By Charlet Estes
Mothers-to-be have a million things on their minds, not the least of which is the weather. A twenty-minute trip to Salem can easily double or triple during a storm and if there is sleet or ice, you may be better off taking your chances at home.
That’s nearly what happened during the winter of 1997 when then 23-year-old Michelle Meeker went into labor while staying with her parents in Franklin, Arkansas. With a heavy layer of ice covering everything in the area, the ambulance and emergency crew from Fulton Cou
nty were unable to negotiate the roads.
Michelle and her unborn baby were already a high-risk for a short labor and complications. Only three weeks before the pair had been involved in a traumatic accident after doctors had stopped Michelle’s premature labor long enough to send her to a hospital in Little Rock. Shortly after it left Salem, the ambulance with it’s cargo of mother, unborn baby and dad was involved in an accident which left the driver unconscious and flung Michelle, still strapped to a gurney, into the cab of the
Meeker was understandably uneasy about taking another ride in an emergency vehicle, especially since RN Alice Thomas, who had been dispatched to Michelle’s aide, was stuck in a ditch with the Fulton County crew. When an ambulance from Horseshoe Bend arrived, Michelle insisted that Thomas be with her. Dean Batterton, who lived nearby volunteered to use his four-wheel-drive to pick up Thomas. Meanwhile, it was becoming more and more apparent the baby wouldn’t wait. Practical Nurses Shirley Richardson and Marilyn Batterton, both of Franklin, along with the entire neighborhood, began preparing for an old-fashioned home delivery.
Fortunately, they were wrong. Maddlyn Michelle Meeker did wait, long enough for Nurse Thomas to arrive and for the trip to the medical center. At 1:16 p.m. that afternoon, just twenty minutes after her arrival at the hospital, Michelle gave birth to her first child, a healthy baby girBad Weather Birthday Girl celebrates Sweet 16l, five pounds, four ounces.
Sixteen years later, Michelle and Clint Meeker are still grateful to friends, neighbors and the communities of Franklin, Horseshoe Bend and Salem for their assistance in bringing this little miracle into the world. On Sunday, January 13, a vibrant young lady with tawny hair, wearing a lavender “I’m the birthday girl” ribbon greeted guests at the Franklin Community Center. Surrounded by family and the community who had been there for her and her parents when they needed them, Maddlyn blew out the candles on her purple Sweet 16 cake and visited with friends from her old Izard County neighborhood.
Maddlyn, who was an ICC student through the ninth grade and started taking online courses through Ozarka College at age 14 is currently home-schooled along with her 13-year-old sister and seven-year-old brother. The family now lives in Lawrence County where Maddlyn attends two courses per semester at Williams Baptist College. The high school junior hopes to be a pediatrician in the future and to be there for babies and young children in need just as others were there for her on an icy day 16 years ago.