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Jewell Cardwell: Unscheduled wedding, birth make for eventful time

By Jewell Cardwell
Beacon Journal columnist

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Mom-to-be Cynthia Reese and Michael Bof make their way back to Cynthia's hospital room under the watchful eye of Cathy Pastor, RN, after they exchanged vows on Thursday November, 7, 2012 at Akron General Medical Center. Reese was admitted to the hospital with a fetal monitor Wednesday and her fiance, Michael Bof, arranged for them to be married Thursday in her room. The staff went into overdrive trying to make it special even fashioning a wedding gown out of a sheet and making arrangements so they could get married in the hospital chapel. (Mark Riggs/Akron General Hospital)

A funny thing happened Friday morning as I was preparing to interview an Akron General Medical Center patient.

She went into labor.

The story began a day earlier, much of it shared by Amy Kilgore, manager of AGMC’s internal communications.

Cynthia Reese, in the hospital for fetal monitoring, received a surprise Wednesday from her fiance, Michael Bof: “He arranged for them to be married Thursday in the hospital. His plan was to bring in an official to perform a quiet ceremony in the patient’s room. But the nursing staff wanted this day to be special for their patient.”

“The staff worked very hard, and went above and beyond to make this a wonderful experience for this couple,” Kilgore continued.

“They called dietary, who graciously sent up brownies along with a congratulatory note, and purchased flowers from the gift shop. The senior tech fashioned a wedding gown with a clean white sheet, and another patient on the floor overheard the hustle and bustle and donated her baby’s breath [from her own flower arrangement] for the bride to wear in her hair. They made sure that she had ‘something borrowed, something blue, something old and something new.’ …

“The gift shop donated bags of potato chips and dip for the ‘reception’ party. They decorated the patient’s room for the event, and called medical photography who agreed to come and take pictures for the couple.”

Cynthia is 27 and a native of Mantua Township; Michael is 29 and a native of Stow, where they live. He’s a sales lead at Aeropostale, and she’s a sales assistant at a different location of the same store chain.

“As the bride was being wheeled down to the chapel, a visitor who was playing the piano in the lobby quickly found the music for the Wedding March so she could play it for them,” Kilgore continued. “Another visitor, who saw the bride adjusting her hair, came over and used her own hairpins to fix it up for her … They had a lovely ceremony in the chapel, and afterwards the nurses attached a ‘just married’ sign to the back of the wheelchair as they returned to her room, which the staff had fixed up for the reception. The newlyweds and their visitors had a wonderful time celebrating.”

Obviously, so did Baby. Michael Frederick Bof II arrived a few hours after my scheduled interview. He weighed in at 4 pounds, 12 ounces and was 17½ inches long.

Mom, understandably, was still resting.

Melody White, a senior tech, attended to Cynthia, who was admitted Wednesday and ordered on bed rest until she delivered. White had even more of the story to share:

“They had planned to get married before she delivered. In other words, she didn’t expect to be here,” White said, talking with the permission of the bride and the groom.

“Anyway, when I came in her room at 8 a.m. to check her vitals she told me she was getting married today. I immediately asked ‘What? How? You’re here.’

“Well, he’s coming with a preacher and we’re doing it in the room,” White said Cynthia told her.

“So we got her in the shower. Then asked her what she was going to be getting married in. When she said her sweats, the nurse, Cathy Pastor, and I thought, ‘oh, no.’ ”

White, possessed with a creativity gene, got busy fashioning a wedding gown out of what was handy: a white bedsheet.

“I thought about doing something long with a train, but the sheet was too thin,” said White, who quickly changed it to a toga look, using safety pins to keep it together and improvising with a monitor belt, which served both as a sash and the “something blue.”

White, an instant, low-budget wedding planner, raced to the gift shop for “finds” to enhance the ceremony. In addition to chips and dip, she found a small bride and groom figurine. “What are the odds they would have something like that in the gift shop?” she teased.

Turned out time was on their side, as the groom phoned to say he would be late. So Melody White, Cathy Pastor and others were able to make the deadline.

Since the bride-to-be/mom-to-be was on bed rest, she had to get special permission to go around the corner to the chapel for 15 minutes to get married.

The ceremony was captured on video by the unit clerk.

“It was like it turned into this movie,” White marveled.

Of course, the bride and groom had the starring roles. But the supporting cast — hospital staff, other patients, friends and visitors — was phenomenal.

“The hospital had a jewelry sale in the main lobby which is where the groom purchased the rings … Soon everyone was catching on and clapping and watching,” said White. “It was so much fun! That’s what we wanted for her.”

This is the part of nursing — that extra giving — you seldom see or hear about.

Yet quietly, it still goes on.

Jewell Cardwell can be reached at 330-996-3567 or