As I snuggled the girls to sleep last night, the last words Lela whispered were, “A big storm is coming”. She seemed so blindly excited by the maps they kept flashing on the TV, completely naive of the fact that “the pickle” she was tracking all day was actually a Category Four hurricane barreling through the Atlantic Ocean…heading directly to our house on the North Carolina coast. I wish I could see this entire scenario from those naive two-year-old eyes, and not the eyes of a 40-week pregnant lady with three tiny kids, two rabbits, a cat, and a dog to protect–the eyes of a woman now packing rain boots and flashlights in her hospital bag, preparing to deliver a baby right as this storm hits us.
Growing up on the coast of SC, I’m no stranger to hurricanes, flooding, or evacuations–I knew from an early age that survival supplies should always be on hand and your evacuation route should be mapped out at all times. But, as I heard more and more frightful weather reports by the hour yesterday, I had some massive anxiety take over in the face of all of the unknowns: Am I going to have to birth this baby on an Interstate while evacuating? Am I going to have to have him at home? Or in a flooded hospital without power? What about Tom and Lennox and Lela and Luna Darling? Do they evacuate without me? My normal optimism had been thrown out the window.
I had a doctor’s appointment yesterday where I unashamedly cried to be induced ahead of the storm so I could evacuate with Tom and the kids. My doctor actually tried finding every medical reason under the sun to humor that request for me (they don’t do “elective inductions” before 41 weeks, which normally I would think is amazing)–but after the longest ultrasound ever, it was concluded that Baby Four is almost eight pounds, strong/regular heart beat, plenty of amniotic fluid, and there is literally no reason under the sun to induce before I hit 41 weeks…which is Friday…when the storm is literally making landfall.
Because I had EXTREMELY RAPID deliveries of Lela and Luna, my doctor and I agreed that it would be much safer to wait the week out at the hospital (no matter the condition), instead of running the risk of going into rapid labor and hemorrhaging in gridlock evacuation traffic. So, as of this morning, our plan is to ride out the hurricane in the local hospital as a family, while we wait for our smallest arrival. Once he is finally earthside, we have months worth of food already on hand at home, plenty of survival supplies, and we are fully prepared for the worst case scenario of losing power/phone signal/Internet for weeks or months with a newborn baby and three other very young children. It’s scary to think about, but we even have a tiny boat to bring him home from the hospital in, if the waters get too high to drive the two miles back to our house. The maps of the winds and storm surge directly on our town aren’t OVERLY frightening, and I feel extraordinarily lucky to be married to Tom, who not only knows a great deal about weather from being a Navy Pilot…he is also trained in every survival situation under the sun, hurricanes included.
Today, we are testing the walkie-talkies to see if we can get a clear signal from the hospital to the house, for if we do have to split up and the phone towers could be down. We are filtering gallons and gallons of water, making sure all supplies are on the second floor away from flood waters, covering the windows, and checking the reports as this beast inches closer and closer to our home. I am trying to find my hope again, in the face of the insanity, and I am staying calm for the sake of my babies.
I do fear for the East Coast–for every other mother in my situation, for every family facing the unknown of a storm this size, for every one wondering if they should panic or brush it off. Without question, Hurricane Florence has already made a huge impact on our family, and I’m so anxious to see where that impact will stop and what damage will be done. Please keep the people of the Carolinas in your thoughts as this catastrophic hurricane changes all of our lives.