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10,000 babies and counting

They look like any other proud parents with their newborn baby girl.

But there's something rather special about Michelle and Carsten Doeren's new arrival, Elizabeth Hanna.

For the eight pound, three ounce baby was the 10,000th born at Woodwinds Health Campus in Woodbury -- and she's the talk of the hospital.

"Oh, you're here to see the 10,000th baby!" exclaimed the women on the welcome desk upon arrival.

Up and down the maternity department, Elizabeth Hanna and her parents became known as Woodwinds celebrities during their two-day visit.

It all started at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 2, when Michelle returned to the family home in South St. Paul after a trip to the library -- and felt her water break.

She and husband Carsten jumped in their car and started out on the five- to 10-minute journey to Woodwinds.

That was when the plan started going awry.

"A semi had flipped over on the bridge (I-494 over the Mississippi) and so they closed I-494 down," explained Michelle.

"We had to go through St. Paul but it was all backed up.

"Everyone in the car was nervous and no one was talking. It took us an hour to get to Woodwinds."

Once they arrived at the Woodbury hospital, Elizabeth Hanna, who has been named for one each of Michelle and Carsten's grandmothers, was born about eight hours later.

The couple laugh that it was touch and go at one point as to whether their daughter would get the accolade of 10,000th baby.

"The nurses told me while I was in labor," recalled Michelle.

"They told me she probably would be [the 10,000th baby] but they said there was another lady down the hall who was at the same stage as I was, so she might have been first."

The Doerens' two other children, 14-year-old Allyson and two-year-old Bruce, came to visit their new sister for the first time a few hours after she was born.

Bruce was also born in Woodwinds and was at first reluctant to see Elizabeth, although he changed his mind on a second visit.

"He wants to poke her all the time," laughed Michelle. "He was here twice yesterday and the first time he didn't want anything to do with her, but the second time, he started to warm up and gave her a couple of kisses."

Mom and baby daughter were due to return home last Thursday, Sept. 4.

In the baby business

If there's one thing the maternity department at Woodwinds Health Campus knows how to do, it's delivering babies.

Bringing 10,000 babies into the world in the eight years since the hospital opened, the nurses have their fair share of tales to tell about newborns and their parents.

Jan Ruiz, the registered nurse who helped in the delivery of both the first and 10,000th babies, said it's the babies, moms and dads who make it all worthwhile.

"It was major anticipation opening those doors," she said, recalling when Woodwinds opened in August 2000.

"It was a lot of work getting it ready for any emergency, for anything that could possibly happen."

Jeanette Schwartz, the director of maternity care, said one of the best aspects of Woodwinds is its ability to help expecting moms realize their dream births.

"We do acupuncture, acupressure, essential oils, healing touch, water births and hydrotherapy," said Schwartz.

"We even had a native American lady who needed 'saging,' which involves burning sage grass -- their view is that it chases away the evil spirits and brings in the good spirits.

"Of course, a hospital has a lot of restrictions, so we put together a policy with the fire department and the engineering department here."