When Crystal Gail Amerson felt a pounding pain in her stomach on an early Sunday morning in March, she initially blamed the Chinese food she had the night before. Yet, the 29-year-old was about to have the surprise of her life.
“I had eaten General Tso’s chicken the night before, and although there was nothing whatsoever wrong with the food, at that point food poisoning was my only guess on what could possibly be going on,” Amerson, of Pensacola, Florida, tells PEOPLE. On the morning of March 25, she found herself running to and from the bathroom due to the ever-worsening cramps. “The pain intensified quickly, and I went from guessing food poisoning was the culprit to being concerned that it was something much worse.”
As she struggled to figure out what was happening to her body, Amerson asked her fiance, Brian Westerfield, to call paramedics. A short time after EMT’s placed her into the ambulance, Amerson— who welcomed her first child, Wyatt, just 18 months ago — says she made the stunning realization that her pain wasn’t from cramps, but was from contractions.
“The pain came in waves and were excruciating. But as the seconds ticked by and the pain was more intense and more frequent, the EMT attending me and myself pieced together what was happening,” Amerson, who works at a retirement home for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, recalls. “It was scary. I was sure I was dying, it was literally the most terrifying and painful ride of my life.”
Within minutes of finding out she was pregnant, Amerson gave birth to Oliver James Westerfield, who weighed 5.27 lbs., just before 7 a.m. as her ambulance was en route to the hospital.
“They put him in my arms to hold until we reached the hospital,” Amerson says, adding that doctors estimate she had been 37 weeks pregnant. “I couldn’t come up with a coherent thought, just that I had to do what I had to do to not be in the pain I was in.”
Looking back on the last eight months, Amerson says there may have been some signs she was carrying, but because of her busy schedule and raising her toddler, she didn’t notice many of them.
“I only gained about ten or fifteen pounds maybe throughout what we now know was my pregnancy. No morning sickness, no huge round belly,” she explains. “I worked full time, chased after my 18-month-old son all night. I had no time to stop and realize that I was pregnant, especially since I didn’t experience typical symptoms.”
She adds: “I’d say I could have looked into having constant back pain as a symptom but my back always hurt so I thought nothing of it.”
Because the family doesn’t have a car that will fit two baby seats, they recently set up a GoFundMe page to raise money to help them purchase an appropriate car to transport Wyatt and Oliver together. It has since raised almost $800 of its $5,000 goal.
With baby Oliver doing well, Amerson says she, too, has adjusted over the last week since the life-changing news.
“He’s making progress, sleeping well, eating well, smiling when he decides to stay awake long enough to interact with friends and family,” she says. “Mommy and daddy are doing okay, too, but we’re definitely due for a home cooked meal and a good night’s sleep!”
This article originally appeared on PEOPLE.