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Mom-to-be: Start shoveling, the baby's coming

Written by Angie Mason/York Daily Record | Jan 26, 2016 10:03 AM
snow_baby_2016_kristin_stowell.jpg

With her husband Sean looking on in the background, Kristin Stowell, of Lower Windsor Township, holds onto their newborn son, Axel, in their room at York Hospital on Monday. The family had planned to have their baby in Lancaster, but the weekend storm forced them to deliver in York.(Photo: Jason Plotkin,York Daily Record)

(Undated) -- Around 4 a.m. Sunday, Kristin Stowell told her husband Sean that he'd better start shoveling.

Little Axel Blake Stowell was making it clear, he was going to enter the world soon.

Kristin had planned to deliver the baby, due Feb. 1, at BirthCare, a midwives center in Lancaster County. But given the storm and the length of the drive there from their home in Lower Windsor Township, it was decided that it would be safer to head to York Hospital.

Sean, along with Axel's big brother, Jared Elamri, set to work shoveling out the family farm, which sits on a lane 1/4 mile long. After a few hours, neighbor Andy Ramos and his son arrived to help plow the drive. Kristin made egg sandwiches, cleaned up the house, and took a bath, not wanting to head to the hospital too soon.

When her contractions were five minutes apart, Kristin called Sean, who was still helping a neighbor dig out. Her water broke. Contractions quickened. By the time they arrived at the hospital, the baby was coming.

Sean wishes he'd gotten the name of the woman who pushed Kristin's wheelchair to delivery.

"She was running," he said.

Axel, 7 pounds 8.6 ounces and 19.5 inches, was born at 6:49 p.m., just seven minutes after the Stowells arrived at the hospital.

He was one of 12 babies born at York Hospital between the start of the storm Friday and Sunday evening. The hospital was kept humming during the storm, which dumped more than two feet of snow on the county, by staffers camped out for the duration.

Patricia Clayton, a registered nurse in maternity, arrived Friday night for her Saturday morning shift, which started at 6:30. She, like 400-some other staffers, slept at the hospital since. Clayton and Janelle Cole, another registered nurse in maternity, were getting ready to head home for the first time Monday afternoon.

Once you get to work during such a storm, you stay, Cole said.

In addition to the pregnant mothers, new moms, babies and surgical patients, there were also patients discharged during the storm who couldn't get home and still needed some care. The nurses would rotate to relieve one another and slept when they could.

"You just do it," she said.

She and Cole still had smiles Monday afternoon, after days without being home. They were quick to credit others at the hospital for working together to weather the storm.

"We keep each other going," Cole said.

The cafeteria worked to provide meals, not only for patients, but for staff members, too, they said. Some other employees helped serve. Nurses brought food to share.

"When you know you're going to be here ... you make the best of it," Cole said.

Nurses made snowflake decorations for the newborns. One adorned Axel's bassinet.

Kristin said Axel will one day hear the story of his post-storm birth.

"Everybody jinxed us and told us he was coming during the snowstorm," she said.

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