Hurricane Sandy destroyed cars, homes and reportedly caused 74 tragic fatalities in the tri-state area. But amidst the devastation, families welcomed babies into their lives -- in spite of hospital evacuations, unnavigable roads, and darkness.
When the power went out at NYU's Langone Medical Center on Monday night, Julia Alemany, a 34-year-old from Brooklyn, New York was having contractions. People started running through the hallways. “Suddenly, I hear a lot of commotion outside and the word ‘Fire!’” Alemany told the NY Daily News. Luckily, there was no fire, but Alemany’s road to delivery didn’t get easier.
The hospital was being evacuated.
Doctors gave Alemany an epidural before bringing her out, but the anesthesiologist had to administer it in the dark. "I was holding a cell phone above her while they were putting in the IV and while they were putting in the epidural," Alemany’s husband, Doron Markus told the "Today" show.
Once she was comfortable, Markus said, Alemany was placed on a sled-like stretcher and carried down eight flights of stairs to an ambulance.
Their trip to Mount Sinai Hospital, 60 blocks north, was interrupted by a loud boom -– a tree had fallen on the ambulance. The vehicle proceeded and Alemany gave birth to baby Micah at at 12:48 a.m.
NY Daily News reports that of 215 patients who were evacuated from NYU’s Langone Medical Center, ten were expectant moms and Alemany was one of only two who were in active labor while being transported.
Down the hall from Alemany in the NYU maternity ward was Sally Bertouch, 31, an Australian who has lived in New York for three years. She and her husband James Bertouch were staying at a hotel ten blocks from the hospital, having evacuated their Tribeca home before Sandy. Bertouch, pregnant with her first child, felt the first signs of labor at the hotel at 2:00 on Monday morning, and twelve hours later the couple decided it was time to get to the hospital, and somehow found a taxi in the “horizontal rain”, news.com.au reports.
About six hours after they arrived, the power went out. “There were no monitors, no foetal [sic] monitors, all the doctors had glow sticks around their necks. I had a flashlight. Sal was lying in the bed in the dark and the wind,” the new dad told the Australian newspaper. Then, like they did for Alemany, anesthesiologists administered Bertouch’s epidural by flashlight.
At midnight -– in the middle of her labor -– Bertouch also evacuated.. She arrived at Mt. Sinai hospital at 1:00 am on Tuesday and delivered baby Sophie Deborah at 10:27 that morning. “She really is beautiful. She is super relaxed and she has no idea of all the drama that surrounded her birth,” the new mom told news.com.au.
Across the Hudson, in Hillsborough, NJ, another new mother, Christine Schleppy, of Hillsborough, N.J. wasn’t able to receive an epidural. She wasn’t even able to make it to a hospital. The 34-year-old went into labor five weeks early on Monday, the “Today” show reports. Her husband, David Schleppy, called 911 but because of destruction on the roads Shleppy gave birth to baby Liam at an emergency mobile unit inside of a local church gym at 11:00 pm on Monday, ABC reports. She told “Today’s” Savannah Guthrie that she doesn’t know how she got through it without pain medication, but added that she and the baby are both “doing great.”