MIAMI — Two days before her due date, Tatyanna Watkins' contractions grew painfully frequent as hurricane-force winds were already lashing the Florida Keys and nearing the peninsula. For everyone else, it was time to hunker down ahead of the storm, but she was in labor.
Watkins, 23, and her boyfriend called 911 early Sunday morning and were conferenced in a three-way call with an obstetrician to deliver the baby at home because rescue teams couldn't get out in that weather. For 45 minutes, first a dispatch supervisor, and then the doctor walked the couple through delivery, telling them to use a shoelace to tie off the placenta so that the baby didn't bleed. Destiny Knight was born weighing six pounds, 11 ounces (3 kilograms) and measuring 20 inches (0.5 meters).
"I am just amazed. I am still kind of shocked, but I just think that I am here, she is here, and everybody is safe," Watkins said at a news conference Wednesday carrying her sleepy newborn, who sucking on a green pacifier. "It was traumatizing," she said. Her boyfriend, David Knight, looked up and agreed. "Yeah, traumatizing," he said.
"He still wasn't talking by the time he got to the hospital," joked Dr. Kendra Gillespie.
"I just thank God everything is alright," he said.
Emergency dispatcher supervisor Desiree Farrell said this wasn't her first delivery on the phone, but it was the first time when emergency rescuers couldn't make it to the scene. "At one point, I remember dad saying, 'Can you please stay on the phone with me?'" she said.
Watkins had been evacuated from her home in Homestead, a suburb south of Miami. She had sent her two other children with her parents and was set to hunker down at the apartment of her boyfriend's mother in Liberty City.
As far as her baby's name, she had already decided on Destiny even before the storm was heading to Florida.
"Irma wasn't even thought of," Watkins said.