Flooded In, and In Labor

Cindy Banker's mother went into labor with her during a bad snowstorm in Alaska 29 years ago. Who knew what kind of natural disaster would happen to Cindy herself?

By Christopher W. Davis from Reader's Digest | April 2011

“We have a lady in labor here,” Hasan told him. “We need to get to Baptist Hospital.”

“You can’t get out,” the officer said, confirming that the area was flooded on all sides. But he spoke with his lieutenant, who lived nearby and whose wife was a home-care nurse. “He told me to escort you to his house,” Hasan said to James and Cindy. They agreed; it was the best they could do. Even a helicopter couldn’t go anywhere in this weather.

The officer turned on his car’s flashing lights and siren and accompanied the Bankers back into their neighborhood. In the backseat, Cindy called her mother in Lake Charles. “We’re in labor,” she said.

“Wonderful!” Nila Halloran said. “You’re on your way to the hospital?”

“No,” Cindy said, “we can’t get there.” And with that, she broke down crying. James, seated in front, leaned over to comfort her and hold her hand. Hasan could see the concern in James’s eyes: It was rare for Cindy to lose her cool like that.

The police car led them to the home of Lt. John Batty, whose wife, Cassie, was waiting at the front door. She took Cindy in a big hug. “There, there, honey, everything’s going to be all right. Don’t worry. People have been having babies at home for a thousand years. If pioneers could do it, we can.”

Hasan, meanwhile, was on his BlackBerry, arranging a blanket alert to the neighborhood association’s e-mail list: “We have a woman in labor. No way to hospital. Anyone with knowledge to help, call this number.”

The Bankers had no way to know it, but the doctor they needed was only a couple of miles away — unfortunately, on the other side of the creek. Looking downhill from his back porch, DeRoche watched a wooden fence disappear underwater and a mobile home, tipped on its side, float by. The deluge was breathtaking. DeRoche’s cell phone startled him when it rang. It was his softball buddy Chris Mills, who lived just across the creek.

“What are you doing?” Mills asked.

“Ha!” DeRoche laughed. “What do you think we’re doing? We’re socked in. What’s it like over there?”

“We’ve got a woman in labor here,” Mills said. “They can’t get out to the hospital. Here’s a number to call.” DeRoche dialed and introduced himself to Hasan. “I’m an ob-gyn over on Temple. We’re flooded in, but I’ll try to make my way over.” He had no supplies, though. What if the baby got stuck? If it was a full-term breech? If he had to do a C-section with no lidocaine to numb the area, sutures to close it up, or clamps for hemorrhages? Do I let the baby die? he asked himself.

Paula leaped into action. She organized their three kids to scour the neighborhood. They knocked on the doors of two dentists, a lung specialist, and a physical therapist. “Our dad is delivering a baby! Do you have any medical supplies?” Paula paid a visit to her next-door neighbor Amy Hubbuch, a neonatal nurse and childbirth educator. Hubbuch rummaged through her stuff and found gloves and gowns. “Do you think Michael would like me to come along and help?” she asked. “I’m sure he would,” Paula replied.

“So, are you up for a little adventure?” DeRoche asked Hubbuch when she arrived at his house. Doctor and nurse laughed, but it was nervous laughter. They both knew enough about childbirth to understand all the things that could go wrong.

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