When Orbalina Miranda went into labor with her third child at 4:30 a.m. on Tuesday, she left her two children asleep in their beds, in a relative's care, and headed to Brookhaven Memorial Hospital with her husband, Jose Gomez.
But while Ms. Miranda was still in labor, a cousin passed out drunk, the police said. And her 2-year-old son consumed enough alcohol, supposedly from bottles strewn around the apartment, that he registered a blood-alcohol level of 0.094 percent, higher than the legal limit for adults to drive.
The cousin, Juan Reyes, 37, was arrested, charged with two counts of endangering the welfare of a minor. Her 3-year-old daughter, Rosa Gomez, was in the custody of Suffolk County Child Protective Services. And her 2-year-old son, Wilfredo Gomez, was in the emergency room of the same hospital where his mother was in delivery.
Hearing the news, Ms. Miranda became too upset to concentrate on giving birth, said her brother-in-law, Gilberto Gomez. "The baby got stuck," he said. "It was bad, very bad. She was crying."
But through a window of the bright blue house, they spotted Mr. Reyes on a bed and the two toddlers in the apartment unsupervised, the sheriff's office said.
"The little girl was playing and acting normally," said Deputy Vincent Spadafora. "She spoke very little English, but she kept trying to hug us and she smiled a lot." The boy was in a different state. His eyes were bloodshot; he was stumbling around and appeared abnormally lethargic, he said.
You'd think it could only happen here, in our part of the world, but of course not...
Stories like this give me a sense of relief when I'm worried sick I'm not doing certain things right as a mother: it's good to know there are plenty of extremes I'm never gonna go to, no matter what, and even if I am screwing up - diaper rash is one of the biggest worries now, and also Marta's poop that's somewhat too liquid and probably caused by something I eat - the damage is tiny, comparatively and on its own, and, hopefully, won't last.
I happened to watch some silly pseudo-documentary on Russian TV sometime halfway through my pregnancy, about a very young woman who worked as a train conductor, provodnitsa, and gave birth to her baby girl right there on the train. That was an unplanned pregnancy and an unwanted child, and no one even suspected she was pregnant, so she threw the newborn out of the window (3 meters off the ground, with the train moving at 70 kilometers per hour), washed all the blood off herself - and was serving tea in the morning, as usual. Incredible, but her child survived: someone found the little girl on the tracks a few hours later, with just a few minor injuries to her head.
I had no idea why I was watching this crap - but after it was over, I had a new weapon to fight my panic attacks: babies are damn strong, and I'm never gonna do such terrible things to mine anyway.