’A triumph of optimism’ — Sierra Memorial welcomes New Year’s baby | TheUnion.com

’A triumph of optimism’ — Sierra Memorial welcomes New Year’s baby

Nevada County welcomes new year baby one day late, and a week early

Grace Nelson entered labor on New Year’s Day, but Nevada County’s first baby did not arrive until Jan. 2.

Grace and her husband Daniel Nelson welcomed their third child — John Benjamin Nelson, 9 pounds, 1 ounce — on Saturday at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital.

Grace Nelson said after a year like 2020, she hopes her baby’s birth — a week earlier than scheduled — serves the community as “a triumph of optimism over fear.”

John Benjamin Nelson, Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital’s first baby of 2021, was born at 5 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 2.

Nelson said she and her husband knew back in March that the year would be tough, but chose to continue to grow their family and move forward.

“Now, it’s a new year and we’re still dealing with (the pandemic),” Nelson added, “but there is a triumph of optimism over fear.”

Grace Nelson said the new generation inspires the present’s stakeholders to make investments in a shared future.

“We’re figuring it out as we go and the new generation is part of that,” Nelson said. “Having the hubbub around John’s birth brings that more into focus.”

Daniel Nelson, 31, sits with his new son, John Benjamin Nelson, his wife, Grace Nelson and their OBGYN Dr. Faye Jensen. John was 9 pounds, 1 ounce and 21 1/2 inches long.

Grace, 32, and Daniel Nelson, 31, moved to Lake Wildwood from New Jersey around 18 months ago with their two other children — 2 and 4 years old.

Grace Nelson said she is grateful tensions from the year’s challenges, particularly those related to COVID-19, did not not seep into her pregnancy or process of childbirth.

Grace said her husband was able to join her in the delivery room through the entire process, something she was grateful for given current COVID-19 related restrictions.

“The hospital was sensitive to keeping the experience as unaffected as they could that was consistent with current health policies,” Nelson said. “The labor was so intense for me, I didn’t notice any changes in treatment.”


Nelson said Sierra Memorial staff, the nurses and Dr. Faye Jensen prioritized her wellbeing — emotional and otherwise — throughout their prenatal care.

“You didn’t lose the experience of the pregnancy because of COVID,” Nelson said. “It was moreso something to deal with in the background.”

Grace Nelson said John Benjamin is the heaviest child she has had, and the first of her children to be born in the same state as his parents, making him a sixth-generation Californian.

Grace Nelson was born and raised in Tahoe before joining the Air Force in 2007. Her husband Daniel Nelson originally hails from Thousand Oaks, and currently serves as a pilot at Beale Air Force Base in Yuba County.

According to William Hodges, director of external communications for Dignity Health, the family was presented a Radio Flyer wagon courtesy of B&C Ace Hardware full of mom and baby supplies made possible by the Family Birth Center Employees and the Auxiliary Gift Shop through a program called Share the Spirit.

Grace Nelson said although she and her spouse Daniel were not expecting their new arrival for another week, the community’s response makes them feel integrated and supported by their neighbors.

“This kind of highlights the benefits of being in a small town,” Nelson sad. “We are part of the community and the county, which is really cool because we’ve been in areas with a lot more people.”

Nelson said she managed to check out a new — to her — dining spot in the time between her water breaking and beginning her labor.

“My water kind of broke early in the morning on the first of January, but I hung out at home because I wasn’t sure if the labor process would begin yet,” Nelson explained. “After doing some nice walking, my husband and I had a leisurely drive to Pine Street Burgers. I hadn’t eaten there before.”

Grace Nelson checked in at the hospital at 2 p.m. to ensure that there were not any dangers related to amniotic fluid.

Nelson began labor at 10 p.m. and gave birth seven hours later.

“We were able to do it without any intervention,“ Grace Nelson said. ”It was intense, but ultimately a pretty natural labor the whole time.“

Staff Writer Rebecca O’Neil can be reached at roneil@theunion.com.

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