Pregnancy

Hurricane Sandy Home Birth Using Potato Chip Clips Proves The Power Of Mother’s Intuition

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Mothers are amazing creatures.  When we stop devouring books on how to do everything perfectly and listen to our intuition, mothers seem to know exactly what will work for their families.  All the information you need can evolve naturally – from the best way to soothe your child, to the best way to discipline, and even the best way to maintain your own sanity through it all.  But one woman took mother’s intuition to the extreme by giving birth in her bathroom during Hurricane Sandy and knowing exactly what to do.

Abby Wellington of Fort Lee, New Jersey was not planning a home birth for her second child.  She was expecting a labor and delivery experience similar to her first, which began with nine hours of labor at home before being admitted to the hospital.   This time, after an hour of “stomach pains” she instinctively knew things were going to be different.  And she wasn’t even referring to having no power or no running water beyond what was already in the pipes.

Due to the Sandy-imposed curfew, Abby and her husband Stephen Olefson, had to put together their last-minute emergency birth plan relying only on the people in their high-rise apartment building.  Their first stop, the doorman, produced the name and number of a OBGYN living in the building.  Which would have been ideal if they had cell service.  A tenant in the lobby gave them a box of rubber gloves.  Abby, a pediatrician and second-year neonatal fellow, added the most creative touch to their emergency plan when she turned to her husband and said:

“You know those potato chip bag clips? Let’s just find them and keep them out.” So now we have gloves and a potato chip clip to clamp the umbilical cord. And we were thinking – this is totally far-fetched, but at least we have it.

A neighbor with the ability to stay calm in the most insane situations walked her through the entire delivery.

Luckily, my neighbor had her wits about her and guided us through it. I mean, she didn’t really know what to do, but she was a calming presence.  I was telling her what I was feeling, and she was telling me what she was seeing. My body knew what to do next, and we just kept responding to it.

Her husband Stephen didn’t have time to lose his cool after lighting candles in the apartment, votives leftover from his mother-in-law’s 70th birthday party.  Instead he took his cues from his wife who appeared to have everything under control.

When you’re with someone like my wife, it’s sort of, in them you trust.  She had, maybe, 15 contractions, 10 minutes of pre-labor, and 30 minutes of labor.

And a happy healthy 8-pound baby entered the world just after 10:30 p.m. on Monday.  Fifteen minutes after the birth, the building’s OBGYN arrived with an ambulance and a crew of first responders.

[They arrive] and we’re sitting in the bathroom with two potato chip clamps on each end of the umbilical cord. The baby’s great. Happy, crying, warm.

The medics and the police say, “This is so cool! We never get calls like this, especially on a day like today when we’ve only had bad news.” Everyone [who] was there was joyous and celebrating. It was a very cool moment.

If Abby Wellington can orchestrate her own home birth on a few hours notice during a hurricane using Ikea brand chip clips, I am throwing away all my parenting books and learning to trust myself.  Motherhood is all about listening to what comes from your gut.

(photo: Kati Molin / Shutterstock)