While the Moore Medical Center crumbled around her on Monday afternoon, Shay-la Taylor was in labor with her second baby boy.
The mom-to-be knew about the severe weather watch as she checked into the hospital to be induced at 9 a.m. that morning, but says she wasn’t really nervous. “We’re used to tornadoes and sirens,” the 25-year-old mom told HuffPost in a phone interview. “If you freaked out every time you heard a siren, you’d have an anxiety attack every May in Oklahoma.”
Her doctors weren’t as calm about the forecast. They wanted to send her home and reschedule. At 40 weeks and change, Taylor’s body had other plans though. She had already started having contractions.
By 2:30 p.m., when there was still no baby, hospital staff came into her room and said that if the tornado did come their way, they would have to take her husband Jerome and 4-year-old son Shaiden to seek cover on another floor.
When that happened about a half hour later, Taylor was also moved -- out of Labor and Delivery to an operating room with a group of four nurses. Since they couldn’t watch television, the mom-to-be started tracking the tornado with an app on her phone. “I knew it was headed for the hospital but just didn’t know it would be a direct hit,” she explained.
At 3:30 p.m., the tornado touched down, flattening the building. Only 25 other patients and staff were left in the hospital. Taylor recalled what it felt like in those moments:
“The floor was shaking like an earthquake and then I saw the ceiling shaking too. You could see insulation starting to fall. Me and two of the nurses were all just holding hands and praying. My eyes were closed, but you could kind of see daylight. And I opened my eyes and I could see out the wall.”
Taylor was 9 centimeters dilated and having intense contractions despite one of the nurses giving her a shot to slow things down. She requested a hand Doppler to monitor the baby's heart. And she called her mother, who was with Jerome and Shaiden in the hospital's basement cafeteria to make sure her family was safe, which they were.
Still in labor, the medical team needed to find a way to move Taylor to a new hospital. Jerome made his way to them and helped carry his wife all the way to an ambulance that could drive her from Moore to the closest facility in operation -- Norman Regional HealthPlex.
Thirteen hours and one massive tornado after her contractions started, Taylor’s baby boy was born via caesarian section. at 7:25 p.m. on Monday evening. He weighed 8 pounds 3 ounces.
The Taylors named the baby Braeden Immanuel which means “God Is With Us.” Even though she’d chosen the name months earlier, Taylor said, “It definitely fits.”
As for Braeden’s big brother, Taylor says Shaiden didn't really understand what was going on so was never scared. The family’s home is intact, along with his toys, after all. The boy did, however, make a request for Mom to tell God not to make any more tornadoes because “He broke the hospital.”
Shay-la and Jerome Taylor with their sons Shaiden and Braeden Immanuel.