From floodwaters to hope renewed

Baby Evelyn’s home is simply where her heart is ...

Everyone in the region will remember that Saturday. Certainly those most impacted – in communities like Hawarden, Iowa. As the rivers crested and the floodwaters rose, families scrambled to evacuate their homes and businesses, saving what they could of their lives, making their way to safety.

Tristen got a call from his mom on Saturday morning to do just that. Watching the current situation from her residence outside Vermillion, SD, she warned her son that the impending flood looked like it was headed toward Hawarden, where he and Jessica were renting their first home … and expecting their first baby.

“We left the house at 11am, grabbing what we could,” recalled Tristen. “We took the hospital bag that we had packed, since our baby was due any day. And a few other things we could fit in the car. And headed to my mom’s house.”

The baby’s crib, given to the couple by a family member, was one of the many special things lost in the flood. “I had been working on completely re-finishing the crib for our baby,” Tristen whispered sadly, before perking up to report that their birth doctor, Dr. Marie Moeller, had just given them a bassinet donated by a friend.

So baby Evelyn will have a safe and comfy place to sleep, the couple smiled.

That’s not the only thing the new parents received from hospital staff following the birth of their little girl on Thursday, June 27.

“Nurses and other health system staff have brought clothes, not just for our baby, but also for us,” reported Jessica, a bit overwhelmed following such uncertainty surrounding the birth, including an emergency C-section. “Besides providing so many of the things we need to take our baby home (to grandma’s house for now), they have been so supportive. Nurse Cheryl has walked with us through it all, just like Dr. Moeller has.”

Jessica and Tristen were advised to make the trek from Vermillion – where they had been staying since Saturday – to Orange City by Wednesday, since they very much wanted to deliver at Orange City Area Health System.

“Dr. Moeller gave us so much assurance,” said Jessica. “She suggested I be induced, since I was so close to my due date. I was so thankful for that, because Orange City Area Health System had earned my trust throughout my pregnancy.”

And that trust has only been strengthened after a safe and healthy birth.

“Jessica was nervous about having a C-section,” explained Tristen. “But the surgeons were so calm, and they talked with us the whole time, helping us to be calm too.

“This is definitely not how we planned it,” added Jessica. “But everyone kept us safe, and now we have a healthy baby girl.”

Evelyn Harvey Joy.

Harvey is the name of Tristen’s cousin, who was very special to him. He sadly passed away following the death of his own daughter.

Tristen shared some of the tragedy and challenges he himself has faced over the years, perhaps in some way helping him navigate and endure the challenge of losing so much in the flood, while becoming new parents. He talked about how he found himself homeless for five years, but once he found Jessica, they worked together to find a place to live and thrive. A rental house in Hawarden, filled with hope and joy.

He struggled with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) for years, and you can see how compassionate and protective he is of his new daughter.

The couple looks forward. Forward to starting over when they can. Tristen lost all his work clothes and shoes (he is employed with Alkota in Alcester) but he says that can all be replaced.

As they prepared to leave the hospital, they mentioned their pets, who were waiting for them at Tristen’s mom’s house. Jessica’s cats, Lilo and Marco. And Tristen’s two-year-old German Shepherd, Jericho, who has been a big support for him with his PTSD.

To be sure, this family has experienced trauma over the past week, as have many people in our region. But the birth of a new baby – and the compassion and support of the people not only in the hospital but throughout this region – brings a ray of sunshine and hope renewed.