Cathy Allen Rude gazed at the street in front of her house and saw it was flooded. But, she didn’t think the baby would wait until the water had subsided.
Rude, a 63-year-old midwife, learnt that an expectant mother had gone into labor early, and Rude thought the baby would arrive soon. However, the street outside her Houston home had flooded after heavy rains. Though the birth clinic was quite close to her home, Rude couldn’t risk getting her equipment wet or dirty so she couldn’t wade through the water.
The mother-to-be had asked a friend to take Rude to the clinic on a kayak, but that plan failed. The expectant mom was at the end of Rude’s street when she saw one of Rude’s neighbors floating on an inflatable swan.
“‘How about giving my midwife a ride on your swan to come deliver my baby?’” she yelled.
After the mother-to-be asked if Rude could borrow the swan, the neighbor pushed it to Rude’s home and helped her pack her equipment onto the truck waiting to take her to the clinic.
Delivering babies has been a longtime passion of Rude’s, so even flooding wasn’t liable to hold her back. She married at a young age, but received a diagnosis of endometriosis at 19 and was told that she most likely wouldn’t be able to bear children. Rude and her husband were only planning on starting a family much later, but they were shocked into trying after she was diagnosed.
After six unsuccessful years, she was left hopeless.
“I decided it was too hard,” she said. “It was affecting my life in every way. I had to move on and do something else.”
The something else Rude did was go to nursing school. She decided that if she was unable to have a child of her own, she would help other women deliver theirs. But, the next August, Rude discovered that she was pregnant with a little girl.
“I was shocked and delighted,” she remembered.
Over the next two decades, the Rude family grew by five children: two daughters and three sons. Rude’s eldest daughter helped deliver the youngest daughter in their home. After her fourth baby was born, Rude started studying midwifery through a distance program and she became a certified professional midwife.
Rude spent two decades working as a midwife before she launched the Katy Birth Centre, close to her home, in 2010. And it was at this clinic that she delivered a little boy, weighing nine pounds and 12.2 ounces, after crossing a flooded street in an inflatable swan.
“It all worked out great,” she said.
While the family took their new baby home, Rude stayed at her clinic, saying she was waiting for another expectant mother’s baby to arrive.
Rude said that as more rain was expected for the week, she will struggle to get home. She decided to remain at her clinic until the next child arrives or the floodwater subsides.
“It’s still flooded, unless I want to take another ride.”