Snowed in under a foot of Christmas white, a young mother was able to get to the hospital, where her daughter was born, making for a most unforgettable
'Gift of life and love'

By Russ Gifford
(Originally published in The Weekender,  12/19/02)

Photo by Russ Gifford

Donna Wynn had to face a foot of snow on Christmas day 1968, when her daughter was born. The two have been together each year for the special day.

Though her present didn't arrive until late in the evening that Christmas, it was still "the best present ever," says Donna Wynn, a fifth-grade teacher in Sioux City. "It is a gift that has been with me ever since."

And it's one she'll never forget. Donna's gift is Dawn, her daughter, who was born Christmas day 1968. "She is also my best friend," she said.

Donna, who had moved to Sioux City only a few months before, was pregnant that snowy season. Weather notwithstanding, the young mother-to-be realized that her child would be born that day, either at the hospital or in the apartment.

"It had snowed something like 12 inches. We were living on Jennings Street, and like the rest of the city, we were snowed in," she says. But Donna had to get to the hospital. After nine months, her gift refused to wait.

While her husband spent the afternoon digging out the car, Donna began to wonder if they'd get to the hospital in time. "We weren't sure we'd make it to St. Vincent's [now the northern building of Mercy Medical]. Though it was only a few blocks away, it wasn't like I could walk there."

Pausing, Donna smiles. "There were these three nurses upstairs in the apartment building, and they were a big help." The women put Donna at ease, and calmed her, telling her everything would be fine, that she had time. "Though they weren't all that much older than I was, they really made me feel better," she says as she recalls that special Christmas. "We did make it to the hospital, since we were so close, but that wasn't the end of the adventure." The rest of the city was still snowed in. Donna's doctor could not make it to the hospital.

"This gift was not going to wait, and my doctor couldn't get there, so my baby was delivered by someone I'd never met before." The birth, at 10:30 p.m. on Christmas evening, went fine, and as Donna was wheeled to her room, she thought, "What a perfect gift."

Over the past 34 years, mother and daughter have shared that birthday every year, and much more. Now married, daughter Dawn Wynn-Bucy recently moved to Des Moines, but she and Donna remain close. "I was right," says Donna. "Through it all, she is still my perfect gift."

Dawn's reaction to her mother's letter about 'her perfect Christmas gift?' "Ohhhhh, get the tissues," says Dawn, tears welling up in her eyes. Both women laugh, but the same tears of joy are in her mother's eyes. "I don't know where we'll be, but I know we'll be together on Christmas," says Donna. "We have been every year."

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