Just after 11 p.m. Oct. 11, Elliot Matthew’s cries filled the delivery room.
He soon nestled into the chest of his mother, Kelsey Lavalard, as his father, Nic Lavalard, stayed close by.
“Hi, buddy,” Kelsey said. “I’m right here, honey.”
The tender family moment became even more special because the doctor who had just delivered Elliot had also delivered Kelsey 31 years ago.
And that’s just the beginning.
Dorsey Ligon, MD, an OB-GYN with Spectrum Health Medical Group, also delivered Kelsey and Nic’s older son, Oliver, two years ago, as well as delivering Kelsey’s two sisters: Lindsey, in 1983, and Megan, in 1984.
And there’s more: Dr. Ligon also delivered Lindsey’s two children, William, in 2009, and Claire, in 2011. The doctor also provided care for Kelsey’s grandmother.
That’s three generations of deliveries and medical care under Dr. Ligon.
With 40 years of experience, it is perhaps not so unusual that Dr. Ligon is now delivering the babies of former babies.
“It’s happening a lot now,” Dr. Ligon said.
And now that he’s a grand-doctor, what should he expect next? To become a “great grand-doctor,” he joked.
Dr. Ligon’s relationship with Kelsey’s family began in 1980 when her mother, Diane Legate, had just turned 21. Diane, then a recent graduate of nursing school at Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital, remembers Dr. Ligon as a great doctor.
“He was friendly and nice,” Diane said. “And I saw how much his patients seemed to like him when he was in the hospital delivering babies.”
She became his patient and would later work a short time in his office as a nurse.
In the 1980s, Dr. Ligon delivered all three of Diane’s daughters.
From 1992 to 2002, the Legate family lived in Montana. Diane would see Dr. Ligon for appointments when she visited Grand Rapids, Michigan, a few times each year.
One of Diane’s daughters, Megan Gibson, moved away from Grand Rapids, but Lindsey Osterhaven and Kelsey Lavalard stayed and became Dr. Ligon’s patients.
For Lindsey, it had been an easy decision to have him deliver her children.
“He has such a great bedside manner,” Lindsey said. “He’s very personable and I just have so much respect for him. … He loves what he does.”
Lindsey, a nurse who previously worked for Spectrum Health, counted it a privilege to care for Dr. Ligon when he became the patient.
Twelve years ago, Dr. Ligon suffered a heart attack while performing a C-section on twins at Butterworth Hospital.
“It frightened a lot of people,” Dr. Ligon said. “My wife is still traumatized. She got the call at 2 a.m. that I was down.”
He’s grateful for the care he received, including being one of the first patients to receive therapeutic hypothermia treatment for cardiac arrest.
“I was in the right place at the right time,” he said.
Following in the footsteps of her mother and sister, Kelsey also found it easy to choose Dr. Ligon for her child’s delivery.
“I just thought it would be cool to say that the same doctor who delivered me, delivered my son,” Kelsey said.
With her oldest son, Oliver, Kelsey labored for 27 hours without much progress before Dr. Ligon called for an emergency C-section.
“I knew that whatever decision he made, I could trust 100 percent,” Kelsey said.
Noting her own petite frame, Kelsey remembers well that Oliver weighed in at 9 pounds, 10 ounces.
When she became pregnant again, she asked Dr. Ligon if she could try for a vaginal birth after C-section. He agreed she would be a candidate, but they scheduled a C-section for Oct. 15 just in case.
On the evening of Oct. 10, Kelsey’s water broke.
As the hours passed, she continued to progress enough that Dr. Ligon let her proceed.
By 8 p.m. Oct. 11, she was finally ready to start pushing.
Dr. Ligon performs limited night and weekend deliveries now, but he made sure he was there for Kelsey and Nic.
“It’s a testament to how wonderful he is,” Kelsey said.
As Diane left the delivery room that night, she wished her daughter well and then joked with Dr. Ligon.
“You got mine out in 20 minutes way back when,” Diane said.
As Kelsey labored, Diane and Lindsey and Nic’s parents sat in the waiting room down the hall, anticipating every update.
Dr. Ligon greeted them with the good news of Elliot’s arrival.
“Congratulations,” he said.
“Thank you so much,” Diane said. She gave him a hug, much as she probably did all those years ago.
Dr. Ligon seemed to bask in the family’s excitement.
“I just love what I do,” he said.