Drive-by baby shower honors North Merrick nurse on the front lines of Covid-19


Last Saturday’s forecast was mostly cloudy, but that didn’t put a damper on a drive-by baby shower in honor of Katie Sobey Rodriguez, a pregnant nurse practitioner who is working on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. Last Saturday, dozens of vehicles lined Foxglove Road in North Merrick to drive past the Rodriguez family’s home in celebration of their baby-to-be.

A traditional shower was originally scheduled for April 19, but when that was no longer possible, Lisa Sobey, Rodriguez’s sister, decided to organize the drive-by baby shower instead.

“We [couldn’t] not have a shower, especially since Katie is the baby of the family,” said Sobey, of Bellmore, one of Rodriguez’s 12 siblings. “I was really shocked by how many people showed up.”

Twenty-five cars descended on Foxglove Road, each filled with family members and friends honking horns, brandishing signs and bearing gifts. Outside the house, another sister of Rodriguez’s, Sarah Parrot, set up a table that soon overflowed with presents, balloons and dinosaur-themed decorations.

“My husband told me to be ready at two o’clock, and I was like, ‘Where are we going? We can’t go anywhere,’” Rodriguez said. One by one, passengers dropped off gifts, garments and other baby goodies for the couple, bringing tears to their eyes.

Sobey noted that many people decorated their cars and donned party hats for the occasion — one partygoer even showed up in a gorilla suit. “They really put in an effort to put a smile on her face,” she said. “It just shows how much love there is in this world.”

“All the baby and bridal showers in my family have always been a surprise, and it was overwhelming to see everyone come out, and in person,” Rodriguez said. “This is supposed to be a happy and exciting time — getting the nursery ready, going to doctor appointments with your spouse — but [now] you can’t share any of that with anyone.”

Both Katie, a former emergency room nurse, and her husband, Juan, have been working through the pandemic. Juan is a nurse at NYU Winthrop, and Rodriguez works at an urgent-care facility, testing people for Covid-19. About a month ago, she began experiencing symptoms consistent with the virus — cough, shortness of breath, low-grade fevers, body aches and fatigue — but ultimately she tested negative. Once fully recovered, she returned to work as usual.

“I admire her determination and the fact that she’s still working so hard,” Sobey said of her sister.

“It’s hard for me not to work,” Rodriguez said. “I’ve always been someone who’s on their feet, working long hours and overtime. Even with the new role I’m in, I’m thankful that I’m still helping people.”

Baby Rodriguez is due to arrive in June.