Parents celebrate birth of premature twins during Hurricane Matthew

Credit: Baptist Health

A Florida couple is celebrating the arrival of twins, a boy and girl, who were born on Thursday as Hurricane Matthew bore down on the Atlantic coast of Florida.

Anthony and Jessica Polster, of Jacksonville, Florida, had planned on riding out the storm in their home near their doctors at Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville. But during a routine check-up on Thursday morning, Jessica Polster's doctor said that she was in labor at 35 weeks pregnant and that the babies were on their way, no matter the weather.

"I wasn't super prepared," Anthony Polster told ABC News.


Polster, who works as an athletics coach in Jacksonville, said he quickly drove home to prep the house for the storm, pack his own overnight bag and send the couple's dog to a neighbor's home. "At that time, it was starting to rain," he said.

At the hospital, Jessica Polster said the medical staff ultimately decided it would be safer for the new mom to give birth via c-section, since both infants were in the breech position.

"Harper was born at 5:25 p.m. and JP was born at 5:26," Anthony Polster said of the quick delivery. While both babies were doing well, they were admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit since they were born early at 35 weeks.

Just a few hours later, hospital administrators made the decision to evacuate the hospital NICU and move the patients to the adjoining Wolfson Children's Hospital.

"It was around 9:30 p.m. or 10 p.m. last night," Anthony Polster recalled. "Because we were on sea level at the 2nd floor ... they recommended that anyone in the NICU be moved to Wolfson."

NICU nurses and other medical staff were able to move all the children in bassinets to the other hospital on higher ground via interior walkways.

"For the safety of babies, we went ahead and evacuated the unit and dispersed them through another part of the hospital where they would be safer," said Katrina Bloom, a critical care nurse at Wolfson Children’s Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. With two to three NICU patients in a room "we can keep them as much together as possible."

The new hospital has also given the new parents a front-row view to the hurricane that is now just off the coast of Jacksonville, but they're not really paying much attention to the hurricane.

"Honestly, I haven't even noticed the storm," Jessica Polster said. "We're so preoccupied. ... It's kind of like something we're watching on TV and not experiencing it."