Thursday, November 1 2012
THIS is a tale of two babies.
One born in a New York hospital while Hurricane Sandy was savaging that US state and the other born several hundred miles away in Avocat, South Trinidad also at the same time the monster storm was churning a deadly path along the US eastern seaboard.
Happy mothers Julia Alemany and Patricia Baboolal yesterday related their stories to New York Daily News and Newsday, respectively. Both were tales of the miracle of birth during harsh and calamitous times.
Alemany’s road to motherhood on Monday included an epidural (an injection into the small of the back using a curved, hollow needle to relieve pain associated with labour) by flashlight, an anxious escape down eight flights of stairs and a harrowing trip in an ambulance which was struck by a tree branch as Hurricane Sandy slammed into New York.
Alemany, 34, a researcher from Greenpoint in Brooklyn and her husband Doron Markus, 41, were staying at an apartment near NYU Langone Medical Centre ahead of her due date on Saturday, but when contractions began at 6 pm on Monday — while Sandy bore down on the city — she could not have prepared for what would happen next.
A doctor at NYU’s eighth floor maternity ward initially said her contractions were too far apart and tried to send her home, but Alemany refused to budge. “Are you kidding me?” she recalled saying. “Do you see what’s going on outside?” The doctor agreed to admit her.
Then at 9 pm, the hospital went dark...and things got worse.
“Suddenly, I heard a lot of commotion outside and the word ‘Fire!’” Alemany told The Daily News. “There was smoke at the end of the corridor, everyone was running.” Contractions were ripping through her body. “I shouted out, ‘I can’t run!’,” she said.
Hospital administrators discovered that their backup generators were submerged in water in the basement and the building was no longer safe. She was told she would have to evacuate but begged for pain relief. The epidural was administered by a doctor in the dark with the aid of a flashlight.
She was still in pain as three burly security guards put her on a sled and hustled her down eight flights of stairs, flashlights leading their way. Alemany was among 215 patients who were evacuated. Ten were expectant moms who were hauled from NYU but she was one of only two who were in active labour.
As she and her husband were loaded into an ambulance she heard a question from her driver that was the last thing she wanted to hear. “Do you know how to get to Mt Sinai (health centre)?”
The driver of the ambulance was a FEMA employee from California who had just arrived to help during the storm.
The nurse was able to instruct the driver, but the ambulance still had to navigate storm-ravaged streets as the rain and wind pounded the city and the ambulance. Maddeningly, cops diverted the ambulance several times as it made its way north. A tree branch even fell on the vehicle.
“I hope you don’t have this baby in the ambulance!” Alemany recalled the nurse telling her.
At midnight, Alemany, originally from Barcelona, arrived at the hospital. Her obstetrician Dr John Wirth, was able to wrangle a taxi and race to Mt Sinai in time. Forty minutes after Alemany arrived at Mt Sinai, little Micah Alemany-Markus finally appeared at 12.48 am on Tuesday, weighing 7 pounds, 15 ounces.
“I was just so happy when I saw him and he was safe,” said Alemany of her day-old son. “I never thought his birth would be anything like this. It was the most intense experience of my life.”
Back in Trinidad, on Monday evening, while Sandy pounded the eastern seaboard in the US, a baby boy was delivered by his father at their home. The baby was named Storm Subhan by his father Bobby.
Baby Storm entered this world at 5 pm on Monday. His mother Patricia Baboolal, 30, was at home while husband Bobby had gone to visit his mother Zorida Subhan at Siparia Road Junction.
Doctors had told Patricia she was due to give birth between November 7 and 21. Family friend Charran Doodnath had left to purchase a club soda for Patricia.
Patricia said that when Charran returned, he heard her screams as she shouted that her water bag had burst and the baby was soon coming. A call was placed to husband Bobby.
“When I got the news I just jumped in the car and drove like mad to our home. When I reached, she was in plenty pain and told me to call an ambulance. I couldn’t even remember the number to call,” Bobby said.
Patricia said that when a call was made for an ambulance, the operator said it would take an hour to reach the house. “As the baby was already coming out, the female operator asked my husband if the face was facing up and told him to place his hand under our son’s head. Ten minutes later, our son was born,” Patricia said.
Baby Storm was born at 5.25 pm and weighed 2.9 kilos. A happy father Bobby related how he cleared the baby’s nose and mouth and was then instructed on how to cut the umbilical cord. A sterilised black shoestring was used to tie the baby’s umbilical cord after it was cut.
“My son was born just as Hurricane Sandy was lashing New York. So I thought it appropriate to name him Storm. We will get a good Muslim name for him later, but for now Storm will do,” a proud Bobby told Newsday.
Storm is Bobby’s first son as the father has a teenage daughter. His wife Patricia has three other children, from a previous relationship.