First baby of 2008

Molokai welcomes Courtney Noelani Escobar

Great-grandmother Lucy Dudoit says hello to Courtney, her newest great-grandchild.

By Jennifer Smith

Welcoming a new baby into the world is always an exciting event; however, in a community where only about 40 babies are born on-island every year, births become even more celebratory. As such, for the past two decades the Molokai Women’s Health Center (WHC) has recognized the first baby born in each New Year as the Baby of the Year.

This year the Friendly Isle welcomed Baby of the Year Courtney Noelani Escobar into the community on Jan. 11. Courtney joins the ranks of only a chosen few who can call the shores of Molokai their birthplace.

“It was exciting. I thought there would have been others. There were several of us, but the rest chose to go to Honolulu,” Courtney’s mom Dana Dudoit said, explaining her surprise at giving birth to the Baby of the Year.

Dudoit and Courtney’s father Jose Escobar will have lots of help with their latest arrival, as Courtney joins five brothers and three sisters from the Dudoit and Escobar family.

To celebrate the arrival of the Baby of the Year several local businesses donated fun and useful gifts to Courtney and her mom. A laundry basket overflowed with toys, clothes and even a digital camera for Molokai’s first arrival of 2008.

“It’s a tradition for us to welcome the first baby born on Molokai,” Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) Joan Thompson said. “We like to celebrate Molokai births.”

With no obstetricians, no drugs and no possibility for a c-section, most Molokai women choose to go to Oahu to give birth.

“It takes a lot for a woman to say, ‘I’ll have my baby on Molokai’,” WHC staff member Mokihana Spencer said.

However, Thompson said that women who choose to stay on-island to give birth typically have a number of reasons for doing so. Convenience, a relaxed and home-like atmosphere, the option to choose how they would like to deliver and having the support of a midwife and family through the labor have led many women to decide to have their baby on Molokai, according to Thompson.

“The women who decide to give birth on Molokai want to take advantage of natural options and they want to be around their ohana,” Thompson said. “Ohana is a key part to births on Molokai. They provide wonderful support for moms.”

As a midwife Thompson said she does everything she can to ensure the mother is in a position of comfort. “It’s a happy occasion. Places where families aren’t around take it too seriously,” Thompson said.

Thompson, who began working at the WHC about two years ago, said many people have misconceptions about the center and about giving birth on Molokai. She said among these mistaken beliefs is the idea that the clinic does not have a physician.

“We do have a physician (Dr. Eesha Bhattacharyya) and he comes to the clinic twice a month to see women with complicated pregnancies and gynecological procedures,” Thomson said. Dr. Bhattacharyya collaborates and consults with Thomson, and delivers the babies of Molokai women who fly to Oahu to give birth.
However, even without an OBGYN on the island Thompson is able to provide a warm, welcoming and safe environment for expecting mothers on Molokai. She credits eight years of schooling and versatile Emergency Room (ER) nurses for past successes.

“Our ER nurses are an integral part of the labor and delivery,” Thomson said. “We are blessed with wonderful nurses.” Thomson also credited WHC staff member Phoebe Starkey for keeping the center running smoothly since 1982.

The WHC caters to all women’s health care needs. For more information call 553-3145.

A big mahalo to local vendors: Friendly Market, Misaki’s, Molokai Drugstore, Fish & Dive, Takes, Rawlins, Imports and Molokai General Hospital for donating gifts for the Baby of the Year.





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