When Hurricane Ida hit her city, she had to evacuate – and find a hospital in Houston to have her baby


Payton Matherne created a detailed plan for the birth of their first baby.

“I’m a great planner,” she said with a smile.

But Hurricane Ida put all of these plans on hold.

Matherne had just reached 39 weeks of gestation when the news focused on the storm that was forming in the Gulf.

She went for her regular check-up on Friday, August 27th.

“At this point we wanted to stay,†recalls Matherne.

She’d chosen a hospital near her home in Raceland, LA, in Lafourche Parish, southeast of New Orleans.

But the storm continued to gain strength as it got closer. “And they expected it to get stronger,” said Matherne.

“What are we going to do?” she asked her husband Corey.

The couple discussed the pros and cons of staying home or evacuating. They decided to stay there, but also to go to the hospital a little before their due date, just in case.

Matherne’s grandmother Cindy Daigle offered to go inside – and take care of the couple’s four dogs while she was away.

On Saturday morning, Matherne learned that her in-laws, Neina and Perry Matherne, had been evacuated, which led to a change of heart.

“I made the decision to go to my parents in Cypress,” said Matherne.

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The only problem: it was already 3 centimeters wide.

Matherne went back to her doctor to see if it would be safe to travel. When she returned home with the green light, her husband was preparing her home for a storm.

“I tried to pack the car,” she said. “We only left the house with our hospital bags.”

Their grandmother decided to evacuate with them. Matherne drove her car and Corey followed.

“It took us nine hours to get to Cypress,†recalls Matherne.

The whole time she kept repeating in her head, “Just don’t go into labor now. Just make it to Cypress. “

Payton Matherne created a detailed plan for the birth of their first baby. But Hurricane Ida put all of these plans on hold.


Find a hospital

Matherne tried to hold it together.

“It is what it is,” she thought. “What we wanted to do in Raceland is out the window. Now we have to start a new plan. “

Having to find a new hospital, she started calling around asking if one would accept a new patient preparing for an early birth.

“Nobody would accept me as a patient because I was ready,†she recalls.

But recommendations for the Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women kept popping up.

“This is a story we can all appreciate in the Houston area,” said Dr. Karin Fox, specialist in maternal and fetal medicine and medical director for maternal transport in hospitals. “We ourselves were hit by weather events or had to evacuate. This is an example of how we reach out to our neighbors. Whenever we have the capacity, we want to help. “

Dr. Fox added that Texas Children’s is a Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and a Level IV maternal care facility, designations for the highest level of care available.

“We can take care of high-risk pregnancies,” she said.

In addition to storms and cyclones, there are many other factors that can lead to complications.

“Sometimes the unexpected happens, like premature labor or a complication,” said Fox.

Texas Children’s is equipped and ready, she said. In addition, the facility’s transportation team and helipad at the top of the Lester and Sue Smith Legacy Towers make it accessible if time is of the essence.

“We have patients from all over the world,” said Fox. “Host families from outside the city are not uncommon. We welcome you all into our care. “

After finding a hospital, Matherne’s concerns focused on the hurricane that struck the Lafourche township on August 29.

“We all sat in my parents’ house and saw everything that happened at home,” she said. “We didn’t know how big the damage was. We got some information, but not specifically about our house. “

One thing is certain: the regrets of those who have chosen to stay, she said.

“They said they would never stay again in a hurricane this strong,” recalled Matherne. “Some people have lost their entire house.”

The storm’s winds are the most damaging, she added.

“A lot of people in Lafourche parish had pretty much nothing left,” said Matherne. “Some still live in tents.”

Payton Matherne created a detailed plan for the birth of their first baby.  But Hurricane Ida put all of these plans on hold.

Payton Matherne created a detailed plan for the birth of their first baby. But Hurricane Ida put all of these plans on hold.


To tell a story

A friend who had been evacuated returned to the area, walked through the Mathernes’ house and reported that only a few clapboards were missing from the roof.

“We were very lucky,†said Matherne.

The roof had to be repaired and there was water damage. The power was still off. Corey’s parents were able to return the following week and empty the fridge and freezer. Then they brought things that the couple needed, like a cot.

Matherne was admitted to hospital on September 7th – six days after her due date.

Their son Tillman was born at 4:18 pm the following day.

And all those best plans didn’t matter anymore.

“He was healthy – and we were happy,” said Matherne.

They all returned to their parents, Amy and Jeff Dennis, where they rested for a week. One silver lining was that Tillman was able to spend extra time with his grandparents.

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Eventually the Mathernes decided to return to Raceland.

“Our house was still without electricity,†said Matherne.

Their father went with them, and they stayed with an uncle nearby who had power.

When they pulled up, however, they were greeted with a welcome sight.

“Our porch lights were on,” said Matherne. “That was good timing.”

Tillman recently turned 2 months old.

“It’s definitely a story we’ll tell him when he’s older,†said Matherne. “He has a Texas birth certificate. And we never thought that would happen. “

She is grateful to family members who helped with her hurricane delivery – and especially to the hospital, which she welcomed with open arms.

Lindsay Peyton is a Houston-based freelance writer.


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