When Cathy Rude, 63, of Texas became a midwife, she knew that she would go through hell or high water for her patients. But she may not have anticipated just how high that water would be — or that it would involve the world’s biggest inflatable swan.
When heavy rains flooded Rude’s street in Far North Harris County, (“It was actually coming up to my front door,” Rude explained to me over the phone this morning) making it impossible for her to get to her patient who was in labor, an interesting solution presented itself.
Knowing her patient, Andrea, pregnant with her third baby, was overdue and had a history of both a VBAC and fast labors, Rude says she was “very concerned” for her. Her patient was able to make it to the birth center, where a team member found her to be 6-7 centimeters dilated. Her team first tried to pick Rude up in a very high pick-up truck, but the waters were too deep. A second attempt to borrow a friend’s kayak also failed, as they were off rescuing people who were flooded.
Finally, it was the laboring mother herself who saved the day. Rude was on the phone with Andrea, who spotted the swan and yelled out the window, “Hey! Will you go pick up my midwife and bring her to me?”
“Andrea called me back and said, ‘A swan will be coming to pick you up!'” Rude laughs. “And I opened up my front door and sure enough, here’s this swan.”
The woman, Rude’s neighbor Celeste, was simply out for a joy ride on her inflatable swan, enjoying the unexpected river on her road and catching some rays, because why not? Little did she know, her swan was about to be transformed into a stork on a very important baby delivery.
Celeste actually pushed Rude on her swan all the way to the birth center to get her to the mother in labor. “I had been with her for her last baby,” Rude explains. “I wanted to be with her.”
So Rude was swept up, not by a knight on a white horse, but a determined woman on a white swan.
And believe it or not, it was the pregnant woman in labor who snapped these priceless pictures. These are some downright cool women, let me tell you.
Rude, LPM, CPM, has six children herself (ranging in age from 20 to 38) and six grandchildren (three of whom she delivered herself). She explained to me that she always had a love for caring for pregnant women. Originally enrolled in nursing school, Rude paused her schooling when she became pregnant with her first baby after struggling with infertility.
She went on to have five more children, trained to become a midwife, and eventually opened up the Katy Birth Center in Katy, Texas, where she and her team offer a full range of pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum care. Mothers can choose to deliver their babies right at the birth center or opt for a home birth. Rude also serves as the Vice-President of the Association of Texas Midwives and works on training midwives in the area through a module at her birth center.
This story started with water and ended with water — both with Andrea’s water breaking and her baby boy being born in via what else? A water birth! “But in a birth pool not the floodwaters!” Rude clarified on Facebook.
Andrea and her baby boy (born at a cool 9 lbs. 12 oz) went home, per protocol, a few hours after her delivery and were able to successfully make it home despite the flooding. Rude wasn’t able to get back home, so she stayed the night at the center in order to be there for her next batch of patients in the morning.
“I’ve had several adventurous rides, but I would say this definitely takes the cake,” laughs Rude. “It was fun. It just speaks to the commitment that midwives have to their clients. They have a close relationship with them, because we spend so much time with them. We really get to know them and they get to feel comfortable with their midwives. I think that’s true of most midwives across the world.”
And that may very well be true. But Rude may be the first and only midwife in the world to have hitched a ride on a giant swan to deliver a baby.