'Hurricane Polster' twins born early at Baptist downtown as Matthew approached

Beth Cravey
Anthony Polster and his newborn twins, were born prematurely at Baptist Medical Center in Jacksonville as Hurricane Matthew approached. “Hurricane Polsters have arrived,” announced new mother Jessica Polster’s Facebook page Thursday, Oct. 6. (Provided by Baptist Health)

Neither one of them are named Matthew.

But the Polster twins, born prematurely Thursday afternoon at Baptist Medical Center in Jacksonville as Hurricane Matthew approached Northeast Florida, will certainly have a story to tell about how their mother started having contractions with a Category 4 storm threatening.

“Hurricane Polsters have arrived,” announced new mother Jessica Polster’s Facebook page.

Harper Anne, born at 5:25 p.m., weighs 5 pounds and 5 ounces, while her brother Joseph Anthony, who arrived at 5:26 p.m., is a bit smaller, at 4 pounds. Their names were already picked out; Harper’s middle name is after Jessica Polster’s grandmother, the late Times-Union writer Ann Hyman.

“We didn’t think we would wake up Thursday … [and have] two babies and be in the midst of a hurricane,” said Polster, 26, a teacher at a private elementary school. “But this was the best spot for the babies.”

She and her husband, Anthony, 34, who live about 10 minutes from Baptist, said they planned to stay at home during the storm. Her due date was not until Oct. 19. But during a routine appointment Thursday morning, her obstetrician determined that labor was under way.

They hoped it was a false alarm — as had happened before and is common with twins, she said — and they would be sent home. They had made no hurricane preparations: their dog was still at home, planters were still outside.

But this time, the babies were really on their way. So Anthony Polster hurried home, got their bags, brought the plants, left the dog with friends and hurried back to the hospital. A few hours later, the twins were delivered via cesarean section because both were in the breech position.

That night, Baptist’s neonatal intensive care unit was evacuated to higher floors at adjoining Wolfson Children’s Hospital.Polster, athletic director at Assumption Catholic School in Jacksonville, quickly began giving the twins pep talks, particularly when his newborn son would not eat for his nurse.

“I can see that they will both be my athletes some day,” he said.

The couple had been in such a personal whirlwind they barely noticed Matthew.

“It was sort of surreal,” Polster said.

His wife agreed.

“It’s almost like it [the storm] happened in a different place and you’re watching it on TV,” she said.

She hopes to leave the hospital Monday, but the twins will remain there until they get a little bigger, she said.

Beth Reese Cravey:(904) 359-4109