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"Babies' return to alma mater

The Women's Center at Morton Plant Hospital welcomed home "graduates" of all ages at its Baby Alumni Celebration on Sunday.

As part of the annual Week of the Woman, the center invited all people born at Morton Plant since the hospital opened its doors in 1916 for an afternoon of fun, education and history.

Leading nearly 300 registered attendees was Jessie Coachman Brooker of Brandon, who was Morton Plant's second child and first baby girl in 1916. Marcia Wiseman, director of nursing at the Women's Center, presented Brooker with a brick from the original hospital building that has an engraved plate declaring her the 1994 Baby of the Year.

The youngest alumna present, 12-hour-old Emily Johnson, dropped by the reunion just long enough to have her photograph taken with Brooker.

Awards also were presented to the largest "baby" at the party and the family with the most generations born at the hospital.

Guests included retired pediatricians Rick Carter and Richard Meriwether and retired obstetrician Andrew Hagan. The group was taken on a tour of the Women's Center, which opened in 1991.

Dr. Hagan, who retired in 1992, marveled at the facilities. He reminisced about his early years delivering Morton Plant babies, when the operating rooms were not air-conditioned and ether was administered as an anesthetic.

"Obstetrics goes through all of its changes," Hagan said. "It's like a full circle."

A photograph on display featured a cake commending Hagan and his partner, Dr. James Burns, on a career landmark: "After 6,000 deliveries, you deserve a good night's sleep." Among the births was Hagan's 11-year-old grandson, David Hagan Jr. Hagan attended this week's event with family members, including a 5-year-old grandson, Andrew Michael Moench, also a Morton Plant baby.

Lou Ann Taylor Nash, born at Morton Plant in 1934, headed up three generations of alumni, followed by son Thomas Nash Jr. and granddaughter Taylor Nash. Mrs. Nash coordinates the Women's Center's Pelican Club, which offers expectant parents free information on classes and social times to visit informally with physicians and each other.

Adults and children alike roamed the center's halls to learn more about how they began their lives. Displays chronicled hospital history.

According to a poster, Morton Plant personnel delivered six infants in 1916. Last year, there were nearly 2,500 births at the hospital.

An orange crate saved since 1939 told the triumphant story of twins Sara and Laura McMullen, who weighed in at two pounds, two ounces; and two pounds, eight ounces, respectively, upon their arrival three months early. The crate was transformed into an incubator, complete with hot water bottles and light bulbs.

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