Amy Schneider’s fourth pregnancy was always going to be nerve-wracking.
Beyond the traditional anxieties that come with childbirth, last week, the New Orleans resident was preparing to have her second child since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. This time, the Delta variant was raging in her state, and a trip to the hospital was not exactly risk-free.
Then came word of Hurricane Ida.
Even as Schneider, 36, and her husband Scott were debating on Saturday whether to evacuate the Big Easy before the storm crashed into the Louisiana Gulf Coast, the decision was made for them.
Amy went into labor.
“I was originally scheduled to have a C-Section [on Monday] and hadn’t been feeling well all week, but my doctor canceled because Ida was coming,” she told The Daily Beast.
“They didn’t have a reason to take me in, so our fear was that I’d go into labor during the storm and we couldn’t get to the hospital or I’d go into labor while evacuating and we’d be stuck in gridlock.”
With their baby resolving that uncertainty, the Schneiders rushed to East Jefferson General Hospital in Metairie with the storm’s landfall hours away.
“We were relieved a little when I went into labor, but then that caused so many more problems to come up,” Amy said. “Because of COVID, we had to be extra careful so we wouldn’t get sick, but that also meant that we couldn’t bring our children with us. They won’t allow anyone besides your partner into the hospital, so we had to be separated from our children as a Category 4 hurricane was about to hit.”
According to The News Star, which compiled numbers for East Jefferson General Hospital, the week before Ida struck, the facility had seen about 92.5 percent of the hospital’s 186 beds occupied, and their ICU was 90 percent full. While not the worst in the state for COVID-19 numbers, the hospital saw an average of 46.3 COVID patients admitted the week prior to Aug. 23.
It may have helped some that it wasn’t Schneider family’s first foray at childbirth in the age of the pandemic. But even that experience did not prepare them for this.
“Just as the lockdowns were starting last year in April, we had our baby girl, Clara. The height of a worldwide pandemic and we were having a baby. We thought, ‘Well, this couldn’t get any worse,’ and boy were we wrong,” Amy Schneider said.
To say the Schneiders were anxious was an understatement. Their other children, Adele, 8, Sean, 3, and 16-month-old Clara would have to be cared for by Scott Schneider’s parents. And while they were stuck inside the hospital, Ida unleashed its fury, killing at least two people as of Monday afternoon and plunging hundreds of thousands into darkness and despair.
In the hospital in the hours after the birth, which was successful, the wind howled, windows shook, and water leaked in, soaking the floors. Then the power failed for about an hour and hospital staff rushed to deal with the multitude of problems the hurricane had wrought, according to Schneider. LCMC Spokesperson Holly Lassere confirmed the hospital endured limited property damage, but would not comment further.
As the rain came pouring through the leaking windows, Scott Schneider had to rush between mopping up the water with towels and running to the bathroom to wring them out, he recalled. This back and forth continued for hours until finally Ida’s fury began to abate.
“I actually felt more scared this go-around because we’ve seen more deaths from it and the Delta variant is different and there are so many unknowns,” Amy added. “We have so much more to think about, and I’ve been more anxious about how my decisions could affect them.
“But when you have a Category 4 hurricane coming at you, too, that’s even scarier,” she continued, before alluding to her still-unnamed fourth child. “I don’t think we were thinking too much about what we were going to name our baby or anything else. There was just too much.”