Strangers help soldier make it home for birth
Published: December 14, 2007 | 6908th good news item since 2003
Tiffanie Joost knew her husband was facing a lot of odds in making it to the birth of their first child.
But she never could have imagined the incredible journey he would eventually take to get there, and the stranger who would make it all possible.
“We’re really blessed and happy, it is like a Christmas story, a Christmas miracle,” she said.
James Joost is an AT3 in the Navy and is stationed in Brunswick, Maine.
But only a few months into the pregnancy, he was deployed to Japan for six months and Tiffanie returned home to central Illinois to be with family for her pregnancy and birth.
James knew he would return sometime at the end of November and Tiffanie’s due date was Dec. 13. So to be safe, he bought his plane ticket from Maine to Illinois for Monday, Dec. 10.
But there is a saying about the best-laid plans – and it seems to hold especially true when babies are involved.
On Monday, as James was getting ready to board a plane to come see his wife, she called him after a routine prenatal appointment that was changing everything – her blood pressure was alarmingly high and her doctors wanted her admitted immediately to induce labor.
But there was a bad winter storm headed for the Midwest, and flights were being canceled everywhere.
“I felt bad for him because he was en route to get here and all the flights were getting canceled,” said Tiffanie. “He was practically helpless. I have family here so I wouldn’t have been alone, but he just would have been stuck.”
With a stroke of good luck, he managed to get a flight to Cincinnati and a connection to Chicago, but he would arrive too late at night for a bus or train.
Frantic about his situation and nervous about the upcoming birth, he struck up a conversation with the woman sitting next to him on the plane to Chicago.
“She starts to read a book and I’m looking out the window and then I just started talking about how my wife’s about to have a baby,” Joost said.
The woman was Cindy Grady, an airline attendant from Wheaton who was returning home after a four-day work stint.
Immediately, she felt compassion for Joost and she called her husband for help.
“She said, ‘I need a favor Š see what you can do about a bus schedule or a train to Peoria or Bloomington, see you later bye,’” said Grady’s husband, David.
Cindy Grady had to hang up quickly, as the flight was getting ready to take off.
“So I’m thinking, ‘Oh my wife, she’s out of her mind again,’” David Grady said. “Right away I was pretty negative because I knew there wouldn’t be anything available.”
Grady contacted Ground Transportation at O’Hare International Airport, and his 17-year old son Trevor scoured the Internet.
By the time Grady left to pick up his wife at the airport, he knew what he would do – and when he finally heard why Joost needed to get to Pekin that night, there was no doubt in his mind.
“You know, I was at every one of our (four) sons’ and daughters’ births and I wasn’t going to let this guy miss his,” he said. “I told him, ‘You know what? We’ve gotta get you to this birth.’”
Joost was stunned.
“I was speechless,” he said. “I didn’t know if I should be thanking him or running!”
“I said are you kidding me? You’re serious?” Tiffanie said of her reaction to the news that James would be arriving soon. “You don’t hear of things like that except in movies or books, you would never expect some stranger to drive three hours to take some stranger home.”
But that is exactly what Grady intended to do, and after a quick stop in Wheaton to drop off Cindy, they headed out for Pekin.
“We have kids that are around this age and I’ve got a real heart for all these guys and gals that are in the military right now Š having a baby is a huge deal so there was no way not to do this,” Cindy Grady said. “My husband loves helping people, I knew he’d be fine with it.”
Grady had promised Joost he’d be in Pekin within three hours, but right away it became clear the trip wouldn’t be easy.
“We went immediately into fog, we weren’t even 10 minutes from the house,” Grady said. “So a couple miles more and it clears, but it starts raining, then it gets into freezing rain, then fog Š the long of it is we did get there by (3 a.m.) and God was with us all the way. It was his plan to have Jim there for his birth.”
David stayed long enough to meet Tiffanie and wish the couple well, and then he turned around and drove straight back home.
James asked how he could possibly repay the favor, and jokingly David told him, “Name your firstborn after me.”
The baby was born by caesarean section late Tuesday night, well after James arrived at Pekin Hospital early Tuesday morning.
He weighed 7 lb. 14-1/2 oz. and was 19.5 inches long.
His parents think he’s “perfect.”
The Joosts named him James Wesley, named after his father and grandfathers.
But as it turns out, David Grady’s full name is actually David James Grady.
And that’s not the only thing he has in common with this couple.
“I can relate to his trying to get home to see a baby,” Grady said. “For our last baby, Trevor (the one who did the Internet research), I was in Boston when Cindy called me and said, ‘My water just broke and we’re going to the hospital.’”
Grady made a quick call to United Airlines – and arrived back in Chicago in time for the birth.
“I can totally relate with having to get to his wife, so I think that’s great that it worked out,” Grady said.
“Our prayers and best wishes are with this couple.”