Mom who called 11Alive Help Desk in ice storm delivers healthy boy

2:23 AM, Feb 15, 2014   |    comments
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ATLANTA -- Friday we met a baby born during the ice storm who melted our hearts.

His name is Luke.

We learned about Luke on Wednesday, hours before he was born. Luke's mother was in labor, and her husband, Luke's father, was trying to drive her to the hospital in that storm. And she made a crucial -- and, for us, memorable -- phone call. To us.

So, we take you back to Wednesday. That awful, icy day.

We take you behind the scenes at 11Alive --

Crash Clark was on the air around the clock with road and traffic information.

Julie Wolfe and the 11Alive Help Desk were fielding hundreds of calls, emails, and Facebook and Twitter posts, around the clock -- from people caught up in the storm. Julie was going on the air every few minutes, answering people's questions.

And one call Julie answered took everyone's breath away.

It was a call from a pregnant woman named Nikole, who was in labor.

"She needed to know a way to get from where she was to the hospital in downtown Atlanta," Julie said later.

And Nikole needed to know it, fast.

Julie was not on the air, just then.

She set the phone down and she ran -- sprinted -- from the Help Desk on the second floor of 11Alive, down the stairs, and into the first-floor studio, to find out, from Crash, what to tell Nikole.

"All of a sudden, Julie comes running down to me, 'We've got a woman in labor!,'" Crash recalled.

And just like that, Crash told Julie which roads and routing would be passable for Nikole, to get from home in Cobb County, to I-75, and then to the hospital in Midtown Atlanta.

Julie sprinted back upstairs to the Help Desk, not realizing, at first, that her turn to go back on the air was seconds away.

She was just beginning to tell Nikole the road information when she saw the TV camera switch to her, live.

"Hold on, one second, Nikole," Julie said.  Then Julie addressed the viewers: "I've got to tell you guys what's going on, here. I have Nikole on the phone. She's in labor. And needs directions...."

Julie was out of breath from running so fast down and up the stairs. She is a veteran marathon runner. Yet she was still trying to catch her breath as she began to give Nicole the information.

"Nikole, Crash says I-75's open, stay in the right-hand lane...."

Julie relayed the rest of the road information, and Nikole and her husband were on their way.

Most reporters will tell you that, sometimes, they can't stop thinking about people they encounter in their work.

This was one of those times.

Julie hadn't been able, in those quick seconds, to ask Nikole for her contact info, in order to follow up with her.

"I feel like I really want to meet her and congratulate her," Julie said at the time.

Julie put out the word on social media -- who and where is Nikole....

The next day, Thursday, the shares and likes reached Nikole.

And Nikole called Julie a second time. This time it was to invite her to her room at Emory Midtown Hospital. To meet Luke.

On Friday, Valentine's Day, Julie walked into their room with flowers and balloons and good wishes.

"Oh thank you, thank you, thank you," Nikole said with Luke in her arms, motioning Julie to her bedside for an embrace. "Thank you for your help. This is Luke."

A grateful mom, and dad, with their newborn, chatted with Julie about that day of the ice storm, and how they had tried to prepare for it.

"Well, he had ordered chains for his pickup," Nikole said of her husband, Richard. The chains were on. She said she and Richard thought they were ready for every possibility, and they were confident they were ready for the storm.

Nikole had even talked, earlier, with someone from 911 emergency services about whether they should call an ambulance to get to the hospital if she needed to get there during the storm.

"They couldn't guarantee that they could get me to Emory" where her doctor would be delivering the baby.

So they decided they would drive themselves, armed with road information -- and the tire chains.

"I wasn't going to get stuck on that highway in a pickup truck having a baby," she said, laughing. "As soon as [11Alive's Help Desk] found out I was in labor, [Julie] went straight to the traffic guy to get his help. You know, he (Crash) gave us the most current update."

So Crash, on Friday, was like a relieved, and proud, uncle -- who also happens to be a traffic reporter.

"Now that we know [what happened to them], it's like, wow. We did more than just help somebody get somewhere." Crash began to smile. "We helped deliver a baby, maybe, I guess. Does that make me Uncle Crash?" he said, laughing.

"Well, it was a great day," a smiling Nikole said of that otherwise awful, icy Wednesday. "Something good, really good, came out of it."

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