Jimenez said. “I was there and I knew I had to do my best.”
Rosalva Jimenez reports that her cousin and nephew are both doing well.
Stan Fox, whose family owns Clean People as well as other laundromats in Santa Monica, said he was sitting in his office, occasionally watching the surveillance camera when he saw Nancy Jimenez walk into the bathroom, hearing screams almost immediately after and seeing his employee burst in asking for towels and the phone to call 911.
“She was very cool under pressure,” Fox, who opened Clean People about two years ago, said. “I’m glad I wasn’t there alone.”
In his 31 years working in the laundromat business, Fox said the baby delivery was probably the strangest incident.
“I’m sure this is it,” he said. “I have had people take off all their clothes to do their laundry at other locations.”