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Published on May 08, 2020

Spreading joy through a window during COVID-19

Jatkola Family

Chanell Jatkola got a very special birthday present this year. Her third son, Jalen, was born at Cape Cod Hospital on May 1, which is her birthday.

Having a baby during a pandemic was a bit unnerving, she said, but the experience ended up becoming a beautiful time of connection with another patient during a time when physical distancing is the new normal.

Jalen’s birth was a great joy for Chanell and her husband, Ross, but with no visitors allowed in the hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic, they could not share it with their loved ones. Maternity Nurse Donna Edmonds, RN, suggested they put a sign in the window announcing, “It’s a boy,” and invite people to drive by to see the baby through the window. They loved the idea, so Edmonds made them a sign.

“No one could come visit, so this was a nice way for people to get to see the baby,” Chanell said. “She put the sign up and it made my mother-in-law cry. It was great because we could actually have a moment that was really nice in the midst of it all. Obviously, she wished she could be in the room, but it was really special. And then we put it on our Instagram and our Facebook page, saying ‘drive-byes welcome’ and a few other people started coming by. We put the baby in the window and they took pictures, so it was really cool.”

It's a Boy

But it wasn’t just family and friends who noticed the sign. Across the hospital campus from the maternity unit, in the Mugar wing, Jeanne Walsh was recovering from a serious gastro-intestinal illness. On the first day that she could get out of bed, she noticed the sign about Jalen’s birth and felt compelled to make her own sign that said, “Congrats,” with a big flower on it.

Jeanne had lost a family friend to COVID-19 that day and she said that the sign of Jalen’s birth gave her a sense of hope at a time when she really needed it.

Chanell didn’t immediately notice Jeanne’s sign, but a nurse pointed it out to her. Two days later, just before she was ready to be discharged, Chanell was sitting by the window with Jalen and she saw Jeanne in her window across the way. She waved to get Jeanne’s attention.

“We showed her the baby through the window and she made the heart sign with her hands,” Chanell said. “She was blowing kisses and we were blowing kisses back and she was clapping her hands and so excited. It was the sweetest thing. We both had huge smiles on our faces. It was such a cool moment.”

Because everyone was isolated in their own private rooms, Chanell didn’t know that the couples in the rooms on either side of her were also waving at Jeanne.

“Here’s the funny part,” Jeanne said. “At one point I had three rooms waving at me. They were all holding babies up and I was making thumbs up signs and little hearts with my hands. It was really, really beautiful and so much fun.”

Jeanne Walsh

At that point, Chanell and Jalen were under the care of nurse Heather Corbett, RN. They really wanted to know who the waving woman was so they could thank her. Heather found Jeanne and Jeanne gave her a business card with her contact information on it to give to Chanell and Ross. When they learned that Jeanne is a Realtor, it felt like fate. Chanell and Ross are looking for a house and now they hope that Jeanne will become their Realtor.

In the meantime, Heather asked her daughter, Keslie Corbett, who is a professional photographer, to come and record the moment. With permission from all parties, Heather posted the photos on Facebook along with the story of what happened.

“It’s floating all over the internet now, which is awesome,” Chanell said. “We’re hearing so many negative stories, so it’s nice to hear positive stories.”

Photo Credit: Heather and Keslie Corbett