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  • Born at Mary Greeley Stories

Born at Mary Greeley

So many babies, so many stories. 

Maybe it’s as simple as how much the baby weighed. Maybe it’s more involved – a dramatic drive through a blizzard to get to the hospital in time, or unexpected twins. Whatever the details, everyone has a story either about the day they were born or the day they delivered a child.  These are stories that are passed down through the years, told time and again.

Mary Greeley delivers around 1,000 babies a year so there are lots of “Born at Mary Greeley” stories. As we celebrate Mary Greeley’s centennial, we’ve been collecting these stories. Here are a sampling.


Chris Miller Alexander, Ames

Born at Mary Greeley - Blizzard Baby

Chris Miller Alexander, Ames

I was born at Mary Greeley on Dec. 29, 1948. This is the story my parents always told.

They were living five miles south of Maxwell, but had been at some friends about a mile north of Maxwell playing cards. They decided to leave early because there was a blizzard coming. It usually took them about 15 minutes to get home on the 210 blacktop. Not long after they got home, mom went into labor. They called the doctor and he told them to meet him at the corner of 210 and the road they lived on. They met him and the doctor wanted my mother to ride to the hospital with him, but she wanted to stay with my dad. So the doctor followed my parents into town. He kept his head stuck out the driver’s side window so he could follow my dad’s taillights in the blowing snow. The drive took them 2 hours. They got to the hospital at 2:30 a.m., I was born at 3 a.m., and the doctor caught his worst cold ever and was out of commission for several days.

On November 6, 1983, I gave birth to my daughter at Mary Greeley. The weather was a lot nicer that day.


Laurie Greer, Ames

Born at Mary Greeley - Alarm

Born at Mary Greeley Greer Baby
Laurie Greer, Ames

All three of our children were born at Mary Greeley in 1973, 1976, and 1977. The birth story of our son is memorable and especially complimentary to the doctors and staff who saved his life. 

At my end-stage prenatal visit with Dr. John Doran, he invited me to go over to Mary Greeley and be induced. Fetal monitors were available in 1976, but hadn't been in 1973, and I was suspicious that it was unnecessary and probably expensive. That day that monitor was critically helpful to us! 

My first delivery was also an induction. I didn't have an epidural or any drugs and the delivery was typical. We sort of expected a repeat in 1976. However, the fetal monitor sounded its alarm, which brought Dr. Doran running into the room with nurses in tow. I’d never heard Dr. Doran scream in my life, but he started yelling at my nurse to unhook the fetal monitor. The head of my bed was immediately tilted down and Dr. Doran inserted a hand to hold Max's head off his prolapsed umbilical cord. He sat on the bed in that position for about 15 minutes while an anesthesiologist was en route, and an emergency c-section followed. Dr. Doran explained to me that prolapse usually happens when you are doing something simple like paying your bill at Younker's, and the outcomes then are

I have always been very grateful to that monitor, the doctors, and staff who sent us home with a healthy 9 lb. 9.5 oz. son!


Sarah Gelner, Story City

Born at Mary Greeley - Sad News, Happy News

Sarah Gelner, Story City

August 8, 1980 was another hot, sultry summer day and I woke up a bit disappointed that I still hadn't gone into labor. I was a week overdue with our twins and was more than ready to have the babies, but no signs of labor were evident. 

It was another day at work at Mary Greeley for me as a psychiatric nurse, but this day was special because we were moving from our old unit in the original hospital building to our new location on the sixth floor. My coworkers were amazed that I still hadn't given birth and while taking care of my patients that morning, I was told I had a phone call. 

I remember that phone call well to this day as I received shocking news from my dad that my mom had died that morning. She had been battling pancreatic cancer. I was devastated by the news. My husband promptly came and took me home.

He proceeded to call Dr. Munson, informed him of what had happened and explained that my mom's funeral would be 2½ hours away. Dr. Munson regretfully told my husband that I would not be able to make that kind of trip at this point and would have to miss the funeral. However, he called back a few hours later with a plan. With the help and support of Mary Greeley, I went back to the hospital that afternoon and was induced. I delivered
two healthy, big (7lbs 8oz & 7lbs 4oz) baby boys.

I was weak and tired, but was able to leave the hospital on a pass two days later to attend my mother's funeral while the twins remained in the nursery. What a tremendous blessing it was for me to be able to grieve with my family and say goodbye to my mother. I returned to the hospital that night and was so grateful that our little guys, Christopher and Chad, were being well taken care of. 

Naz Long

Rietgraf Story

Watch the very memorable birth experience that the Rietgraf's had at Mary Greeley! 


Mary Kappelman, Ames

Born at Mary Greeley - Telegram to Japan

Mary Kappelman, Ames

My birthdate at Mary Greeley was Oct. 28, 1945, which was shortly after WWII ended. My dad, Lloyd Ritland, was still serving in the U.S. Army on Okinawa where he was in charge of Japanese prisoners. My mother, Eleanor Ritland, sent my dad the following telegram, which he received on October 30. ‘All well and safe. I wish we were together on this special occasion. All my best wishes for a speedy reunion. Daughter born.’


Terry Rich, Des Moines

When our first child, Amy, was born at Mary Greeley I hired a plane to trail a banner that said, ‘It’s a Rich girl.’ My wife should’ve known to expect something when Adam was born two years later. 

I’ve worked in promotions most of my life so I would come up with something and it just kept growing. I lined up the Ames High School Choir to sing Christmas carols outside the hospital, so an hour after Kim’s c-section we watched carolers with candles help welcome Adam into the world. 

President Reagan, Governor Terry Branstad and Senator Charles Grassley all sent congratulatory telegrams and Amy received a note from Mickey Mouse. We sent cigars to the Pope and to Prince Charles and then we brought in the Goodrich blimp. It wasn’t THE Goodrich blimp, but we did send up a big helium balloon to announce the birth
and the tire company B.F. Goodrich did send us some decals to put on it to make it look like the actual Goodrich blimp. 

Stories about what we’d done showed up everywhere. My mom was in Nashville, Tennessee a couple weeks later and saw the story in Weekly World News, a sister publication of the National Enquirer. The headline on the story was ‘Son of Rich.’

A birth is something to celebrate. There’s so much death in the world that when things go
right we want to have some fun. Our daughter Amy is now the director of maternal and child services at Mary Greeley, which seems fitting. It’s as though everything has come full circle.


Marcella George, Huxley

Born at Mary Greeley - Mother Always Knows Best

Marcella George, Huxley

Our first child was born in Wisconsin. There were complications and he was delivered by
C-section. We moved to Huxley in 1954. I became pregnant and saw Dr. David Wall at
McFarland Clinic. There were no ultrasounds or anything like that in those days and when
I was four or five months along I asked the doctor if there was any chance for twins.
He said ‘No.’ 

On April 18, 1955, I went into the hospital for my scheduled C-section. The doctor came
into my room and said: ‘Now I am the smartest man in the world.’

‘How did you figure that out?’ I asked.

‘Because Albert Einstein died this morning,’ he answered. (He actually had died that morning.) 

The nurses and he were examining me and I asked again if there was a chance I was having twins. It seemed like there was an awful lot of baby there. Dr. Wall said, ‘Nope.’

When I woke up after general anesthesia, the doctor came in and asked if I wanted to know what I had. 

‘Another boy?’ I asked.

‘Nope,’ he said.

‘A girl?’ I asked.

‘Two,’ he said. ‘One was right behind the other, so I didn't hear the second heartbeat.’

One baby weighed 6 lbs 15 oz. And the other weighed 6 lbs. 3 oz. 

I had delivered identical twin daughters. 

Then my husband came in.

‘You want to know what we had?’ I asked.

‘Another boy?’ he asked.

‘Nope,’ I said.

‘A girl?’ he said.

‘Two,’ I answered.

As they were pushing a chair under him, he said: ‘She knew it. She knew it.’

We named them Gwen and Gail and they’ve been a joy and delight every day since they were born.

Lindsey Long's Born at Mary Greeley Video Thumbnail

Lindsey Long's Story

Watch to see what made Lindsey Long's son's birth so memorable at Mary Greeley! 


Gwen Laird, Ames

On May 14, 1963, I gave birth to my first daughter, Rhonda, at Mary Greeley Medical Center. I had a second child, 10 years later … another daughter, this one named Amanda. She was born exactly 10 years later, on May 14, 1973. We wanted a spring baby but never expected we’d nail it on the same day.


Ashley Martinez, Ames

Born at Mary Greeley - A Trio of Celebrations

Baby Rafa & Big Brother Iker

I was born in Mary Greeley in 1985. My mother had an emergency C-section because the umbilical cord was wrapped around my neck. She and I were always thankful that we were at MGMC during such a scary situation.

As an adult, my favorite memories are from Mary Greeley Birthways. My three boys were born there, and each time the staff was amazing.

Iker, my oldest, was born while my grandmother was admitted in another part of the hospital, so we were able to visit her. My middle son Rafa, came so fast my mother didn't have time to meet us at the hospital, so the nurses took care of my 17-month-old while I was in labor.

My youngest, Pablo, came quickly as well, and when he was born we discovered he had Down Syndrome. We had to process a lot of new information, but MGMC helped us navigate all of it. The nursing consultants saw us time and time again. I love and cherish every minute that we celebrated at Birthways!


Allen Lang, Ames

In 1944 my newlywed parents were both students at Iowa State College.  In March their firstborn—me—was delivered by Dr. Wall (who else?).  Once my father was done with his training, we moved to Iowa City, but 32 years later when I was done with my medical school instruction, I returned to Ames. There, I joined MGMC where I practiced orthopedics for 25 years.


Donna Binning, Roland

I was 19 years old and pregnant when I came in for a check-up with Dr. Grabenstetter. When the appointment was over I made my way to my car and couldn’t stop urinating. When I went back inside and was put in a room, Dr. G informed me that it was not urine: My water had broke and was leaking out slowly. She admitted me and said she would be back the next day after she went school clothes shopping with her kids. A few hours later she was delivering my beautiful baby girl. Who knew my first child would come so quickly?

Fast forward almost 20 years. Late in life I went to school to become a nurse. During our OB rotation I recognized the nurse who had taken wonderful care of me when I delivered my daughter. She was still working at MGMC, taking care of mamas and babies. She did such a great job taking care of a scared 19-year-old girl and her newborn all those years ago, and there she was 20 years later, doing a great job mentoring a nursing student.


Laura Galbraith, Maxwell

The day I was born my parents almost didn’t make it to MGMC. We were unable to get to the highway because the snowplow got stuck on the gravel road. They walked to the highway where an ambulance picked them, and I was born by C-section. All three of my kids were born at MGMC as well.


Heather Ayers, Ames

My grandmother (Theone Risse) used to work on Peds overnight until she passed away in 1981. My mother (Diane Risse) retired from MGMC in 2013. MGMC is where I grew up. When I was a child, at Christmas we would wrap toys and donate them to the Peds floor. There used to be a memorial picture of Raggedy Ann and Andy for my grandmother. I would go up to visit the picture when I needed to talk to her. I knew I wasn’t going to go anywhere else to have my son in 2009.


Norma Sandvick, Ames

My mom always told me each year on my birthday that there was a horrible blizzard on the night I was born. My dad had to come from Des Moines, and he was the last car to get through before they closed the highway.   Now, on my birthday, I always wish I could hear her tell me that story just one more time.


Beth Faas, Ames

My husband and I have two sons. Both born at Mary Greeley. Both born on the 16th of the month. Both delivered by Dr. Grabenstetter. . Both born in the same hospital room (474). Because of all those coincidences, they decided to get matching tattoos of "474."


Margaret Vance, Ames

When my son was born at Mary Greeley Hospital in 1958, privacy was almost nonexistent. Labor took place on one of the enclosed porches on the south end of the building, recovery rooms were shared, and we were herded down the halls to community showers.

My roommate was a tiny lady from Japan; she was probably the wife of a newly arrived Iowa State College faculty member. She was having her first child and she spoke no English. She had no family for support except her husband.  Personal sharing was foreign to her culture and she was frightened. But in spite of all this, she named her son ‘America.’

All these years I have wondered if these two ‘babies,’ now 57-year-old men both born on July 15th at Mary Greeley Hospital, might someday cross paths.


Heath and Heidi Moenck, Webster City

Dr. Doran was very busy on Halloween, October 31, 1985: He delivered two sets of twins from Webster City. Heath and Heidi Moenck were born to Gary and Linda in the morning. Later in the day, Scott and Michael Jansen were born to Kathy and Dave. The kids were baptized the same day at Asbury Methodist Church in Webster City, graduated from the class of 2004 together, and remain good friends to this day.


Paul Eness, Ames

In 1934 the country suffered through the hottest summer on record, but the morning of August 25 the temperature took a dive to near 40 degrees. My mother actually had to wear a coat for the drive from the farm near Gilbert into Mary Greeley, where her doctor, Dr. Armstrong, wanted to deliver her baby. My dad Eugene Eness accompanied my mother in to the hospital. My mother was getting vocally uncomfortable and my dad was getting very nervous. Dr. Armstrong told my dad: “I might need some of my instruments from my bag in the car. Would you run out and get them for me?" Dad ran out to get the bag and he could hear my mother hollering from the place he was standing in parking lot. He had run out to get the bag but he said he drug his feet on the way back in to give time for my mother’s screams to change to the wail of a new baby.
Looking back, he realized that Dr. Armstrong needed him out of the way more than he needed any instruments!


Marilyn Vaughan

My son, Asher, was born Jan. 25, 1996 at MGMC, the morning of the worst blizzard in decades. The day started predictably, but miraculously nonetheless. A baby boy delivered via planned C-section at 8:10 a.m. He was healthy and loud, wailing while scrunching up his little face into a reddened ball. He looked exactly like his father, even at the tender age of less than one hour. Somehow I had known he wouldn’t resemble me from the first time I saw him huddled in a fetal pose on the ultrasound screen.

Unlike his red-haired and freckled face mother, the baby made his entrance with dark brown hair and eyes along with olive brown skin and a nose that flared slightly at the corners. The elongated nostrils would undoubtedly develop into his father’s hooknose.

Later, the pediatrician would identify the purplish-blue mark on the base of the baby’s spine as a Mongolian spot. The Iowa-born infant’s long-ago ancestors hailed from Eastern Europe, where the people have big noses and high foreheads. In a poem she wrote about the spot, called Symbol of His Tribe, his grandmother associated the mark with Genghis Kahn’s mountain children.

I was far from the mountains in the middle of the Midwest on the fourth floor of the local hospital, but a blizzard was in the forecast. My husband and four-year-old son, Kuper, left early that afternoon because the snow continued to fall—hard and fast. On the way home, they encountered a police car stuck in the snow on a major thoroughfare. This scene showing the helplessness of a major authority figure against the power of nature is one of Kuper’s earliest memories.

I wasn’t ready to see them leave. Kuper was still afraid to approach the baby or sit on the bed with me. As mother and firstborn son, we had formed a tight bond during his short life, one that I didn’t want to see broken by the birth of his brother. But I knew our relationship would never quite be the same. In childlike fashion, he found security in the wispy, black net wings attached to his frail shoulders with thick elastic bands. Kuper had worn this lone remnant from his bee costume around the clock since Halloween, nearly three months now. At night, off went pants, shirt and wings to be replaced with fuzzy fleece pajamas and the wings.

Night fell and swirling, streaming snowflakes danced before my eyes, forming a curtain of white specks against the inky sky. I heard nurses chatting in the hallway and the smell of popcorn. It was a lock-in—the roads were so bad that all staff had to spend the night at the hospital. Off-duty nurses planned to find empty patient beds. “Anybody who needs an ambulance tonight is out of luck,” one remarked.

I continued to watch the storm from the security of the hospital room window, cradling my newborn baby in my arms while listening to the staff’s animated talk during their unexpected slumber party. Even though I knew a nurse was just a button-press away, I felt utterly alone as I stared into the darkness dotted with flurries. All that mattered was this new life; it was baby and I against the unpredictable and unfriendly forces of nature.

It wasn’t a silent night through no fault of the nurses. I dozed off and on in between breastfeeding, waking up to constant white noise, the sound of a motor revving up and slowing down, over and over again. Half conscious, I couldn’t pinpoint the source until dawn when the light revealed snowplows scurrying around huge mounds of snow in the hospital parking lot.

Few visitors came to the maternity ward that day as people dug themselves out from under a record amount of snow—more than 2 feet of snow in less than 24 hours. My husband picked up my mother from the airport. They stopped counting the number of cars in ditches because there were just too many.  I didn’t feel deserted or isolated, just contentment and a sense of purpose in caring for my new son. Someday we would have to enter the big, ugly world—but not quite yet.


Jennifer Madsen, Ames

My husband was deployed with his National Guard unit to Texas, waiting to ship out to Iraq. He was home for a quick weekend and was able to attend one of my last OB appointments with Dr. Doran.

To our surprise, Dr. Doran informed us that due to Isaac's size (and my small pelvis, apparently!) that he thought I would likely have a very difficult labor. He gave us the option of a C-section. Within an hour, we had a C-section scheduled in two days. They passed by quickly and we arrived at the hospital to welcome our first baby. The nursing staff on OB/Birthways was fantastic, talking me through everything as this was my first time ever in the hospital.

Dr. Doran and Dr. Leeds delivered our son just after noon on July 5, 2006. I remember Dr. Doran placing an ISU cap on my stomach after the delivery. I spent the next three days in the hospital with the wonderful and caring staff that makes up Birthways at Mary Greeley Medical Center. Now as an employee, I am now part of this amazing team that is MGMC.

Michele Gillesplie, Huxley

I was born on Easter. My brother was almost 2, and my mom refused to leave for the hospital until she had put out his basket and hidden the eggs. I was eight days overdue and my mom had a bad backache, but no contractions. She had my brother pretty quickly (4 hours), so knew she needed to get to Mary Greeley. She was admitted at 5:45 a.m., had a contraction and told my dad "get the nurse, the baby is coming." The nurse didn't believe it because she had just checked her. Sure enough, I was crowning and was born at 6:03 a.m. I have two younger sisters and mom was induced for both of their births. Her doctor didn't want her to deliver at home.


Kristina Culbertson, Huxley

My older sister and I were due with our second babies two weeks apart in February 2010.  Little did we know that we would deliver five hours apart, five rooms away, on Valentine's morning. It's been so fun having cousins share a birthday and Valentine’s Day! It was such a special day for our families.


Heather Boss, Boone

My husband Rick and I both work at MGMC. We weren't born here, but both of our children were. 

Our son Evan was born on 3/3/09, so we called him our square root baby. 

Our daughter Hannah was born on 12/12/12, which is also a date we can never forget. The Birthways staff have been wonderful to work with, both as a patient and a co-worker. 


Pam Millen, Ames

Our firstborn and best Valentine ever, Elisabeth Anne Millen, was born at MGMC on February 14, 1974. She decided to be born three weeks early to accomplish that feat. Our obstetrician, Dr. Doran, was out of town, which was a disappointment because he was the only local doctor at that time to allow fathers in the delivery room.

Elisabeth was born feet first with a prolapsed umbilical cord. We attributed the highly skilled Dr. Birdsall and my determination to push like heck to the successful delivery. (Our precious daughter lives here in Ames with her husband, Kevin, and their three children. Their firstborn, Ben, was born in Alexandria, Egypt, three weeks before they returned home to Ames. Their two other children, Josiah and Gabriella, were born at Mary Greeley.)

Our first son, David Andrew Millen, was born healthy on August 11, 1976, at MGMC. Months earlier, our family was overcome by carbon monoxide during the night. Our little daughter, Elisabeth, felt its effects first and started crying. I lifted her from her crib. She was unsteady on her feet and was disoriented. Then Ted and I began to feel woozy. I passed out. Ted had recently learned about the new emergency number 911. He called 911 and gave our address just before he became unconscious. The emergency team arrived in record time to take us to MGMC. We recovered fairly quickly. Dr. Munson, our obstetrician, had some concerns; I was 11 weeks pregnant. The baby could have suffered oxygen deprivation while my body was filled with carbon monoxide. The damaging effect to the brain was uncertain. We prayed for guidance and decided to leave the outcome in God's hands. When our healthy son was born, we all rejoiced.


Tonya Becker, Huxley

There is a great possibility that my twin sister and I might hold the record for the smallest babies delivered at Mary Greeley. On August 23, 1981, my mom gave birth to me—1 pound, 15 ounces—and my sister—1 pound 0.5 ounces. We were transferred to Blank Children's Hospital. My brother might be the largest baby delivered at Mary Greeley: 12 pounds on September 27, 1974.


Jean Day, New Providence

 Both our first son and I were born at Mary Greeley. It was quite an experience when I was born in 1954. The post WWII baby boom was on, and my mother said room was so limited at MGMC that mothers-to-be labored on beds lined up in the hallways!


Darin Roberts, Boone

Having spent a portion of my childhood living in Hawaii, and having exe exhausted the baby name books for ideas, when it came time to name our son we decided to look at Hawaiian names. He was Mary Greeley Medical Center in December of 1998. We settled on “Bane.” Despite its common negative definition, in Hawaiian it means ‘long-awaited child.’ This meaning holds significance to us because we went through five years of in vitro fertilization with the amazing physicians at MGMC. It was worth every try, because Bane is now 17 and a great kid!


Cheryl Dunkin, Ames

I was born and raised in Ames. My father Bruce Kellogg worked at Mary Greeley for 42 years. My husband John and all three of our kids were born at Mary Greeley.

Our daughter was the most eventful of the three births. I was on bed rest for months. I think I had every complication possible, and was in and out of the hospital. Angela arrived 7 weeks early and weighed 3 pounds 7 ounces with an APGAR score of 9. Dr. Leeds was our angel: He delivered her and stayed with me overnight because I kept throwing new complications at him. Angela is graduating this year—time has gone by fast!


Margaret Vance, Ames

My husband’s family lived in Ames but he was born in Des Moines. It was a high-risk pregnancy and that’s where the specialists were in 1931. In that day parents were expected to provide clothes, diapers, and blankets for the newborn. When it was time for mother and baby to return home, my husband’s mother packed all these things in a suitcase that was tied to the running board of their Graham Super Charger. Upon arrival back in Ames the suitcase was missing.

The next day his mom became ill with what turned out to be phlebitis and was admitted to Mary Greeley Hospital. She and the baby were assigned to the maternity ward and a young nurse was given the task of finding clothes for the baby.

Twenty-seven years later I was in the delivery room of Mary Greeley about to give birth to our son. The doctor was delayed so as a distraction, the nurse in charge began talking to me. It soon came out that while my husband was not born at Mary Greeley he had been there shortly after. A light bulb went off! It was the same nurse who had been assigned to find clothes for the father of the baby she was about to help deliver. Her name was Marie and she served in the maternity ward for many years after this incident. She loved the babies and obviously had a good memory.

Kathy Svec, Ames

I, and all eight of my siblings were born at Mary Greeley between 1945 and 1960. I am sure my mother, Edna Svec, was a familiar figure to the maternity ward staff! The day I was born, I interrupted the evening meal of BLT's, and my father, Harry Svec, had to carry my mother to the admitting desk because labor had commenced. It ended up being very short! (BLTs continue to be one of my favorite menu items!)