Just after midnight Friday, Stefanie and Preston Kight of Fort Myers, Florida, with their 13-month-old son, Keller, and two dogs began what they thought would be a nine-hour trip to Sumter to escape Hurricane Irma's landfall. It took them 13 hours instead.
Stefanie, 39 weeks pregnant at the time, had only one thing going through her mind the entire drive: "When are we going to get there?"
Her greatest fear was being stuck on the side of the road and going into labor in the heavy evacuation traffic.
The Kights, who are originally from Sumter, have been living in Fort Myers for the past four years. The drive to their hometown was scary, but they didn't have to worry about delivering a baby with unknown physicians. When they got to Sumter, they were able to find comfort with a doctor they already knew and trusted.
They had been down this road before and had received excellent care. While visiting family during Christmas 2014, Stefanie began to experience severe pain in her abdomen. Dr. Triz Smith at Sumter OB/GYN, a Palmetto Health-USC Medical Group practice, discovered that the pain was because of an ectopic pregnancy. Smith prepared her for surgery with Dr. Thomas Hepfer, now retired.
Stefanie's mom, Susan Cotton, who was visiting with her daughter Monday afternoon, said, "They were so impressed with (Smith) then and appreciative of the way that he handled that with them. So, it was God's way of preparing for this - someone they were familiar and comfortable with."
As Irma, then downgraded to a tropical storm, moved over Sumter on Monday, Stefanie was in labor at Palmetto Health Tuomey. She gave birth to a healthy son, Calden, at 1:26 p.m.
"Things turned out differently for us than they could have," Preston said. "We were expecting a Category 5 storm to hit Fort Myers; that turned out to not be true. We were a little unsure what was going to happen with this (delivery), and it turned out we had doctors here that were willing to take us in. We had an easy, uneventful delivery. Things turned out perfect!"
They even got great news on their home in Florida, despite Fort Myers being in the path of the storm.
When asked if Sumter OB/GYN would be a part of future pregnancies, Preston laughed and said, "probably," and Stefanie quickly chimed in, "I don't think a hurricane will be a part of it ... hopefully not!"
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