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Coming Home Again

Published in Birthing Services, For the Health of It Author: CentraCare

For at least for one family, 2020 has been an opportunity to reconnect and rediscover one’s roots.

When Anne Laraway found out she was expecting toward the end of 2019, she could have never imagined where this pregnancy would lead her.

Anne is originally from St. Cloud and her husband, Nate, is from the Twin Cities. But work and school had led them to New York City where they had lived for over a decade and made a life together with their two boys, Jack (5) and Cameron (3).

Anne works as a general manager of a packaged foods company with over 100 employees. Nate also works full-time in his finance job. So when the city was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic in March, the two of them faced the same questions as other families across the country. How could they best keep their family safe? How could they balance working remotely while entertaining two young boys in a two-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn?

“It's not the kind of place that you want to be cooped up in with two little kids,” says Anne. “We just needed to go somewhere where we had a little bit more space and, honestly, some support."

Eventually, Anne called her parents in St. Cloud to ask if they could move back in with them while the pandemic passed. Her parents quickly gave their approval and within a couple of days, the whole family rented a car and drove 20 hours straight to Central Minnesota.

Laraway Family Summer in Minnesota
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Initially, the family only planned to stay for a short time. But as the Stay at Home orders continued and Anne’s pregnancy progressed — the more it made sense to for the family to stay in Minnesota and to plan to deliver at CentraCare – St. Cloud Hospital. A place of significance to her family, because it was where her mom, Peggy, had worked as labor and delivery nurse and where her dad, Steve, serves on the CentraCare Board of Directors.

“Once we got to May, I couldn't really travel in a car because I was so pregnant. And we still had the support from my parents, pitching in to help with the boys.” says Anne. “My parents have been great at helping us alleviate our stress. They told us not to worry about finding a place, stay here and have the baby here. That really put us at ease.”

When Anne was at 24 weeks, she started by having over-the-phone appointments with her doctor — Ellen Brown, MD — because hospital and clinic visitors had been limited due to COVID-19. It wasn’t until Anne was 28 weeks pregnant that she was able to meet Dr. Brown in person.

From her experience with her sons, Anne was expecting her baby to come early. But this time, that proved not to be the case. It wasn’t until July 21, when this baby — a daughter named Emilia — came into the world right on time at 9 pounds, 2 ounces.

While Anne and Nate are adjusting to having one additional child, they have put off making plans for when they’ll return home. But the extended stay has also allowed Jack and Cameron to further bond with their grandparents, develop their own routines and enjoy the Minnesota summer.

“It's been really amazing. I always thought St. Cloud was a great place to grow up. But I have a new appreciation for everything that's here,” continued Anne. “Every morning my boys go with my husband to the Sauk River, throwing rocks and hiking and spending 90 minutes outdoors almost every single day. That's just not an experience they would have had in New York.

“Your parents’ home is always your home. There's a level of comfort being with my family. That has been really nice. It has been stressful at times, but other alternatives could have been more stressful. I can't even imagine how we would have done it otherwise.”