by Nathan Warner
Stephanie Feld of Elk River had no plans to spend New Year’s Day in the hospital, but when she went into labor on New Year’s Eve, she realized she might be having the first baby of the year at Fairview Northland Regional Hospital in Princeton.
Stephanie, a teacher at Zimmerman Elementary, was not due until Jan. 8 and was home alone on New Year’s Eve while her husband Joel was busy filming a wedding nearly 200 miles away in La Crosse, Wis.
“I felt great all day,” Stephanie recalled, but as soon as her siblings showed up for a visit late that afternoon, her water broke. She picked up the phone and called her husband.
“At first, I didn’t believe her,” Joel laughed, “because she had been joking for weeks that she’d call me while I was out of town to tell me she was in labor and I had to come back right away.”
Joke or no joke, he needed to come back right away.
It had just started snowing when Stephanie and her sister left their house in Park Point near Twin Lakes Road and headed up Highway 169 to the hospital in Princeton.
“It was snowing pretty heavily by the time we arrived at the hospital around 6 p.m.,” Stephanie said.
Any suspicions Joel had about his wife’s labor were washed away when Stephanie’s sister sent a picture of his bride at the hospital on her phone.
It took him about six hours to make the trek between La Crosse and Princeton in what he remembers as “that awful snowstorm.” He pulled into the hospital around midnight, just in time to wish his wife a happy new year and get updated on the progress of her labor.
“I was the first expectant mother to arrive at the hospital on New Year’s Eve, but one of the last to have my baby,” Stephanie said, alluding to the two other births that happened at the hospital that day.
Bennett Leo Feld took his time. In the end, Stephanie underwent a C-section after an intensive 24-hour labor and spent five days in the hospital, but now both mother and son are doing great.
He came into this world at 7 pounds, 14 ounces. The new parents didn’t want him named after anyone they knew, so they chose the name Bennett Leo because no one in their acquaintance had that name and they liked how it sounded.
“The little man doesn’t cry unless he’s hungry or he needs a change of diaper,” Joel said. “He’s not fussy at all. We’re both very pleasantly surprised.”
The happy couple says they want Bennett Leo to be happy, healthy, and to live a full life.
“Everyone is going to be celebrating on his birthday,” Stephanie smiled, “so we’ll have to do something extra special.”