Family tailgates in hospital parking lot as baby born amid pandemic

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WHEELING, W. Va. (WTRF) — It’s a girl!

Weighing 7 pounds, 7 ounces and measuring 20 inches long, Skylar Grace McCulley was born at 8:03 a.m. Friday.

“We’re just so, so happy for Skylar to finally be here,” said her aunt, Melissa McCulley.

Melissa McCulley, her mom and Skylar’s grandmother, Roxzann, wanted to be there in person to hold the little bundle of joy, who was delivered by cesarean section, but they knew that, in a pandemic, hospital restrictions would prevent them from doing so.  

So they found another way to be there for new parents Nicole and Brian McCulley, of Moundsville, West Virginia. They decided to tailgate in the parking lot at WVU Medicine Wheeling Hospital. 

“He and Nicole have wanted children for years,” said Melissa McCulley, Brian McCulley’s sister.  “She’s going to be a great mom. He’s going to be a great dad and he’s my hero so, of course, I would be here for him.” 

Melissa and her mom started tailgating at 6 a.m. Friday.

“It’s not very common to tailgate at a parking lot especially without hotdogs and hamburgers and steaks and beer but this is what we did,” said Melissa McCulley. “This is what we did at 6 a.m. We were here bright-eyed waiting for her because that’s what you do for family. You show up in any way shape or form you can.” 

It was a chilly 38 degrees, but the two said there was nowhere else they would rather be. 

“This will be my fourth grandchild, and I was at the hospital until wee hours in the morning sometimes waiting for the birth of my grandchildren,” Roxzann McCulley said. “So I had to be here for this one also.” 

She said Melissa McCulley came up with the tailgating idea.

“I was like all for it and requested the day off work and here we sit since 6 a.m. this morning. No place I’d rather be,” Roxzann McCulley said at the time.

They eagerly waited for the phone call from Brian McCulley about Skylar’s arrival. 

“I’m so proud to call him my brother especially today for him being a first-time dad,” Melissa McCulley said. “He’s a big guy of 6’10”, so him holding a little baby, clearly giant meets little one. It’s an unreal experience to see your hero finally become a dad that he’s wanted for so many years.” 

Roxzann McCulley was quite confident about what her granddaughter would look like. 

“Absolutely felt like my heart was going to explode, of course, when you meet a grandchild for the first time, and every time Nicole went to the doctor’s appointment for an ultrasound, she would send us pictures. The first thing we noticed was she’s going to have little chubby cheeks,” she said.

Labor and delivery room nurse Emily Brown said, “I think it really makes the family feel — even though they can’t be in the hospital waiting room to be there to see the baby — makes them feel connected to the family still and know that they can still be close to their family and this brand new arrival coming into the world today.” 

Brown, who was in the delivery room at the time of the birth, went out to the parking lot to check on the family and offer her congratulations. 

“It’s just a very special moment knowing that they’re here and they can celebrate her little birthday today — just that she’s very newly born and she already has people that love her that they’re waiting in the parking lot is really a cool experience,” Brown said. 

The family was hoping to meet Skylar and hold her for the first time on Monday, Melissa McCulley’s birthday. 

Melissa McCulley predicted that she would be emotional at that first meeting. “Probably cry, we are a crying family. I would almost guarantee I will cry,” she said.

“Like Melissa, we’re a crying family. I’ll be crying. It sounds kind of silly,  but I’ll be relieved because even though you see pictures on the camera, it’s not the same as seeing a child in person to know that they’re here and they’re healthy. So seeing them for the first time will be a nice relief, ” said Skylar’s grandmother. “I’m very, very excited. Can’t wait.” 

Skylar’s aunt said, “From the first moment, from the thought of her coming into this world, she was loved and she’s gonna be loved for years upon years after.” 

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