While what would become to 18 inches of snow blanketed the top of Saddle Mountain, Bradfield accepted that she wasn’t in false labor as she originally thought.
Her daughter, Madeline Gallaty, was 17 days early, her mother said.
“Of course, we know the blizzard was coming,” Bradfield said. “But I didn’t really worry about it much because she wasn’t due. In fact my sister worked at Redmond Regional Medical Center at the time and she arranged for me to go and stay overnight at Redmond just in case. I told her I didn’t need to. There wasn’t going to be any problem with it.”
With a 19-month-old daughter already at home, Bradfield wasn’t prepared to leave her child with a sitter, especially since she wasn’t expecting to go into labor just yet.
The snow began falling that Friday, she said, and soon there was nearly two feet of it, making the ground a stark white.
“I had been having contractions all afternoon and I thought it was false labor,” Bradfield said.
When it became apparent that Madeline was indeed on her way, Bradfield and Madeline’s father called Bradfield’s sister at Redmond, luckily, the phones were still working. Emergency responders began the trek to Saddle Mountain.
But two hours later, when EMS still hadn’t arrived, Bradfield picked up the receiver to a dead line.
“There wasn’t any way to check on where they were or how close they were to the house,” she said.
An icy excursion
“My memory was it took them about four hours to get from the hospital to the door,” Bradfield said.
The EMT rushed into the house, hurriedly asking questions and preparing to examine her while Bradfield was in the middle of a contraction.
“I was like, (she held her hand up) … I can’t talk right this minute,” she said. “Then it passed. He had his bag with him and I told him ‘I have long labors and I’m probably going to need a C-section so you don’t need to check me here, I need to go to the hospital.’”
Outside waiting was not the flashing lights of an ambulance as she expected, but an Army Humvee better equipped to make the trip up the icy, slippery mountain. The Army Reservists lifted Bradfield up into the vehicle where she clamored in and was sandwiched between the driver and Madeline’s dad.
“When we were going down the mountain, I realized why it took them so long,” she said. “They had come up the mountain with chain saws and they had actually cut trees and pulled them out of the way. I could see how many trees they’d actually cut and pulled to get up there. And it made sense then.”
Bradfield recalled how hard the driver had to steer the Humvee, and would elbow her in the stomach accidentally, fervently apologizing each time.
“It’s funny what you remember,” she said with a laugh. “Every time, he would look at me and say, ‘I’m so sorry’ and I’d say, ‘It’s OK! You’re just doing your job, just get me down the mountain. I just appreciate what you’re doing.’”
At the bottom of Saddle Mountain, the ambulance waited on Rockmart Road, Bradfield remembered.
“From there, I got in the ambulance, we made it to the hospital, and I had a C-section later that day,” she said.
Keep calm and breathe on
After 28 hours of labor and an unusual, little Madeline arrived Sunday, March 14, at Floyd Medical Center. But despite the circumstances of the birth, Bradfield said she wasn’t as upset as most would assume.
“I wasn’t really freaking out about it,” she said. “In hindsight, I got really nervous about what could have happened. But at the time, I knew they had somebody on the way. And I was actually thinking about a back up plan.”
While she was taking deep breaths through contractions — breaths she said probably helped keep her calm — she was formulating a Plan B in the event help didn’t come.
“There was an (obstetrician) that lived about half a mile from us,” she said. “I was going to send her brother, my 15-year-old stepson, to go get the OB and come back with him. I think I was in emergency mode and I don’t panic in emergency mode.”
Since Madeline’s birth, the mother and daughter said they get a kick out of the traditional news coverage that comes with each anniversary — and birthday. Bradfield recalled the initial media attention.
Madeline said while growing up, all her teachers throughout school knew her as the “blizzard baby,” which she thought was odd.
“It’s pretty cool when people ask me about it, it’s a fun story to tell,” the soon-to-be 20 year old said. “I feel bad for my mom, though. Sorry …”
“Nothing to be sorry about,” Bradfield said to her daughter. “It’s entertaining to look back on. It was an adventure.”