Mom Delivers Her Own Baby During Hurricane Irma with Help from UHealth/Jackson Doctor

Tatyanna Watkins, 23, began having contractions after midnight, a minute apart, in the midst of Hurricane Irma on Sunday. She quickly realized she was going into labor. With the help of a City of Miami Government dispatcher and the guidance of Dr. Kendra Gillespie, Tatyanna was walked through the delivery of Baby Destiny.

“I put the heating pad on to help with the pain but it wasn’t working like I hoped,” said Watkins. “But around 5:30 a.m., my boyfriend and I started panicking – I couldn’t stop screaming.”

Watkins was quickly going into labor at her boyfriend’s residence in northwest Miami-Dade– she had been evacuated from her Homestead home, and originally had plans to deliver at Jackson South Community Hospital in south Miami-Dade County.

City of Miami Fire Rescue couldn’t get to her because the hurricane’s winds were too strong – instead their dispatcher along with a University of Miami Health System/Jackson Memorial Hospital obstetrician/gynecologist Kendra Gillespie collaborated on a three-way call that included Watkins and boyfriend David Knight. They walked the anxious couple through the delivery of their own baby and taught them how to tie off the placenta.

“I had to remain calm and not panic for myself and boyfriend, but I was very nervous,” recalls Watkins. “My boyfriend was traumatized, and we hope to never go through this again.”

Coming in at six pounds, 11 ounces, and 20 inches, Destiny Janine Knight was born.

“There were a flurry of emotions – concern about the delivery going without complication, excitement that parents were getting to have this moment and laughter listening to Mr. Knight complete the delivery of the placenta in utter awe,” said Dr. Gillespie. “This was not something I had ever considered would actually materialize, but I went into medicine for this reason and I’ve been trained well to help.”

Once it was safe for City of Miami Fire Rescue to transport mom and the baby, they were brought to The Women’s Hospital at Jackson Memorial around 8 a.m.

“All the medical staff kept calling me the Irma superstar,” a laughing Watkins admits.

Mom and baby are expected to be discharged this week as baby Destiny is currently being monitored at Holtz Children’s Hospital Pediatric Cardiac ICU (PICU) at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center, to ensure she continues to be healthy and ready to go home.

The 9-1-1 dispatcher will surprise Watkins during a press conference. The new mom will also share her journey and thank her medical team, City of Miami firefighters as well as the dispatcher who assisted her through this experience. This is Watkins’ third child. Her five-year-old son and two-year-old daughter were with Watkins’ parents during the hurricane.