When she got pregnant with her first baby in 2008, Melonie Smith had a long talk with her husband Brad.
Both native Galvestonians, the couple then lived in Hillsborough, N.C., where Brad was an officer with the Durham Police Department. They talked about Melonie going home to Galveston as her due date drew near so the baby could be born on the island.
They wanted their baby to be a BOI.
BOI Melonie had her first BOI baby Harlyn Rose Smith at the University of Texas Medical Branch’s John Sealy Hospital in December 2008, just months after Hurricane Ike.
A little more than a year later, she had her second baby, Corbin Vey Smith, in Galveston as well. And on Wednesday, Sept. 7, she had her third baby, Paxton Boothe Smith, at UTMB. “It was really my husband who first brought up how important it was that the babies be BOIs,” Melonie said.
Brad is the only non-BOI in his family, which goes back seven generations on the island. His family moved briefly to Florida when his mother was pregnant with him, and he was born there. When he was still very young, the family moved back to Galveston and has been here ever since. Both his parents and both his siblings were born on the island.
During the 1900 Storm, Brad said his great-grandfather and six brothers all survived by climbing to the roof of their three-story home. Their family home at 19th Street and Avenue L was the only one on the block that survived the storm.
Melonie tells the story of how several of her Galveston ancestors almost boarded the fated last train out of Galveston on the day of the 1900 Storm. They ended up surviving because they decided to wait for the next train when one family member was late joining them at the station. (There was no next train.)
With her first two babies, Melonie had her prenatal care at home in Hillsborough and only came to Galveston to stay with her family as her due date grew near so she could deliver at UTMB. But for her third baby, she decided to have all her prenatal care at UTMB’s University Hospital OB/Gyn Clinic. She traveled to Galveston for all her monthly prenatal visits up until her 32nd week, at which time she began traveling to Galveston every two weeks.
“The prenatal services I received at UTMB had such a personal feel to them. The nurses and doctors made me feel very at ease with what I should expect from them. I truly enjoyed the process. I found it very easy to speak with them and build a wonderful rapport,” said Melonie.
Dr. Olga Swanson was Melonie’s prenatal doctor. Dr. Anna Rodriguez delivered Paxton. Nurse Christina Mares-Ramirez assisted during delivery and Nurses Jessica Haver and Rikki Jaramillo cared for Melonie post-partum. Dr. Patricia Beach (also Corbin’s doctor) was Paxton’s pediatrician.
Sitting in the hospital next to Melonie’s bedside Thursday, the day after Paxton’s birth, Brad talked about why they had decided, three times, to come back to Galveston to have their babies.
“This is where we are from, where we grew up, where we met, fell in love and got married, where we had our children and where they were baptized. Our families and support system are here,” he said.
Melonie and Brad’s children are seventh-generation Galvestonians on both sides of the family. Brad’s parents are Charleen and Hubert “Butch” Smith. Melonie’s father is Dane Bolton, her mother is Patricia Bolton-Legg, and her stepfather is Rusty Legg.
Melonie and Brad have known each other since they were in karate class together when she was in sixth grade and he was in ninth. He graduated from Ball High School in 1999 and she graduated in 2002, but they never dated in high school.
“We liked each other then, but we were both too shy about it,” Melonie said.
When they met each other again through a chance encounter in Galveston in 2007, things moved quickly. Soon, they were married and setting up a household of their own in Hillsborough.
Even though they enjoy living in and experiencing new places — they have now moved to Austin, which they say they love — the couple is very clear that their Galveston roots have a powerful meaning for them, and they want to instill this sensibility in their children.
“This is what we have grown up to know and love,” Melonie said. “We wanted our children to be a part of Galveston’s history, just as our families have been.”