ASHE COUNTY-Maggie McNeill doesn’t like to feel as if she is stranded or helpless and certainly doesn’t want to impart that feeling to anyone that relies on her.
As a mother of four small children, she also understands what it’s like to be shorthanded, so she also values help and commitments from others.
When it came time for McNeill to begin her commute to Ashe Memorial Hospital on Oct. 23 for her night shift in the birthing center, she became enveloped by those very same feelings of uncertainty.
“I had just picked up my son from Boone and I was on my way back when I crossed our low water bridge at 4 p.m. to get home,” said McNeil.
A quick moving storm system brought torrential downpours to the High Country that afternoon, so the McNeil family was cautiously observing the two small streams that encircle their Helton home. Low-water bridges are notoriously susceptible to flooding in the region and the family has been stranded at home due to the raging torrents before.
McNeil, who is a delivery nurse at the hospital, knows that absences at the hospital by delivery nurses can strain resources and make an already stressful environment all the more hectic.
“After I woke up for my shift, my husband said I wouldn’t believe how much it had rained. I said, ‘Oh no,’” said McNeil. “When I went to check on the bridge, it was fine.”
The relief would be short lived. When she looked outside 30 minutes later, McNeil’s heart sank. The bridge was underwater and her shift at the hospital would start soon. To exacerbate matters, McNeil had since learned that two babies were expected to be delivered that evening.
So, McNeil did what any other woman in distress would do. She called her Daddy.
After securing a ride to the hospital, McNeil made her way for the hillside and hoofed it up the mountain to reach N.C. 16, so she could catch her ride to work from her father.
And what was her husband’s response to her intrepid nature and fortitude?
“He said, ‘Ok,’’ said McNeil. “He knows not to argue with me. When I tell him I’m going to do something, there’s not much he can do about it.”
It wasn’t the first time that McNeil tried to wrestle with the bear that is Mother Nature. During a previous flood, she attempted a similar ascend, but was stopped by her husband because she was pregnant.
Her commitment to motherhood is, after all, why she became a birthing nurse.
“My ultimate dream was to become a mother and being a nurse plays into that because I get to be with other mama when they have their babies and I get to help them adjust,” she said. “It’s really cool to share that miracle with other people. It’s really a gift to experience all of that. It never gets old. Twelve years later, I still get excited.”
Reach Jesse Campbell at (336) 846-7164.
Maggie McNeill is one intrepid nurse.