Brittany Hunt was in denial. Hurricane Michael roared outside of her window, and she didn’t want to leave the safety of her home in Gray. But at 5:30 Thursday morning, Hunt knew the time had come to get in the car and hit the road.
Her water broke.
“He was almost born on my bed,” Hunt said.
She had spent most of the night preparing her hospital bag. The baby was supposed to come Saturday, and she couldn’t decide what to pack.
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Once Hunt finally made it to bed, she struggled to get comfortable.
“I should have known then that something was wrong,” she said.
Each time the wind picked up, her contractions would pick up, too. She started to get nervous.
Hunt had been warned that changes in barometric pressure during the storm might speed up her pregnancy. Though not all health professionals endorse this old wives’ tale, several studies suggest that hurricanes might induce labor. Hunt didn’t buy it, though.
“I was not listening at all. Wasn’t expecting that,” she said. “But I was trying to hold him in as long as I possibly could until the storm passed, and he had other plans.”
Once her water broke, reality set in. “‘Oh my gosh,” she told herself. “‘I’m about to be a mom.’”
Hunt, her mother, father and brother all piled into the car and rushed to Navicent Health in Macon, arriving just after 6 a.m.
At 6:44 a.m., baby Braylon was born.
“It was just overwhelming,” the new mother said. “I was just basically in shock that I am a mom now and my son is actually here. And I just couldn’t believe that I did it naturally.”
Braylon’s father, Ray Clark, was catching his last few hours of sleep before work when he got the call that his son was on the way. He was in shock.
But Clark immediately hopped in the car, let his manager know he wouldn’t be at work that morning, and made it to the hospital just in time to meet his first child. When he held Braylon for the first time, Clark was at a loss for words.
“Just holding him, looking at him. Just knowing that, you know, it’s me that’s right there. I have a son,” Clark said. “A lot of emotions at one time.”
Hunt can’t stop staring into her newborn’s big, gray eyes.
“Looking in his eyes is pretty much heaven right now,” she said.
If it hadn’t been for the hurricane, Hunt doesn’t think she would have delivered early. But in spite of the chaotic circumstances, she and Clark managed to stay fairly calm.
Clark said his training from his two years in the Marine Corps helped him keep his bearings.
“Everything played out like it was supposed to,” he said.
Now, Hunt and Clark are excited to bring their baby home and start the next chapter.
As Braylon, just 5 pounds and 13 ounces, snoozed peacefully in his bassinet Thursday afternoon, Clark could recognize a bit of himself in his son. Both are deep sleepers, he said with a laugh.
“He can sleep through almost anything,” Clark said. “I think if a second Michael came through, he’d probably sleep through that, too.”
Samantha Max is a Report for America corps member and reports for The Telegraph with support from the News/CoLab at Arizona State University. Follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/smax1996 and on Twitter @samanthaellimax. Learn more about Report for America at www.reportforamerica.org.