She can chuckle about it now, but it was no laughing matter at the time. Penny Edwards Wallace was nearing the end of her full-term pregnancy when the infamous blizzard of 1978 struck her Anderson, Indiana, home.
Those who lived in the region during that time seem to remember exactly where they were and how the paralyzing blizzard played into their lives.
People have stories of being stuck in vehicles, working in search and rescue, and, like Wallace, giving birth in perilous circumstances.
Forty years later, a delighted Wallace recalled her crazy birth story with her now 40-year-old “blizzard baby,” Janette, by her side.
It was Jan. 26, 1978 when Wallace phoned her doctor, fearfully telling him she was in labor and trapped inside her house.
“I can’t get out,” Wallace remembers her doctor saying. “Well, I can’t get out, either!” Wallace exclaimed as the doctor told her to dial 911.
Wallace was home with a handful of family members, including her husband.
Firefighters were racing to the scene as her husband attempted to shovel some sort of pathway to the front door, but the weather was fighting them at every turn.
In the end, it took a dump truck to plow through all the snow so they could reach Wallace’s front yard. When the firefighters made it inside, Wallace was moments from giving birth in her bedroom.
Tension filled the room when firefighters realized Wallace’s baby was breech. If either mother or baby had complications during the delivery, precious time would be lost trying to drive to a hospital in a paralyzed, frozen city.
Handling the breech birth with delicacy and intense patience, Wallace and the firemen worked together to safely bring baby Janette into the world.
Wallace remembers being moved to a gurney and transported outside to the ambulance.
The snow was piled so high that the firemen had to heave the gurney high into the air to keep Wallace out of the snow.
She and baby Janette did reach the hospital, where the miracle girl was soon dubbed the “blizzard baby.”
Janette, now a nurse, never understood the reason for her nickname as a child. And now, looking back, she’s in awe of her mother’s strength and knows how fortunate both are to be alive.
Neither woman is daunted by the thought of surviving another blizzard. “If I can go through all of that, I’ve got it now,” Wallace laughed.
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