Flood baby 2016

Every baby has a story of how they came into the world. For Andrea and Daniel, the story of the day their third baby was born has already made headlines across the country. Rewind back to Sunday, April 17. A major thunder storm was hitting the Houston area overnight and rain was coming down in buckets. Andrea was already a few days over her due date by this point so I was on high alert, keeping an eye on my phone for any news of progress. We had already had a few false alarms a couple days ago, but I had a feeling it would be soon.

A baby waits for no one, not even mother nature. Monday morning came and rains were flooding the city. It was continuous weather coverage on the news and all the media outlets were telling people to stay off the road and stay home. Many people tried to get to work that morning only to have to turn around. And as the day went on and news reports came in, we learned that people were losing their lives to these high waters. But a baby waits for no one, not even mother nature. And when I texted Andrea that morning as the rain was pouring down, I said to her, “If there was ever a day for baby to stay put, today would be it.” She responded, “No joke. I was just thinking the same thing.” But we had to be prepared so we talked about how the weather looked where she was and if she felt confident making it to the birth center. We both live about twenty minutes away from it and there wasn’t any flooding in our neighborhoods and we knew that we could easily make it to the highway to higher ground.

At 1:30 that afternoon she told me they would be heading over to her parent’s house, which was closer to the birth center and that the flooding in that area was getting worse. Things had picked up with the storm and our midwife (we both had the same one), told her that she wanted her closer to the center just in case. What they didn’t realize until they got there, was that the road that Cathy lived on was completely flooded and she couldn’t get out her front door. The next message I received from Andrea was close to 3pm and pretty much said, “we’re going to rescue Cathy.” They could only get so close to her road in their truck until they couldn’t go any further. At this point I didn’t know if Andrea was actually in labor or if they were just getting prepared. Fast forward to 5:30pm. I get a call from Daniel. He tells me they are at the birth center and they think they are staying there for the night and that contractions are happening. The rain has pretty much stopped at this point and I know that I can make it there. So I head out the door. When I make it Avenue A where the birth center is, the road I had to turn down was flooded for the next 100 feet. The road next to it and the one next to it….all flooded. I had to make a decision. Do I find a place to park my car and carry my bag of camera gear in knee high deep water or do I go through it with my car. I did what everyone tells you you’re not supposed to do when you can’t see the lines on the road; I drove through it. It was a short stretch, but it felt like forever to get through it. My car made it just fine, I breathed a sigh of relief and made my way into the birth center.

So this is the part of the story that I, of course, didn’t know until I arrived. Two hours earlier, with Cathy trapped at her house, they had to find a way to get her down the road and to their truck. That’s when they saw a neighbor with an inflatable swan, the kind you’d float around on in your pool. They yelled to the neighbor to ask if Cathy could borrow the swan because they needed to get to the birth center. The neighbor yelled to Andrea, “honey, are you in labor?” And Andrea, with a smile on her face said, “Yeah.” Cathy was quickly hoisted into the swan and began her sail down the street to make it the truck where they could get to a different part of the road that wasn’t flooded and over to the birth center. Pictures were posted on Facebook and before this baby was even born there were websites picking up the story of the determined midwife who road on a swan to deliver a baby. And yes, people made the joke…too bad it wasn’t a stork. Over the next few days, many news outlets would pick up this story. From Houston to the UK, even the Today Show. The birth of this child and the midwife that wouldn’t let a flood get in her way was making headlines.

Andrea knew she wanted a water birth, but none of us could have predicted it would be like this. A baby waits for no one, not even mother nature. At 9 that night, Andrea’s water broke and the hard and fast contractions began. At 9:33pm, with the streets flooded outside, Andrea and Daniel welcomed a boy to their family. It was an amazing birth to witness and Andrea was a rock star. It is my experience from all the births that I have photographed and having two babies of my own, that things don’t always go as planned. But what a fantastic story this family will tell their son one day, and we will all remember where we were during the Houston spring flood of 2016.