BUFFALO - Snowed in and scrambling during a freak storm in November, Mary Ann Murphy predicted there would be another flurry of activity in, oh, about nine months, at the Buffalo hospital where she's in charge of maternity services.
Sure enough, a mini baby boom has begun and hospital officials say they expect to deliver about 250 babies before August is through, up from the usual 200 or so.
"Several months ago, I looked at our nurse manager and said: 'We better buy more cribs,'" Murphy said at Mercy Hospital in south Buffalo, where a jaw-dropping 7 feet of snow fell during the week before Thanksgiving.
The hospital serves the areas hardest hit by the Lake Erie-driven storm -- and it's seen weather-related peaks in births before.
"Nowhere to go, nothing to do," is how Jason and Stephanie Brueggeman describe that week, when it was so snowy that a village plow got stuck in front of their Lancaster home and the pile it had been pushing sat there for days. They welcomed daughter Grace Elizabeth this week, saying they're glad she came a little early and let them avoid the rush.
The nine-month mark of the storm is next week.
"The amazing thing is, Mary Ann usually does maybe six deliveries a day, on average," Mercy Hospital President and Chief Executive C.J. Urlaub said. "We've already had three days that we've had 14 and 16 deliveries."
A spokesman for Buffalo's Women & Children's Hospital said the staff there is anticipating a busy month as well.
Since the baby business is generally unpredictable, hospitals plan for its ebb and flow. Most members of Mercy's obstetrics staff are able to shift among units to accommodate needs, and they know where to put extra beds as patient rooms fill up, the officials said.
"We have contingencies," Murphy said. "And we have employed all of those contingencies in the past couple of weeks and we'll continue through the month of August."
As for the Brueggemans, there's no urge to nickname their baby "Stormy" or change the nursery color palette to white.
"It's already green and pink," the new mom said.