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'True Bobcat'

By JR Ortega
Jan. 3, 2011 at 5:01 p.m.
Updated Jan. 2, 2011 at 7:03 p.m.

Manuel Obaya, almost 2 weeks old, is the first baby born at the Refugio Memorial Hospital in 10 years. Manuel weighed seven pounds and was 20 inches long and was immediately put a hat made out of hospital blanket because of the lack of newborn supplies at the hospital.

REFUGIO - Manuel Obaya V is only 16 days old, but he already knows how to make an entrance.

The son of 27-year-olds Hope Zuniga and Manuel Obaya IV, of Refugio, was born Dec. 19 at Refugio County Memorial Hospital - the first baby delivered there in 10 years.

The county hospital stopped delivering babies in July 1973 because most expectant mothers were going to obstetricians in Beeville and Victoria at the time, said Lydia Schlabach, hospital administrative assistant.

But every so often, an expectant mother, like Zuniga, waddles into the county hospital's emergency room.

"They did a good job," said Zuniga, cradling Manuel in her arms.

The moments leading up to Manuel's birth were nothing short of panic-stricken.

Zuniga had awakened at 3 a.m. with contractions. The pains weren't too strong and they were erratic, so her husband, who works with tile design in Rockport, decided to go to work.

By the time he had gotten home at noon, contractions were steadily about five minutes apart, so they went to Christus Spohn Memorial Hospital in Beeville.

The hospital required the contractions to be five minutes apart for an hour for it to be considered full labor and Zuniga was only five minutes apart for 45 minutes.

Zuniga and Obaya were sent back to Refugio, being told that it was a false alarm.

Returning home that Dec. 19 evening, Obaya went to H-E-B to get some groceries while Zuniga rested at home.

When her husband got home an hour later, he didn't find Zuniga resting, but instead in full labor, with contractions two minutes apart.

"I just made them forget everything they knew," Zuniga said about what happened in room 3 just minutes before her son's birth at 8:47 p.m. "They panicked. I panicked."

Dr. Nathan Wright helped deliver Manuel.

Wright would have preferred to have a pediatrician on site to deliver the baby, but the delivery went well.

"It was unexpected. But she came in, and she needed to have him," Wright said.

After the delivery, Zuniga and Manuel were taken to Beeville for observation.

Both Zuniga and Manuel were home for Christmas.

The couple's other two children Faithlynn, 4 and Amberlynn, 3, don't yet understand the uniqueness of their baby brother's birth, but they have already welcomed him with open arms.

"I wanted a brother," said Amberlynn as she passed her little brother his pacifier.

Both daughters help Zuniga, now a stay at home mom, with the little things.

Though giving birth in Refugio wasn't planned, knowing her son is one of the few who can say they were born in town in recent history is amazing, Zuniga said.

"He's a true Bobcat," she said as she adjusted his red cotton hat.



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