Riley Andrew James was born at Regional One Health at 12:11 a.m. January 1, making him Memphis’s first baby of the decade.
The experience was even more exciting for the labor and delivery team because Riley’s mom is one of their own – labor and delivery nurse Secillia Mitchell.
Secillia said she never considered anywhere but Regional One Health to have her baby, and she felt loved and supported throughout the birth.
When Riley Andrew James entered the world at Regional One Health at 12:11 a.m. January 1, 2020, he staked his claim to the title of Memphis’s first baby of a brand new year and decade.
It’s an experience that might sound a little overwhelming, but for parents Secillia Mitchell and Antoine James, it truly felt like spending the holiday at home with family and friends.
Secillia has been a labor and delivery nurse at Regional One Health for about five years. She was actually on duty at the hospital the day before she went into labor with Riley.
So when Antoine, a paramedic with the Memphis Fire Department, was taking her to the hospital on New Year’s Eve to give birth, she knew she’d be greeted by the embrace of family. “I wouldn’t have my child anywhere else,” Secillia said. “Regional One Health is like home, and everyone here is like family. All the love we’ve had since we’ve been here, we knew we were in the right place.”
It’s the perfect end to a pregnancy that was destined to be special from the beginning.
When Secillia learned she was pregnant, her doctor gave her the exciting new that her due date was, indeed, January 1. Upon hearing that, she had one thought on her mind:
“I didn’t want a Christmas baby!” Secillia laughed. “People hate having Christmas birthdays. You always get cheated!”
So she made a January 1 delivery her birth plan, and then hoped for the best – even as family and friends joked that they thought Riley, her fourth child, might come early.
But as Christmas came and went and New Year’s Eve approached, Secillia did what she always did – headed off to Regional One Health to the career she loves.
“The thing about labor and delivery nursing is you either love it or you hate it. For me, it’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do,” she said. “I originally looked into Regional One Health because there are so many service areas and I wanted to move around and try different things, but as soon as I got to labor and delivery it just stuck.”
“Seeing new life enter the world – it’s exciting every time I see it.”
Being a mom herself only adds to that. “I think it’s almost a nurturing thing,” she said. “Just like it comes naturally as a mother to nurture your child, I feel compassion for my patients and I want to support them. I want to make their birth experience a memorable one.”
With that in mind, Secillia never really considered not working late into her pregnancy.
The moms she was delivering would marvel that she was able to work a rigorous, on-your-feet-all-day job in her ninth month, but Secillia says she felt great and it was actually a comfort to be at work. She knew her work family would support her, and she was proved right – her physician, Ashekia Pinckney, MD, OB/GYN even came in on her day off to deliver little Riley.
“Every day I didn’t go into labor, I just came in,” Secillia said. “I felt calm because this is such a family environment, and besides, I felt safer being here.”
It’s a philosophy that had paid off before – Secillia actually went into labor with her youngest daughter while she was at work at Regional One Health.
Her little girl is now 5 and is thrilled to be a big sister. “They are all so excited,” Secillia said of her other children. “They’ll be helpful. Probably a little too helpful!”
Secillia and Antoine said they’re excited to get home and start their New Year – and their new life – with Riley and the rest of the family. As they do so, Secillia said she feels fortunate she was able to combine her love for her family with her passion for her career.
“Regional One Health is famous for its trauma center and helping patients who have unfortunate events, but we also have so many other services that are excellent and that we are passionate about,” she said. “To be able to choose to have my baby here on New Year’s and be able to shine a light on some of those services is amazing.”