Born during the blackout, Victoria Rose turns 10

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | On Aug. 14, 2003, Marena Watson gave birth to her daughter Victoria Rose during the blackout. Mr. Watson, joined by her mother Maggie, thought at the time her phone call while in labor caused the power outage.

In August 2003, while working as a horse mame braider, Marena Watson finished another day on the job late one afternoon when she began to feel uneasy.

She stopped to see her cousin, who encouraged her to head to the doctor since she was pregnant. Her doctor happened to be across the street from Peconic Bay Medical Center (then called Central Suffolk Hospital).

A copy of the Aug. 21, 2003 News-Review article on Ms. Watson.

Ms. Watson had been scheduled to be induced Aug. 15 to give birth to her daughter. After a quick examination, Ms. Watson’s doctor told her she needed to rush to the hospital. The baby was arriving sooner than expected.

“Of course I run in,” Ms. Watson recalled in a telephone interview Wednesday. “I got into the hospital and they sat me down. I was overheated. So they gave me something to calm me down.”

Ms. Watson grabbed her cell phone just past 4 p.m. Aug. 14 to call her mother, who was flying in from Shropshire, England, where Ms. Watson grew up.

As she clicked send, everything went dark.

She threw the phone in her bag, unsure what had just happened. Memories of 9/11 were still fresh in everyone’s mind, creating a surreal moment.

In Ms. Watson’s delirium, she thought her phone call suddenly killed the power.

“I obviously did not,” Ms. Watson joked 10 years later.

What actually happened at precisely that same time was a massive blackout across the Northeast that affected approximately 50 million people and left some without power for a few days.

A few hours later, at 11:47 p.m., six-pound, 14-ounce Victoria Rose was welcomed into her mother’s arms inside the steamy hospital.

“It was definitely something to remember,” Ms. Watson said.

Ms. Watson’s aunt, who lives in East Marion, was one of the first visitors, as nurses tried to cool the room with fans since the air conditioner wasn’t working.

As Ms. Watson was wheeled back into her room, the lights popped back on.

Ms. Watson, who was living at North Quarter Farm in Riverhead at the time, recalled the story as she travelled with her daughter on her 10th birthday. They were in Kentucky two days ago, drove up to Detroit and across into Canada to Niagara Falls yesterday to celebrate Victoria’s birthday.

“Today we’re on the road,” Ms. Watson said. “We’re sitting in traffic on Exit 12 on 95 heading to Connecticut. Hopefully on Sunday we’ll head back out to Long Island.”

And hopefully this time, the power remains on.

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COURTESY PHOTO | Marena Watson with her daughter Victoria Rose yesterday at Niagara Falls. Victoria’s 10th birthday is today.