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Hurricane’s winds can’t stop baby from coming

City councilman’s daughter battles Mother Nature’s fury before and after delivery

POSTED: September 24, 2008 5:01 a.m.

It was bad enough to be in downtown Houston when Hurricane Ike swept through Texas last week, leaving more than 2 million people without power. It was even worse to be waiting to go into labor at any time.

Melody Joy Hunley, the 29-year-old daughter of Gainesville City Councilman George Wangemann, was due to give birth to her first child on Sept. 12, the same night Hurricane Ike made landfall in Texas.

"It was a wild night," Wangemann said of his daughter's experience.

Hunley and her husband spent the evening huddled in their home in downtown Houston, even though her family encouraged her to come to Gainesville to have her baby. Hunley, a Gainesville High School graduate, had decided against evacuating because her home was only about a half a mile from the nearest hospital, said her sister, Heidi Migalla.

"She felt like she was in good hands," Migalla said. "She didn't fathom the fact that the power would be out for weeks and there would be no food."

Ike came, flooding the first floor of the Hunleys' home, slamming tree branches into the windows and washing the neighbors' fence into the back yard.

"She was very nervous," Wangemann said. "She was nervous that the baby may come, but not come in a healthy way."

No baby came for another six days, however.

"Maybe that's a good thing," Wangemann said. "Because the weather was fine on Thursday, even though Houston was in a terrible state of chaos."

In the aftermath of the storm, the Hunleys' home was without power, and the southeastern Texas heat took over.

"She was just very, very uncomfortable, because it was so hot and humid," Wangemann said. "She could just hardly stand it."

By midweek, the Hunleys went to stay with friends who had power restored to their home, Migalla said, adding that it was there that Hunley went into labor. But with the chaos in Houston, it was hard to get much attention at the hospital. Nurses had evacuated, and the hospitals were busier than usual.

"They put her on a bed, and she stayed on that bed for probably half a day before somebody came to check on her," Wangemann said. "The hospital was very full, and again they were very short-handed. She had to patiently wait her turn."

When Hunley's baby had made little progress by the end of the day, doctors decided it would be best to perform a Caesarean section. Hunley finally gave birth on Thursday to a healthy, 9-pound, 6-ounce girl.

With the crowded hospitals, Hunley is sharing a recovery room with other patients, and the hospital's food supplies have gotten low, Migalla said.

Hunley expects to be discharged from the hospital on Sunday. She and her family will stay with relatives who live about one hour away from Houston; they had power restored on Friday. It will be a place of comfort until the Hunley family is able to bring things back to normal at their own home in Houston, Migalla said.

Hunley's experience giving birth to her first child was more memorable than she may have imagined it would be, Migalla said.

"This is definitely her first hurricane, and she said she learned from it," Migalla said.

 



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