'I didn't know I could love anything so much'

Asante Ashland Community Hospital's first baby of the year, Macyn Pace, was delivered Saturday by Dr. Miriam Soriano, who also delivered his mom, Meadow Rucker, 21 years ago.

Gathered round them just before discharge Monday were Rucker's aunt Miriam Banuelos, also delivered by Soriano and named after her, and Ava, her 4-year-old daughter, another Soriano delivery.

"That's a lot of babies," said Soriano, "and it's a very special experience to deliver a baby and have them grow up, then deliver their baby."

It's not unusual for Soriano to be in a room where she's delivered most of the people there. She's welcomed more than 2,500 babies into the world since beginning family practice here in 1989, more than 12 percent of the town's current population.

Baby Macyn came into the world at 4:05 p.m. Saturday at ACH's Birth Center, "a beautiful birth, textbook perfect," says Soriano.

Rucker and Macyn's father, Levi Pace, 21, got the treatment provided every family with the first baby of the year — gift baskets from the Hospital Foundation and Hospital Auxiliary, with items donated by local stores that specialize in infants and new parents.

But it was the baby himself who got all the attention.

"I didn't know I could love anything so much," said Rucker, a cellphone sales representative, wrapping her 2-day-old son's tiny fingers about one of her own.

Levi, a construction worker, said he held Meadow's head, walked her up and down hallways during labor and had the honor of cutting the cord.

The Birth Center, the first such center in a hospital in Oregon when it was created in the 1970s, is known as a quiet, home-like space where mom gets fussed over and can even have a water birth if she wishes, says its director, Loriano Floria.

Rucker chose the Birth Center because Soriano "has been my doctor all my life and I trust her — and it's very calm here."

"Everyone was very accommodating to her needs, quick to respond, relaxed and very patient," added Pace.

Recalling her daughter's birth, Banuelos said the Birth Center is "warm, not like a hospital room, and they gave me a massage afterward, which felt real nice."

Soriano graduated from Stanford University School of Medicine in 1986, and after her internship, worked at La Clinica in Phoenix, then set up her solo Ashland practice.

John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. E-mail him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.

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