Epic Rebirth

Faces of the flood: born in the middle of the flood

One drama outside, another inside the hospital

Flood baby, Makayla Geronzin of Cedar Rapids, who will celebrate her 10th birthday on Monday, listens as her parents tell the story of her birth. She was born at St. Luke’s Hospital on June 11, 2008, just as the Cedar River was on its way to a record crest. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Flood baby, Makayla Geronzin of Cedar Rapids, who will celebrate her 10th birthday on Monday, listens as her parents tell the story of her birth. She was born at St. Luke’s Hospital on June 11, 2008, just as the Cedar River was on its way to a record crest. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Melissa Geronzin arrived at St. Luke’s Hospital to give birth on June 9, 2008.

“I know when we went on Monday, we crossed over the First Avenue Bridge and everything was fine,” her husband Collin Geronzin, 41, recalled.

A flood was expected, but nothing too major.

Melissa was medically induced that Monday. But the Geronzins’ daughter, Makayla, wouldn’t be born until Wednesday, June 11, when the Cedar River’s forecast gauge failed, people were being evacuated from their homes, and the city’s downtown bridges closed.

Inside her hospital room, the family was insulated from the devastation outside.

“I do feel like I missed the flood,” Collin said, sitting at his kitchen table. “I was stuck there playing poker on my iPod.”

“Stop it,” Melissa chided. “I was in labor.”

Their daughter, sitting between them, started to laugh.

In 2008, while the Geronzins’ friends and family were sandbagging their homes and other areas around the city, they were living through a different sort of drama — nearly three days of labor.

Toward the end, Melissa remembers, no anesthesiologist was available to give her an epidural since it was nearly impossible for anyone to get from one side of Cedar Rapids to the other.

“This poor nurse, I mean, she was doing her best,” recalled Melissa, 41. “She had me sit on this exercise ball, I was not ... I probably sounded like Satan.”

It wasn’t until the early hours of June 11 that an anesthesiologist arrived, and her doctor — surprised and upset she hadn’t yet given birth — performed a C-section.

Delirious with pain, Melissa demanded the doctor tie her Fallopian tubes so she could not become pregnant again.

“And my doctor is like, no. ... You’re not just, on an emotional whim of three days pain, tying your tubes,” she recalled. “We had a son later.”

With a healthy baby, the Geronzins were discharged Saturday. By then, the river had crested at 31.12 feet — the highest level ever recorded.

The reality of the flood set in on the drive home.

“You see it on TV, and people go through storms and floods and things like that, but to drive home with the baby and look at all these homes that were just ruined ... It hit me hard then,” Melissa said.

Makayla, whose 10th birthday is Monday, has just finished third grade at Coolidge Elementary. She recently received an orange belt in taekwondo.

Although she arrived in the middle of a natural disaster, she wasn’t the Geronzins’ only dramatic birth. Their oldest, Karlee, was born during a blizzard in 2000.

“I always say, she brought the huge winter storm, Makayla brought the flood, and everyone was like — do not have a third child,” Melissa said as the family dissolved into laughter. “Dylan came with a tornado scare. But well, we just want to make big statements.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8330; molly.duffy@thegazette.com

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