McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

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May 30, 2013

Mom delivered baby as tornado struck

MOORE, Okla. — Shayla Taylor's second child was moments from birth as an EF-5 tornado bore down on Moore Medical Center on Monday afternoon.

Her labor was too far along to move her to safety with the rest of those in the hospital, her nurses decided. So as her husband, Jerome, and their 4-year-old son, Shaiden, went downstairs with the others, she and four nurses stayed upstairs and braced for the worst.

The power went out, and electrical outlets in the hallway weren’t working from the medical center’s generators. So the nurses moved her to an operating room, closer to a live outlet. That's where they decided to ride out the storm.

“They got towels out of the warmer and piled them on top of me around the bed, and then they all just ducked down around me," said Taylor.

Then the tornado hit the building.

“I could feel the floor shake, and I looked up and I saw the ceiling shake, and the insulation starting to fall down,” she said.

“By that time, I closed my eyes so stuff wouldn’t get in them. I just turned my head, and I heard hail falling. And me and the nurses were just sitting there praying.”

When she opened her eyes, Shayla saw the operating room wall was gone. She could see Interstate 35. But she and the nurses ducking beneath her bed - Barbara Brand, Cindy Popejoy, Bonny Stephens and Alyson Heeke - were all safe.

Taylor was still having strong contractions. Her husband and the nurses managed to get her out of the badly damaged medical center and into an ambulance, which took her to HealthPlex Hospital in nearby Norman. There she gave birth to a healthy, 8-pound, 3-ounce boy.

“His name is Braeden Immanuel,” she said. “I had the name picked out for months, but Immanuel actually means, ‘God is with us.’”

His nickname, she said, is “Twister.”

Two other babies were born at the Moore Medical Center on Monday. After the tornado, all of the mothers and newborns were transferred to the HealthPlex in Norman.

“There’s something inherent in nurses that you don’t think about yourself,” said Brand. “You take care of your patients because that’s just what you are.”

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Hannah Cruz writes for The Norman, Okla., Transcript.

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