The mother of an embryo rescued from a hospital flooded during Hurricane Katrina on Tuesday gave birth to a healthy boy.
Noah Markham was born by Caesarean section at 7:23 a.m. CDT at St. Tammany Hospital. Before the procedure, his mother, Rebekah Markham, had decided on the name — provided the baby was a boy — "because God put it on his heart to build an ark."
The baby checked in 8 pounds 6 1/2 ounces and 19 1/2 inches long. Doctors said the baby was in good shape.
Relatives gathered around as father Glen Markham carried the baby downstairs to meet them. For a few seconds he tried to make them guess whether the baby in the pink-and-blue striped cap was a boy or a girl, then he said: "It's a boy" to an eruption of cheers and applause.
His grandmother, Lezette Crosby, got on the telephone to another relative: "It's Noah, Noah, it's a boy."
When Katrina struck, the baby was one of 1,400 embryos frozen for storage in canisters of liquid nitrogen at a hospital in eastern New Orleans.
Rebekah Markham, 32, had evacuated before the hurricane with their toddler, Glen Witter "Witt" Markham Jr. Her husband, a New Orleans police officer, stayed to work.
Mother and son actually evacuated twice. The first time was to relatives' about a half-hour from their brick-and-tan-siding home, nestled among 40-foot-tall pine trees in Covington.
But the storm toppled trees and cut electricity across south Louisiana. Their first refuge became a poor place to care for a toddler who had turned 1 only 10 days before the storm, so they went to Rebekah Markham's sister's home in central Louisiana.
A cell phone text message — "R U OK?" — the day after the storm told her that her husband had survived.
He was stationed across the Mississippi River from flooded parts of the city. But it had its own dangers. One member of his squad was shot in the head on Aug. 29 after confronting looters at a gas station.
Markham, 42, never got his wife's answer to his text query. His phone's battery was dead. "It was about two weeks before I found out that they were OK," he said.
It took longer than that to have time to think about the embryos. When Rebekah Markham called, she learned that they had been rescued.
Dr. Belinda "Sissy" Sartor of The Fertility Institute of New Orleans and the clinic's lab director, Roman Pyrzak, had led seven Illinois Conservation Police officers and three from Louisiana State Police on a rescue expedition to the facility in flat-bottomed boats brought from Illinois.
Witt is also an in-vitro baby. His embryo was created at the same time as his brother's or sister's, but it was implanted immediately, while five others were frozen in case of miscarriage — and because the Markhams always wanted more than one child.
They are not sure whether they will have a third.
"I thought three would be the ideal number," Rebekah Markham has said. But her medical problems have required bedrest for the first three months of each pregnancy. "And I was even more sick with this one than with Witt."
They also needed a lot of family help to take care of Witt, a boy who never seems to stop running. So any decision probably will be postponed until both children are in school.