Last week, an Ohio hospital transformed into a full-service wedding hall for a pregnant patient's special day. Nurses became wedding planners, patients provided bridal accessories, and the gift shop catered the whole affair. Just hours later, the bride became a patient again when the staff delivered her baby.
It wasn't every bride's fantasy venue, but for Cynthia Reese it was perfect.
"Everything went so well with the wedding, that the baby wanted to come see it too," joked the exhausted new mom during a phone interview with Yahoo! Shine.
Reese, 27, was seven months pregnant last Monday when her water broke.
"I was mopping up the floor at work when it happened," says the Aeropostale sales assistant. "It was really terrifying."
She immediately checked in to Akron General Medical Center for fetal monitoring as doctors tried to slow down her contractions. She was put on bedrest and checked into the hospital for the duration of her pregnancy. The biggest concern for Reese and her fiancé Michael Bof was having a healthy baby. But the early delivery also meant they wouldn't be married as they'd hoped when the baby arrived.
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"We couldn't afford anything so we were just going to go to the court before the baby came, and make it official," says Reese, who discovered she was pregnant three weeks after getting engaged. "I just wanted to be married."
Since Reese couldn't make it to court, Bof brought the judge to his bride, and coordinated with the hospital to hold a brief ceremony in the on-site chapel. It was supposed to be a low-key thing, until staff at the hospital stepped it up a notch.
"All the nurses on floor that helped me with the wedding," says Reese. "As soon as my one nurse, Melody, found out I was going to wear my hospital gown to the ceremony, she was like 'Oh no girl.'"
"I thought about doing something long with a train, but the sheet was too thin," senior nurse tech Melody White told the Akron Beacon Journal. Using safety pins she fashioned a white sheet into a toga and wrapped a blue vitals monitor belt around her waist for a sash. Another patient on the floor offered up some baby's breath, from her own flower arrangement, for the bride's hairpiece.
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Meanwhile, the dietary department kicked in some brownies as a cake. The gift shop donated chips and dip, and provided decorations for the reception in Reese's room. One of the nurses found a bridal cake-topper in the giftshop. Someone in the medial photography department was called into be the wedding photographer. A visitor even played the Wedding March on the lobby piano as the bride was wheeled into the chapel.
"I can't believe I didn't have to pay for a wedding," says the astonished bride.
The next day, it was back business when the new bride became a new mom. Michael Frederick Bof II was born on Thursday, weighing in at 4 pounds, 12 ounces. "He came out crying, which we didn't expect-it was a miracle," says Reese.
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Because of his early arrival, little Michael is staying on at Akron General for the next two to three weeks. The newlyweds are spending most of their time in the hospital with their newborn. Unfortunately, Akron General doesn't do honeymoon packages. "We'd like to take a real honeymoon down the road, but we've got a little guy now," says Reese. "You know how life is."
For now, her only post-wedding plan involves finding place in her closet for her bed-sheet bridal gown.
"I'm totally going to keep it," she says. "It's the cheapest wedding dress ever made."