Technology brings family into delivery room for Bruces

Tuesday, December 22, 2020
Holden, Ashlyn, and Stella Bruce, of Dexter, are shown moments after Stella was delivered in April. Because of COVID regulations, no other family members were allowed in the delivery room.
Photo provided

In the fall of 2019, when Holden and Ashlyn Bruce of Dexter discovered they were expecting a baby, the young couple was ecstatic. High school sweethearts who had married the previous September, they were looking forward to adding a new member to their little family.

Things proceeded normally for the couple until COVID-19 moved into the region.

“With the baby due in April, we weren’t impacted by it until the last weeks of my pregnancy,” explains Ashlyn. “Suddenly, we were met at the entrance to have our temperatures taken and to answer the standard questions about COVID exposure. Only one person could accompany me to my appointments.”

Ashlyn and Holden Bruce of Dexter, cherish the memories of their daughter’s birth, even though COVID-19 altered their delivery plans.
Photo provided

As the presence of COVID in the Southeast Missouri area continued to grow, medical facilities were changing their visitation and admission policies almost daily. The young mother says she was emotionally shaken when she learned she and Holden would not be able to have the support of family with them at the hospital during the birth.

“At this particular appointment near my delivery date, my mother had gone with me,” Ashlyn recounts. “I don’t think I’ll ever forget the feeling that overcame me, or the look on my mom’s face, when the doctor told us that only one person could be with me during delivery.

She adds, “No other visitors were allowed in the waiting room; the person with me could not leave; and, of course, there could be no changing visitors. A knot instantly formed in my stomach. I had a lot of fear and worry, and tears were definitely shed.”

Stella Mae Bruce, of Dexter, born during the throes of COVID-19, was welcomed into the world while her family watched from home.
Photo provided

Ashlyn goes on to say, “I prayed for days on end for COVID to just go away and for things to get back to normal. I hoped that, at least, the hospital would change its protocol to allow more visitors. Sadly, things did not change, but I was very grateful that I could have Holden with me, and not have to deliver the baby alone.”

Ashlyn explains that she and Holden had had very different plans for their birthing experience, and the news of the hospital restrictions caught them off-guard.

“My vision for the delivery room was for Holden, of course, to be there,” Ashlyn discloses, “along with both our mothers, and my younger sister, Alexa. I imagined our fathers, grandparents, and my younger brother would be waiting anxiously in the hallway.”

Due to the efforts of a thoughtful delivery room nurse, family members were able to share in the birth of Stella Mae Bruce--despite COVID restrictions. This FaceTime screenshot includes from upper left Alexa Werneck, Rachel Jameson; bottom row from left Chad Werneck, Marrianne Bruce, and Amber Werneck.
Photo provided

As it turns out, members of the family were able to share in the birth of Stella Mae Bruce, thanks to the efforts of one of the delivery room nurses.

“We had really great nurses,” Holden points out, “who did their best to make the whole process easy and smooth for everyone. One of the nurses offered to stand at Ash’s head and FaceTime with our family. Thanks to technology, we were able to have multiple phones participating in the call.”

He continues, “My parents, Ashlyn’s parents, and some of her other family members, were all able to share in Stella’s birth. It was comforting, knowing they were there, but honestly, I was focused on Ash most of the time. The nurse was really good about handling the FaceTime details.”

Even though their delivery plans could not be carried out as they had originally hoped, the couple says they still have moments to cherish from the altered event.

“I would never have thought to include our families through FaceTime,” Ashlyn asserts. “The fact that they could all share this with us, is definitely something we will treasure.”

Holden adds, “Even though we wanted our family to be with us, we can honestly say it was a special, connecting moment when our baby girl was born, and it was just the two of us there. I will never forget it. Even though Ash had been anxious and emotional in the days before Stella was born, she was just amazing during the whole process — strong and brave.”

Holden goes on to say, “Stella has definitely been our light in 2020. Not only to us, but to our family and friends, as well. She has brought so much joy. As Ash says all the time, ‘God gave her to us at the perfect time. He knew we would need her in 2020.’ We are so blessed and thankful every day.”

Ashlyn and Holden are both graduates of Dexter High School. Holden graduated from Southeast Missouri State University in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural business. He is employed as a loan officer at the Dexter branch of First Missouri Bank. Ashlyn graduated this month from Hannibal LaGrange University with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. She is currently working as a substitute teacher in the Dexter schools. The couple resides in Dexter.

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