Four generations of one family born at Baylor University Medical Center

Welcoming a new baby into the family is always a joyous occasion but for the Hartley family, little Emersyn Jane’s arrival was even more momentous. As she entered the world on Dec. 17, 2018, Emersyn’s birth marked the fourth generation of Hartleys to be born at Baylor University Medical Center.

Since the early 1950s, a total of 28 Hartley family members have been born at the same hospital. It all started with Nita Free, Emersyn’s great-grandmother, who was born at Baylor University Medical Center in 1954.

Three generations have since followed suit, carrying the birthing line from great-grandmother Nita Gayle (1954), to grandmother Emily Suzanne (1977), then to first-time mother Elyza Nicole (1997), and now newborn baby Emersyn Jane (2018).

Baylor University Medical Center: A home away from home

Sharing the same birthplace has created a deep tie between the family and Baylor Scott & White Health that remains strong to this day. Nita said the family views the hospital as a home away from home.

“Baylor University Medical Center is like home for me and many of my family members,” she said. “All four of my children, six grandchildren and one great grandchild were born there.”

For Nita, the bond goes even deeper. She has worked for Baylor Scott & White for almost 30 years. Her career began in 1989 as a receptionist for a physician’s office. Since then, she has held positions working as a business service coordinator and currently works on the billing team for Texas Urogynecology Associates.

“I have worked with and seen so many amazing physicians through this hospital and am lucky to have such a strong tie to Baylor Scott & White,” she said.

LeAnn Haddock, MD, obstetrician-gynecologist on the medical staff at Baylor University Medical Center, delivered Emersyn, the fourth generation “Baylor baby,” which she notes is rare.

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“Since I first started working at Baylor Scott & White, I was grandfathered in a lot of loyal patients to the system,” she said. “I have delivered a good amount of second and third generation babies, but fourth generation is pretty rare.”

Labor and delivery through the years

From baby boomers to post-millennials, a lot has changed in the almost 65 years since Nita’s birth. We went from transistor radios to having everything on our phones, and from the beginning of mass vaccinations against polio to using our body’s immune systems to fight disease.

The field of labor and delivery has also evolved, as the Hartley family has witnessed firsthand over the past four generations. New technologies, medications and best practices continue to enhance the labor and delivery experience for families as they welcome a new life into the world.

Epidurals — which were not available until the 1960s — were a game-changer for childbirth. Today, hospitals can even offer nitrous gas to help ease the pain for expecting mothers.

Epidurals — which were not available until the 1960s — were a game-changer for childbirth. Today, hospitals can even offer nitrous gas to help ease the pain for expecting mothers.

Delivery used to be a segmented process, with labor, delivery and post-partem care each happening in a separate room. It also used to be common practice to move the newborn to a nursery room in a different area from the mother. However, many hospitals have now moved away from traditional nursery areas, and unless medically necessary, the newborn will stay in the same room as the mother.

Today, all phases of labor and childbirth can happen in the same room and if the mother-to-be chooses, she can have more people present at the time of delivery, which was not the standard when Nita was born 65 years ago.

“We don’t have a photo of my parents holding me in the hospital,” Nita said. “Having families in the delivery room wasn’t considered normal when I was born. I remember that you could have two guests at a time, and one of them was normally the father.”

Related: 5 things to look for when choosing a hospital for delivery

As the labor and delivery field has evolved, so has care for mothers and newborns at Baylor University Medical Center. Florence Nightingale Maternity Hospital opened in 1937 on the campus of the then Baylor University Hospital. In the 1950s, around the time Nita and her siblings were born, the hospital experienced a “Baby Boom” after soldiers returned home from World War II. The hospital was only built to accommodate 1,800 births annually, but during that time, was delivering around almost four times that, at about 7,000 babies per year.

“Baylor University Medical Center offers the full-spectrum of childbirth, from natural births with doulas and midwives, to surgery centers for high-risk pregnancies,” Dr. Haddock said.

In 1959, a new and expanded Women’s and Children’s Hospital was built — today, it’s called the Karl and Esther Hoblitzelle Memorial Hospital.

“Baylor University Medical Center offers the full-spectrum of childbirth, from natural births with doulas and midwives, to surgery centers for high-risk pregnancies,” Dr. Haddock said. “I see a lot of this dichotomy in the delivery room and I think it’s a draw for many expecting parents. We have truly adapted to the needs of women over the years.”

Although labor and delivery care continues to evolve, the focus remains the same — helping families safely and comfortably bring new life into the world. That commitment is what keeps the Hartley family coming back with each new generation.

Welcome, sweet Emersyn Jane, to the Baylor Scott & White family!

Are you expecting? Learn more about the labor and delivery experience at Baylor Scott & White Health.

About the author

Liane Smith
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Liane Smith is a senior public relations consultant at Baylor Scott & White Health.

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Four generations of one family born at Baylor University Medical Center