Twenty-two years ago, the Santa Rosa Birth Center welcomed its very first delivery: a happy, healthy baby boy, Pierce Dutil, on Nov. 2, 1993.
On May 5, the center’s now-22-year-old baby No. 1 came in with his partner, Katie Hansen, to give birth to their own baby No. 1, and the center’s baby No. 3,610.
When Pierce Dutil’s mom, Mae, was 40, she found the birth center toward the end of her pregnancy.
It was new then; owner Rosanne Gephart was still decorating and after Mae Dutil quit her office manager job at the end of the summer, she helped Gephart set up the center.
“There I was, seven or so months pregnant, wallpapering and hanging out,” said Dutil, who lives in Bennett Valley.
When she learned her only child’s girlfriend was having a baby, Dutil had to show her where Pierce was born.
“It hasn’t changed much since,” she said. “I gave her a little tour of the room and the bathtub that I used when I had Pierce, and when we left she told me that that’s what she wanted to do.”
Dutil started thinking about having children while in her early 20s during the 1970s. By 1993, she had stored up two decades’ worth of clippings from newspapers and magazines about birthing practices.
At first, she wanted a home birth, but reconsidered after talking with family and friends. That’s when she found the birth center. After meeting with Gephart at what was then called the Women’s Health and Birth Center, she knew it was the right choice.
“It felt like home,” Dutil said.
The Santa Rosa Birth Center is the second oldest birth center in the state. Gephart started it as a place where natural births and midwifery were prioritized.
Gephart said what makes the Santa Rosa center a little different is that if a pregnancy becomes complicated, it has hospital privileges.
Hansen’s birth went perfectly, and at 3:33 p.m., Liam Emil Dutil was born in the same room as his father.
“I was just thrilled to death to be able to share probably the most important time of my life with Katie,” Dutil said. “And for her to be so into it was such a blessing.”
Liam is 2 weeks old now. Liam’s dad said things have been crazy, but the couple’s families have helped out. His own dad, John, 56, has turned into a “big ball of mush” since becoming a grandpa. “He texts me and he wants to know when Liam’s coming over,” Pierce Dutil said. “It’s been pretty fun to watch.”
The family tradition is one he hopes to continue in years to come — someday standing by Liam’s side as he welcomes his own child into the world.
You can reach Staff Writer Christi Warren at 521-5205 or christi.warren@press democrat.com.