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A hurricane baby born by the light of glowsticks and flashlights

Daniel Martins, staff writer
November 4, 2012 — Hurricane Sandy couldn't stop the birth of baby Stone Weinstock, who came into the world despite a power outage at NYU hospital.

Tamar Weinstock said staff at both NYU and Mt. Sinai were calm and professional (courtesy: Tamar and Allon Weinstock)
Tamar Weinstock said staff at both NYU and Mt. Sinai were calm and professional (courtesy: Tamar and Allon Weinstock)

Baby Stone Weinstock came into the world by the light of glowsticks and flashlights.

It was Monday night. Hurricane Sandy was pummelling the northeastern United States, and a short time before delivery, the generator at New York University hospital had failed.

Not the best of circumstances, but the birth was without complications. And the boy's mother, Tamar Weinstock, shows not a trace of stress at the memory.

"Having the lights down, and just a lot of people very supportive around me, it ended up being a very great experience, I certainly won't forget for a very long time," she said over Skype Sunday.

"Once I had my baby in my arms, really nothing else mattered. Everything else was just going on around me."

Stone showed up four weeks early, surprising Tamar and dad Allon Monday morning, when Tamar's water broke.

"It was funny, because the whole weekend leading up to the hurricane, we'd been joking that this would be the absolute worst time to go into labour," she recalled.

"Then, lo and behold, there were were on Monday morning, trying to figure out how we get into the city and NYU, given that transportation had all but come to a halt."

Tamar's mother-in-law drove in from Long Island to pick the couple up. The ride to NYU was easy; tunnels and bridges were still clear and the roads were near empty, with New Yorkers warned to stay home.

Once at the hospital and in a hospital bed, Tamar says, the atmosphere was almost cozy as she was surrounded by friends and family -- right up until the power went out.

But not to worry: Though the lights dimmed, the medical instruments kept on humming along, thanks to backup generators hospital staff said could keep essential equipment running for a week.

"We talked about how we were probably in the best place in all New York city to be weathering out the storm," she says. "Where but the hospital would you have the best backup generator systems?"

But the Weinstocks spoke too soon: Later, even the instruments winked out.

"We were left in the dark with one small lightbulb over the doorway, sort of looking at each other saying 'now what's going on?'"

Tamar -- who has nothing but praise for NYU's staff -- said doctors soon arrived to check on her. They decided to move on with the delivery.

"I heard them out in the hallway, sort of rallying each other, saying 'let's deliver this baby,'" she recalls.

After the lights went out, staff broke out the flashlights and glowsticks (Courtesy: Tamar and Allon Weinstock)
After the lights went out, staff broke out the flashlights and glowsticks (Courtesy: Tamar and Allon Weinstock)

And so they did, with a few extra staff on hand to hold the flashlights steady. Baby Stone came into the world weighing a little over seven pounds.

She said while she and her husband decided on "Stone" as the name for their firstborn, she said many people suggested "Sandy." 

She wasn't keen on that.

"Something that causes such devastation and hardship for people, I don't see why anyone would want to name their child after that," she said.

Less than half an hour later, Stone and the Weinstocks were told they would be evacuated from the darkened NYU.

Tamar recalls being strapped down into a sled, then carried by two doctors down eight flights of stairs, with a nurse and students in tow with the baby and her luggage.

At the bottom, she was reunited with Stone, then loaded onto an ambulance bound for Mt. Sinai hospital.

She recalls learning the drivers were from Ohio, part of a legion of emergency services personnel that poured into the New York region ahead of Sandy.

There, again, she had nothing but praise for the staff that greeted her, placing her into triage.

Twenty-four hours after the birth, the family was at home in Queens. Although millions of Americans were in the dark in the wake of Sandy, the lights were on at their home.

Even when in the darkened NYU, or the crowded Mt. Sinai, Tamar said she and Allon were never too concerned.

"It was a long day and a long night, but we knew we were where we needed to be, and we were together and we had our baby, so not much else mattered at that point."

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