GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – As sleet and freezing rain beat down on the Sparta home of Valerie Hayes and Edward Stickel on Monday morning, it seemed to be a typical start to a typical West Michigan winter day.
Then Valerie, pregnant with the couple’s daughter, began to sense something was wrong. So she alerted Edward.
“He woke up, looked at me, and went back to sleep,” said Valerie. “So I yelled at him again and said, 'We’ve got to go!'”
This time, Edward sprang out of bed to start warming up the family’s 1996 Dodge Ram for a ride to the hospital in the sleet. The two got in the truck and hurried to Mercy Saint Mary’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, but for as much of a hurry as they were in, their daughter was one step ahead.
“By the time we hit what would be the exit for 131 to Comstock Park, I knew,” said Valerie. “And [Edward’s] going, ‘No, no! Don’t do this! We are almost there!’”
“I tried my hardest to focus on the road,” said Edward. “There was so much traffic, and I’m sorry to anyone who thinks I’m not a very nice person.”
Baby Haylee is now known by many on social media as “The 131 Princess,” was born right there healthy and happy in the cab of her dad’s old truck.
And if you think her parents were shocked, imagine the surprise of the employees who met the three at the door of the hospital.
“The look of utter shock on their faces - they’re all just like, you did what?” said Valerie. “They come out, and the sweetest security guard just looks in the window and goes, ‘There’s a baby in there!’ And I just looked out the window and went, 'yup, there’s a baby.'”
Born at 7 pounds, 6 ounces, baby Haylee, along with mom and dad, is doing just fine.
It was quite the ordeal, but one the couple says will certainly yield some good stories in the days and years to come.
“Obviously, it was really eventful on the way here,” said Edward, “but now that she’s here, she’s just a bundle of joy that makes me and my family happy.”