As Hurricane Florence loomed over southeastern North Carolina, dumping rain for days on end, flood waters rose, and the people of Pender County, NC were surrounded by water. This included Yajaira Guerin, who was 9 months pregnant and due to give birth on October 4.
On Sunday, September 23, Guerin, who had given birth to four other children, felt a familiar pain and knew that, hurricane or not, it was time to give birth to her little girl.
She calmly resigned herself to the fact that she might have to give birth at home, and her husband called highway patrol to see if there was a way for them to get to New Hanover Regional Medical Center, in Wilmington. The roads at that point were impassable but the state trooper he spoke with pointed them toward MED-1, the mobile hospital that NHRMC had arranged to have set up in Burgaw, where it set up operations in the Family Dollar parking lot.
That same night, Dr. Naomi Flock was settling into her temporary home at Pender Memorial Hospital CEO Ruth Glaser’s home. She and a fellow physician had just arrived in Pender, escorted across flooded roads by the National Guard. Dr. Flock had just completed a long shift where she had delivered three babies at NHRMC. She planned to get some rest before heading out to help Pender County residents at MED-1 the next day.
Soon after getting in bed she got a call that a woman in labor had just arrived at MED-1.
“When they told me it was a G-5, a woman who has been pregnant 5 times, I knew that I needed to move quickly. Within 2 minutes I had my scrubs on and within 5 minutes, I had arrived at the mobile hospital,” said Dr. Flock.
When she had received the call, the patient was 2 centimeters dilated. When she arrived, the patient was at 8. Dr. Flock introduced herself to the medical team and the mother and got the patient’s history. It wasn’t long until it was time to push and soon, Atarah Sapphira Guerin entered the world.
They are both healthy, doing well, and the Guerins took baby Atarah home after just a few days at NHRMC.
“I feel truly blessed and I’m grateful for everything. I do send out prayers for all of those who lost their homes. These are really tough times, but to be able to celebrate life and a new beginning, it’s wonderful. It’s beautiful,” Yajaira Guerin said.
Dr. Flock said she will remember Atarah’s birth for the rest of her career, and probably for the rest of her life.
“Atarah will always have a great birth story,” Sean Guerin, Atarah’s father, jokes. “We can tell her she was born in a Family Dollar parking lot!”