BAXTER -- It's a boy.
And Elijah James Thell couldn't have arrived at a better time, though he gave his parents quite a scare.
The Baxter newborn was born two weeks ago on April 26, and celebrated Mother's Day on Sunday with his mother, Chrissy Thell.
David Thell, Elijah's father, has not met his son yet, but was able to hear him cry and coo over the phone many times during the past two weeks before Thell, a Minnesota Army National Guard soldier then stationed in Kuwait, was sent Saturday to serve somewhere in Iraq.
It is unclear when Thell, who serves with the Army National Guard's Company C, 142nd Engineer Battalion based at Camp Ripley, will be able to contact his family again while serving with the 145 members of his military unit in Iraq.
While Thell was unable to be there for his son's birth, he will get a chance to see the entire event on videotape, thanks to a family friend who taped Elijah's birth, said Chrissy. Nurses even turned up the heart monitor during her labor so the video camera microphone could pick up the sounds of Elijah James' heartbeat for his dad.
But Elijah James' birth at St. Joseph's Medical Center in Brainerd was anything but ordinary. The baby became lodged in the birth canal for an extended period of time, said Chrissy. He had a heartbeat but was not breathing at birth and had to be resuscitated using CPR.
"I could barely see him but I could tell they were doing chest compressions on him," said Chrissy, who was unable to hold her baby until 40 minutes later. "That was awful. I was like, 'Oh, my gosh, my baby better be OK.'"
Doctors initially were concerned that the baby suffered a seizure after his birth. His arms were stiff, he was continuing to smack his lips together and was only able to look to the left. It was not a good sign, said Chrissy.
So at 2:30 a.m. April 27, hours after his birth, the baby boy was flown by helicopter to Minneapolis Children's Hospital where he spent nearly a week. It was discovered at Children's Hospital that he didn't suffer a seizure but his traumatic birth had been difficult for him. He came home May 1.
Elijah James weighed in at 7 pounds, 10 ounces, and was 19 inches long.
David Thell was able to call his wife while she was in labor at the hospital but didn't learn whether they had a boy or girl until he was able to call again two days later as Chrissy and her mom, Coragay Hakanson, drove to Minneapolis to see the baby.
While stationed in Kuwait, Thell was able to phone home often but his minimum waiting time for an available telephone was two hours. Now that the unit is in Iraq, Chrissy said she has no idea when her husband will be able to call again. The unit has not received any mail since it left Fort Carson, Colo., and arrived in Kuwait last month to serve in the war in Iraq.
Thell was on the phone with his wife at 4 a.m. one day when Elijah James' remaining umbilical cord fell off. They laughed as Chrissy made an attempt to find it. She eventually did in the baby's diaper.
"I'm like, 'Oh, honey, his cord's gone,'" said Chrissy with a laugh. "Daddy got to be there for something exciting."
Chrissy, a registered nurse at St. Joseph's Medical Center, is now home on maternity leave with her son.
Thell isn't the only first-time dad or dad-to-be in the Camp Ripley Unit.
Sgt. Clint Headley's girlfriend, Staci Sedahl, Brainerd, is due Tuesday with their baby girl.
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