SHELDON—Scott and Emily Ney have always wanted to have children.
The Sheldon couple are the proud parents of a 2-year-old son named Matthias and were looking forward to welcoming a daughter into the world this winter. Emily’s due date for Rowyn Ann Ney had been Jan. 1.
However, Emily knew something was wrong with Rowyn late Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 21 — the day before Thanksgiving.
“She normally took a nap — moms just know their babies’ movements — in the afternoon,” Emily said. “When I would eat a late supper, she would start waking up and she’d move and kick like crazy.
“When she wasn’t moving, I was nervous,” she said. “I was nervous, so I was eating sugar and I was chugging cold water. I was lying on my left side and I was praying and praying and praying.”
Scott and Emily went that evening to the Orange City Area Health System, where three nurses spent about 45 minutes looking for Rowyn’s heartbeat. They could not find one.
“It was the worst, the worst night of my life,” Emily said. “I can’t even describe how awful it was.”
Rowyn was 34 weeks and one day old when she suffered an umbilical cord accident that took her life while she still was inside Emily’s womb.
‘We were so excited’
Staff members at the Orange City hospital recommended that the young couple — Scott is 26 and Emily is 25 — go to the Sanford USD Medical Center in Sioux Falls, SD.
“They were more trained for situations like ours,” Emily said.
Scott and Emily came home to Sheldon at about 2 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 22, and left for Sioux Falls later that morning.
They checked in at about 9 a.m. and were taken to the Sanford USD Medical Center’s Medical Building 3.
Because her body was not ready to give birth naturally, Emily was started at about noon on Pitocin, the synthetic version of oxytocin, which is a natural hormone that assists a woman’s uterus in contracting during labor.
Emily’s entire labor took 11 hours and 55 minutes. Rowyn was born sleeping at 11:55 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. She weighed 5 pounds, 4.5 ounces; and measured 18.5 inches long.
“We were so excited for Rowyn,” Emily said. “Our hearts were truly broken.”
‘Part of our family’
Despite the nightmarish situation they have endured, the couple have established the Rowyn Ann Ney Memorial Nursing Scholarship at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion in honor of their infant daughter.
“We love our baby girl so, so, so much,” Emily said. “Even though our daughter is gone, she’s still very much a part of our family. We make her very much a part of every day, and that’s going to continue for the rest of our lives.”
Scott and Emily were inspired to set up the college scholarship by the nurses who took care of and comforted them and their family during their nearly 30-hour stay at the Sanford USD Medical Center.
“The nurses there were truly incredible,” Emily said. “The nurses there made our situation survivable. Truly, without their guidance and their help and their love, I think the experience would have been very different.
“As horrific as our situation was, the nurses there — they hugged us, they cried with us, they watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with us, they watched football with us,” she said. “They were just truly incredible.”
Scott, a delivery driver for Deluxe Animal Health in Sheldon, wholeheartedly agreed.
“They just made the experience from the worst thing in the world to something you could get through,” he said. “They were very compassionate toward us and they gave us whatever we needed.”
Emily, a first-grade teacher at East Elementary in Sheldon, mentioned when she and Scott came up with the idea for establishing a college scholarship for nursing students.
“We were lying in the hospital on Thanksgiving Day,” she said. “I just kept thinking that something good has to come of this.
“This is the worst thing in our world, but something good has to come,” she said. “Scotty and I discussed it and we decided that we were going to set up a nursing scholarship just because the nurses there were just so inspiring.”
The Sheldon High School sweethearts — they were married on July 23, 2016 — decided to set up the scholarship at USD because Emily attended the college.
She graduated from the university in 2016 with a double major in elementary education and special education.
“As much as we’d like to pay for our daughter’s college education, that’s not possible, so we’d really like to pay it forward in hopes that a family like us will be able to receive comfort like we did,” Emily said.
Her brother 22-year-old Christopher Jansen graduated in December from USD with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and is going for a master’s degree in professional accountancy from the college.
“We have strong ties to USD; we love it,” Emily said of her family. “I lived with some girls in the nursing program, so I know how intense it is and I know how competitive it is. The people in the program want to be nurses and are dedicated to the profession.
“It’d be a perfect fit for the money to go to a nurse at USD,” she said of the scholarship. “We just wanted someone who’s going to be really dedicated to the program and dedicated to labor and delivery since that’s where we received our help.”