Or an earthquake. Or a flood. How about a tornado?
Abby Olefson from Fort Lee, NJ went into labor last Monday during Hurricane Sandy. There was no electricity in her home at the time. 911 calls weren’t getting through. And so Abby delivered her baby in her bathtub by candlelight.
SHE DELIVERED HER BABY IN HER BATHTUB. BY CANDLELIGHT. IN A HURRICANE.
I was pretty well prepared for childbirth. Well…as well as anyone with Google and a very active imagination is ever prepared. I knew, for instance, that during transition the sustained pain level would render me capable of killing anyone withing arm’s reach, while at the same time begging for a litany of legal and illegal drugs, all while absolutely convinced that I was about to die the death of a thousand drawn-and-quartered martyrs. I knew that, ultimately, I would get through the experience via my own womanly strength, BUT ALSO with the knowledge and support of the trained birthing professionals in the room with me, be they obstetricians and nurses or midwives and doulas.
I planned for there to be some relaxing, meditative soundscape. A George Winston CD, perhaps. I would have some scented candles burning. Lavender for calm, grapefruit for energy.
Abby Olefson? Her birthing soundscape was most likely a 90 mile per hour wind threatening to rip the siding off her house and throw shrubbery through the windows. Her candles were for real, not for frangipani.
I’d like you to stand up right now and give a round of applause for Abby Olefson. I’m serious. Right now. Also, feel free to tip your hat, salute, and muster your damn Rainbow Sideboys.
Seven years ago during Hurricane Katrina, Waldrica Nathan gave birth to a baby boy while trapped in a hot attic as flood waters rose to the ceilings below. The baby’s father and grandparents used a box cutter to cut the cord and a shoe lace to tie it.
Me? Well, one time while waiting out labor, I couldn’t get the remote to work for the hospital in-room television.
And then there’s Kentucky mother Angela Praiswater who delivered her son Aeden in an evacuated hospital with windows open and sirens going off around her as a tornado headed toward them.
How about Annaliza Tumanda who last December swam through typhoon flood waters in the Philippines with her husband and three children to reach the safety a nearby house . She later gave birth to a baby girl on the roof of a medical center that was otherwise under water.
And then, of course, there is the story of Sophia Pedro who was forced out of her home in Mozambique after massive flooding of the Limpopo River. In a tree for three days with her two-year-old son, Pedro gave birth to her daughter Rosita on a tree branch above the flood waters, assisted by a midwife who was also in the tree.
I don’t mean to diminish the challenges of anyone’s birth experience. Even with pain meds and a gentle hand when it comes to your perineum, it’s never a spa experience. And no birthing mama should have to be as courageous as these women were forced to be.
But on the scale of inspirational, hope-filled stories, these women are off the charts amazing.
Hurricane Sandy was a bad lady. Real women are tougher.