When MaryBeth Ziegler and her fiancé J.B. Peterson went for a walk in the snow on Monday night in Eugene, they hoped their baby due in a week would wait until after the snowstorm to be born.
The baby had other ideas.
Little did Ziegler and Peterson know that Bradley Byron “Snowmageddon” Peterson would make his arrival early Tuesday morning, forcing the two parents to brave one of the worst snow events in history for a white-knuckled trip to nearby PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend in Springfield.
That was nothing compared to what faced Ziegler’s parents, Mary-Christine and David VanDermark, of Winston. Once they learned of the imminent birth of their second grandson, the two would spend almost six hours driving from Winston to Springfield — a trip that takes a little more than an hour in the best of conditions.
Ziegler remembers when it became clear the birth was happening that night.
“We were actually in the middle of making dinner when my water broke,” Ziegler said. “We just went on a long walk in the snow before that — I think that’s what caused it. We kept hoping it wasn’t going to happen that night but we knew if it did happen, everything would end up working out. We were hoping it would last another week, but it was just his time I guess.”
The VanDermarks were notified that Ziegler and her fiancé were headed for the hospital.
Despite the snowy conditions, the decision was clear for the VanDermarks.
“She wasn’t due until March 6, so we weren’t too concerned,” Mary-Christine VanDermark said. “She calls me at 9:30 at night and says ‘Mom, my water broke.’ We looked at the weather and I said ‘I’m not missing my grandson’s birth.’”
An already slow drive for the VanDermarks became worse when they encountered a car accident near Cottage Grove, delaying them three more hours.
While David drove, Mary-Christine VanDermark worked the phone.
“I called her and told her I was trying to hold the baby in and I was trying to take my time waiting for her,” Ziegler said. “I was worried because I hadn’t heard from her since like 2 o’clock in the morning. We were really hoping to be able to have her in the room for the delivery. She got there right in time. It happened so early, we didn’t think she was going to make it on time.”
The soon-to-be grandparents for the second time arrived at the parking lot when Ziegler called her mother and pregnancy coach for the last time. Mary-Christine VanDermark rushed inside, where less than 25 minutes later, her second grandson was born 5:27 a.m. Tuesday, weighing 8 pounds, 5 ounces.
“They call him little baby Snowmageddon because he just couldn’t wait,” Mary-Christine VanDermark said. “We expected him to be a little late. We had no clue.”
Ziegler is the VanDermarks’ only daughter out of five children and the second to give them a grandchild. The other grandchild lives in California.
“I wanted her support and my fiancé’s support,” Ziegler said. “I thought it would make me feel more comfortable. She’s been through it before because I have four brothers so I thought it would make me feel better to have them both there.”
VanDermark said the hospital had full power the whole time and her 15-year-old son cleaned their house and made cookies, breakfast and lunch while they were gone.
“We packed our bags with snow clothes and food just to be prepared,” VanDermark. “It was just so amazing. Her reaction, his reaction, baby’s first cry — everyone should get a chance to see that.”