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First-Time Mom Gave Birth to Baby as Hurricane Ian Hit Florida: 'We Need to Do This Right Now'

Baby Born During Hurricane Ian.  Credit: Matthew Mahr
Baby Born During Hurricane Ian. Credit: Matthew Mahr

Matthew Mahr Amanda and Matthew Mahr with George

Amanda and Matthew Mahr were excited about the arrival of their first baby, but Hurricane Ian radically changed the course of their birthing experience.

On Tuesday, four days after their son's due date, the couple learned Amanda would need a C-section following an ultrasound showing low fluid levels. Concerned, their doctor asked the couple to go to the Cape Coral Hospital through the emergency room for admission that night for close monitoring.

With Hurricane Ian already on its path of destruction, the couple quickly left their home and drove through gusty winds and rain already coming down. Once at the hospital, the Mahrs understood that Amanda would most likely have the C-section after the hurricane passed.

But, when the storm shifted paths early Wednesday morning and bore right towards Cape Coral, their doctor entered their room and said, "We're getting a direct hit. We need to do this right now," Amanda, 36, tells PEOPLE.

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Baby Born During Hurricane Ian.  Credit: Matthew Mahr
Baby Born During Hurricane Ian. Credit: Matthew Mahr

Matthew Mahr Amanda Mahr and George

RELATED: See Photos of Hurricane Ian's Path as Historic Storm Moves from Florida to South Carolina

"It was so terrifying, very stressful and scary," she says. "We had literally, I think, 17 minutes from the time we woke up until they started wheeling me into the OR."

At 8:49 AM, George Bentley Mahr was born, weighing 10 pounds, 6 ounces, with a full head of dark hair.

"We both looked at each other and almost like time itself stopped," says Matthew, 37. "We smiled, and we both started crying."

The couple later returned to their birthing suite with George as the lights began to flicker. By about 2:30 p.m., and with the hurricane's winds whipping up to 150 m.p.h., the Mahrs were moved into the hallway with other new parents and expectant moms, to get away from the rooms' windows that could possibly shatter.

Baby Born During Hurricane Ian.  Credit: Matthew Mahr
Baby Born During Hurricane Ian. Credit: Matthew Mahr

Matthew Mahr The Mahrs in the hallway of the hospital

From the hallway, the Mahrs could hear the ferocity of the storm, "like sheet metal was being hit against the building," says Matthew. "You just hear debris. It was one of those things that it was almost worse just hearing it, more terrifying not knowing what was happening than seeing it happen."

The pair both worried about their apartment in Cape Coral, their one-year-old cat, Mazikeen, who they had to leave behind in the rush to get to the hospital, and Amanda's mom alone in her Fort Myers house.

"I was really stressed, and it was just a whirlwind of emotions on top of giving birth," says Amanda, who has her own gourmet cupcake company. "They talk about how giving birth takes a toll on your emotions and on your hormones and your body."

RELATED: 21-Year-Old Relives Hurricane Ian Pushing Her Grandpa's Home 'Towards Us' in Flood: 'I Lost Everything'

Baby Born During Hurricane Ian.  Credit: Matthew Mahr
Baby Born During Hurricane Ian. Credit: Matthew Mahr

Matthew Mahr Amanda Mahr and George

"And so to have the whole hurricane going on top of that was just almost more than I could handle," she continues. "I just took it minute-by-minute and just focused on the baby and learning how to breastfeed."

By 9 p.m., the couple and George were back in their room. Unlike some other area hospitals that sustained damage, the facility remained intact.

The next day, Matthew drove through Cape Coral to check on their home. "It literally looked like a monster truck rally had gone through the entire neighborhood," he says of poles on top of other poles, downed wires and street signs and billboards seemingly strewn everywhere.

Baby Born During Hurricane Ian.  Credit: Matthew Mahr
Baby Born During Hurricane Ian. Credit: Matthew Mahr

Matthew Mahr George Mahr

Two windows of the Mahrs' apartment had shattered, but Matthew found Mizakeen safe, though scared, hiding beneath the crib in George's newly-fashioned nursery. The rest of their home was in good shape.

After leaving the hospital on Friday, the couple and George settled in with Amanda's mother at her Fort Myers house.

As of Saturday, their area remained without power — and they had no air conditioning in their house. With temperatures hitting 87 degrees, Amanda took a brief refuge from the heat in her car, which was also being used as a makeshift charging station.

"I still kind of have a little bit of PTSD maybe," she says, speaking to PEOPLE from the car. "Just from the whole thing. I just feel very stressed. My brain is so mushed between becoming a new mom and the hurricane and everything."

RELATED: Hurricane Ian's Death Toll Climbs to 65 in Florida, as 4 Deaths Reported in North Carolina

Still, the Fort Myers native, who grieves for the devastation around her, adds: "I don't feel like I can feel bad for myself because there's so much loss."

"We are so lucky" she continues. "We have the cutest baby and he's so chunky and he has a head full of hair. We're doing our best and just taking it one minute at a time."

Since Hurricane Ian was projected to hit in the timeframe of Amanda giving birth, the couple were inundated with questions asking if Ian would be added to their son's name.

"People were like, 'You should change his middle name to Ian,' or, 'You should add Ian in,' " she says. "And I'm like, 'I would rather never hear that name again.' We're calling him Hurricane George."