September 10, 2005
It’s 8 a.m. and the cafeteria at Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital is fairly quiet, except for members and inlaws of the Van Sickle family.
Cory and Leslie Van Sickle, of The Dalles, have gone in to surgery for the caesarean delivery of their baby; while their children, and assorted other family members, begin the waiting game over breakfast.
Chris, 15, Brittnee, 14, and Coby, “just turned 12,” Cory’s children, and Casey, 8, Leslie’s daughter, are anxiously awaiting the arrival of their new baby brother. With them are Cory’s mother and brother, Danise and Joel Van Sickle, and Leslie’s mother, stepdad, grandmother, sister, and niece: Sandy and Dan Lacy, Joyce Schadewitz, Amy Shaw and Ashley, 9.
“They wouldn’t tell us the name – they have the name picked out,” says Leslie’s mom, Sandy. “They wanted something to be a surprise since we knew what gender it was.”
The group has just decided to move on to the maternity waiting area when Leslie’s dad and stepmom, Howie and Cindy Shaw, arrive with an “It’s a boy!” helium balloon and a stuffed lion toy.
“We haven’t heard yet? We haven’t seen yet?” asks Cindy, excitedly. “Are you excited? Did you sleep last night?” she asks the kids. “Did you have last minute stuff to do last night for the baby? Or did you just swim and go to bed?”
Cory’s brother, Joel, laughs. “That’s about it,” he says. “We pretty much strapped the baby seat in this morning and left.”
The family migrates to the maternity waiting area and settles in for the wait. The kids pull out cards, Game Boy, crossword puzzles, “Babysitter’s Club” book – anything to pass the time. Leslie’s sister, Amy, pulls out a notebook.
“Ok, we’re all going to guess the baby’s weight and length,” she says, and takes note of everyone’s official guess. Weights ranged from 8 pounds, 2 ounces (Cory’s mom, Danise) to 10 pounds, 5 ounces (the figure Cory had given Amy earlier).
“And Leslie’s was 8.8,” Amy says. “Wait a minute,” mom Sandy says, “she has the advantage of the doctor saying…”
“We all know she’s a cheater anyway!” jokes Amy, in true sisterly fashion.
The adults speculate about how Cory is dealing with being in the operating room, and Amy jokes, “Maybe we should go in there and hold his hand! Wish I could be in there to watch.”
Joel doesn’t share her feelings – “No, I’m good right here,” he says.
The family discusses practical matters such as who’s staying where, and what to have for lunch and dinner. Sandy turns to her granddaughter, Casey, and asks, “Are you excited?” “I want to know what the name is!” is Casey’s answer. “You guys have any guesses?” Sandy wants to know.
“Chase and Travis – those are the two names they remember hearing,” says Joel, referring to the kids. He said the parents had told him they let it slip one day, but the kids didn’t notice it.
Someone realizes that if the baby’s name is Chase, then Brittnee will be the only one whose name doesn’t begin with ‘C’.
“She’s a special girl,” someone says. “She’s the first in line alphabetically.”
Amy is up and pacing – “8:45, I’m getting so antsy!” she says. “It’s almost time!”
“This is taking so long, you’d think she was in labor,” says stepmom Cindy.
“The natives are getting restless,” says Cory’s mom, Danise. “That woman down at the bottom of the elevator is a hospital volunteer – she can check on things for us.”
Chris and Coby begin to play roughly. “Hey-hey-hey,” Joel warns. “We’re in a hospital,” Chris remembers, and Coby retorts, “You’re lucky we are in a hospital!”
“Everyone’s wandering, pacing,” Danise says. “Every time the elevator ‘ding’ goes, we’re all — (She leans forward, craning neck toward elevator).”
“Open-open-open,” says Joel.
“Hurry up, baby!” Casey says. The elevator dings, and she gasps. “Please be here!”
Coby is bouncing up and down. “Settle down!” his uncle Joel says. “If it was a girl I wouldn’t be this hyper!” Coby insists.
“I’m molding this little guy from an early age to be my perfect little brother,” says Chris, the oldest of the Van Sickle children.
Amy is tired of waiting, and decides to use the restroom. “Any of you kids want to come?” she asks. “Oh, you’re going to miss the baby!” someone says. “No, we won’t,” Amy says confidently.
But it’s nearly 9, and Amy is wrong. Within moments the elevator dings and out come two nurses with a baby in a radiant warmer, and dad Cory not far behind.
The family asks permission to follow, and moves toward the nursery, where the baby will be weighed, measured, and tested, then cleaned.
It’s 9 a.m., and Amy and the other missing persons rejoin the group, just in time for the brothers and sisters to be invited – after cleansing their hands – into the little room to watch the procedures. They join their dad, who’s standing by with a camera, as the rest of the family crowds around the windows. And they are still waiting to hear the name.
The baby was named Braeden Robert – not Chase or Travis — and he weighed 9 pounds, 5 ounces, and measured 20 ¾ inches. Leslie’s mom, Sandy, guessed the closest weight, and her sister Amy was closest on length.