‘Every baby deserves to be rocked.’ Andy and Theresa Stellpflug donate six rocking chairs to Mother/Baby unit

By Kristy Bleizeffer Dec 22, 2017

The Stellpflugs pose with the six rocking chairs they have donated to Wyoming Medical Center. They pledged to deliver eight more after the holiday.

When nurses handed Andy Stellpflug his first daughter 22 years ago, he rocked her immediately. It was almost instinctual, he said. You hold a baby, and you just want to rock. He didn’t stop rocking baby Shantel even when relatives asked to hold her. 

Maddisyn Stellpflug, 4, shows off her Christmas dress in front of a rocking chair her family donated to our Mother/Baby unit.

“I’m an old ranch kid. When a new calf is born, you want to make sure it’s with his mom,” said Andy, owner of Renewal by Andersen of Wyoming. “If you want your children to love you, you have to spend time with them. I love the bonding time that comes from rocking your babies.”

So, after the birth of his sixth child, Maci Grace, on June 13, Andy naturally wanted to rock. He asked our nurses for a rocker. There wasn’t one to give. They found a glider that creaked as it moved, but it was no good for a baby daughter who was trying to sleep on her dad’s chest.

“This hospital needs rocking chairs,” Andy said then.

He and his wife, Theresa, drove to Billings, stopped in at Cracker Barrel, and loaded up all the rocking chairs their trailer could carry. Two of their middle children, Garret and Sydnie, delivered them personally to our Ruth R. Ellbogen Family, Mother and Baby Center. 

“They are fantastic. I love them, the patients love them,” said Jennifer Gallagher, R.N., education coordinator for our mother/baby unit. “Something like this makes all the difference. We didn’t really realize we were missing them until somebody asked for them.”

The unit used to have rockers when it was located in the Center Tower, but they were old and in disrepair. When the Family, Mother and Baby Center opened in the new West Tower in 2014, the rockers didn’t make the move. The rocking chairs are the icing on the cake for rooms designed to be less institutional and more family centered, Gallagher said. 

“Our mamas and families use them every single day. They use them all the time. They use them both when they are in labor and after their babies are born. We appreciate this donation very much, but we are probably a little sad we didn’t have the rocking chairs before.”

Wyoming Medical Center hoped to thank the Stellpflugs on Friday during a small ceremony dedicating the four rocking chairs they donated. Instead, they surprised us a second time, arriving with two more rockers with bright red bows.

They vowed to deliver eight more, enough for our labor and delivery rooms, after the start of the year. 

Andy and Theresa, high school sweethearts, married right after graduation. Early on, Theresa was a nurse herself and even worked at Wyoming Medical Center. She was recognized as the “youngest nurse in Wyoming” just out of nursing school.  Andy worked for the railroad for many years, but would get laid off during the winter. He started selling windows part-time and opened his own business: Renewal by Andersen of Wyoming. It now employs 45 people. 

The young family thought they were done at three kids. When they decided to have more, they tried to group them together so that they’d have siblings close to their own age. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way.

“God has crazy plans for us. If someone had told me 20 years ago that I’d have five kids and would be getting ready to have another, I wouldn’t have believed them,” Theresa said. “We figured it out that when Maci turns 18, we will have been raising children for 40 years.”

Added Andy: “They are all happy, healthy and serve the Lord.”

Shantel, now 22, was born in Scottsbluff, Neb., but all five of their other children were born at Wyoming Medical Center. Garret, the only boy, is 18. Sydnie is 16. They are followed by the “three Ms:” Mackenzie, 9; Maddisyn, 4; and Maci Grace, 6 months.

Maci Grace was diagnosed via ultrasound as having a two-vessel umbilical cord. Most babies have three umbilical vessels – one vein to carry nutrient-rich and oxygenated blood to the baby, and two arteries to carry waste and deoxygenated blood away. The condition can indicate a higher risk for abnormalities in the heart and kidneys, and a slight increase in the chance of a stillbirth.

Levi Potter rocks his first child, Nova, shortly after birth at Wyoming Medical Center. Levi, an employee of Andy Stellpflug, sent this photo while Andy was traveling out of state. Levi’s wife said he hadn’t stopped rocking Nova since she was born.

“When nurses told us she was a healthy girl, we were so happy that they thought she was our first daughter,” Andy said. “We were just so relieved that she was healthy. She is the happiest daughter we have. She is always smiling.”

Though they regret that they weren’t able to rock her at the hospital, they’ve made up for lost time at home. They rock in the mornings, mostly, so she doesn’t need it to fall asleep. It’s a lesson they finally learned after the first three kids wouldn’t sleep through the night until 2 years old. 

Thanks to their donation, other families will not miss out on that crucial bonding time while at Wyoming Medical Center. Nurses, too, have used the chairs to soothe sick or fussy babies in the nursery.

Every baby deserves to be rocked, the couple says.

After hearing about how well the first round of rockers had been received by patients, families and staff, Andy had just one question: “Do you need more?”

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