Chillicothe nurse says special delivery of healthy baby made for her best Christmas

Geneva Wallace of Chillicothe served as a certified registered nurse anesthetist at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria for much of her 42-year career. Now retired, she takes great joy in hooking rugs and teaching others to do the same. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

CHILLICOTHE — Early one cold December morning, long before the sun filled the sky, a baby boy was born.

No, not that baby.

This birth took place just south of Chillicothe, but it was still the best Christmas present Geneva Wallace ever received.

On that Christmas Eve, the child made it clear that he was ready to enter the world sooner than expected, leaving the mother gasping for breath. His father called for an ambulance.

A certified registered nurse anesthetist, Wallace started volunteering with Rescue 33 in Chillicothe when she was 40 and continued for 10 years. She said she would usually take call on Christmas Eve so the other emergency medical personnel would be free to celebrate the holiday.

“It was about 2 in the morning and it was for a mother in labor,” Wallace recalled. “We had snow — about 2 or 3 feet. The roads were passable, but not easily passable.”

While you never plan to deliver a patient at home, she said it was obvious the baby had other plans.

“I don’t think we’re going to get to Peoria with you,” Wallace told the mother, who already had one young son. “I think when we put you on the stretcher you’re going to deliver. What would you like to do — deliver in your home or deliver in the ambulance?”

She knew there wasn’t much time because she could see the baby’s head.

The mother chose to have the baby at home and after pushing two or three more times the child, Andrew, was born. When his big brother heard him cry he got excited and said, “Baby! Baby!”

A NICE RELATIONSHIP

“I was just praying the baby would breathe,” said Wallace, who had witnessed many births over the course of her long nursing career at Firmin Desloge Hospital of Saint Louis University in St. Louis and OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria, but hadn’t actually delivered a baby until that night.

“The baby cried and I cleaned him and got him all dried off and bundled him up and bundled her up and we all went to the hospital,” she told The Post.

When she got home, Wallace woke her husband and two daughters and told them, “I had the best Christmas anybody could ever have!”

“And I do believe that was the best Christmas,” she said. “A healthy baby, healthy mom. It was a great Christmas gift.”

After the mother was home a day or two, Wallace took flowers to the mother and saw the baby. Every year after Andrew’s birth, she would visit the family and bring chocolate Santas for him and his brother, and the mother would occasionally send notes or a little card to her.

“It was a nice relationship,” said Wallace, now 82 and retired for 15 years.

A member of St. Edward Parish in Chillicothe, she has five grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Wallace said her family comes to her cozy home on Christmas Eve and she spends Christmas Day with her sister.

Despite the passage of time — little Andrew would be about 30 now — Wallace said, “There’s not a Christmas Eve that goes by that I don’t think about them. That was the best Christmas.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story is part of a special “Christmas Greetings” section published in the Dec. 17 edition of The Catholic Post. To view the entire section, click on the E-Edition link on the blue bar at the top of this page.

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