Celebration of a life that's full of babies
A Nelson GP who has talked no fewer than 3000 women through the pain, tears, laughter and occasional cussing associated with childbirth was finally lost for words last night.
"Super Doc" Janice Jolly was overcome at the sight of family, friends, colleagues and parents gathered at Melrose House for a surprise celebration marking her 30 years of providing a maternity service in Nelson.
She even wiped away a few tears as husband Ken Jolly embraced her.
"I had no idea. I knew my kids were organising something, which I thought was going to be a meal at home," Dr Jolly said after she had managed to catch her breath.
To help mark the event, 30-year-old David Lindqvist - Dr Jolly's first delivery in Nelson on 12.12.82 - arrived with his wife, Donna, and their newborn son, Jack, who was delivered by Dr Jolly at 12.10pm on 10.11.12.
Mr Lindqvist, a Nelson electrician, does not remember a thing around events 30 years ago, but the birth of his own son is indelibly etched in his memory.
Nelson doctor Rob Riley, who in 2008 was the last Nelson GP to quit obstetric services, said in introducing Mr Lindqvist last night that he would be "passed around for a cuddle later".
Also present were Nelson glass artists Ola and Marie Hoglund, who belonged to one of three generations of family cared for by Dr Jolly, and teenage saxophonist Eilish Wilson, who was delivered by Dr Jolly and who provided music at last night's event.
GP colleague and co-organiser of the celebration Ngaire Warner said Dr Jolly was now the last remaining GP in the Nelson region still delivering babies. She was also one of only a handful of solo practitioners left in Nelson, meaning she not only provided maternity care but ran a GP practice "virtually without a break".
She encouraged Dr Jolly to relax last night by saying all the women in her care and due within the next few weeks were under "strict instructions to keep their legs crossed and not go into labour tonight".
Dr Riley said Dr Jolly had delivered at least 3000 babies in her 30 years in Nelson, many of whom featured on a special photographic "brag board" she kept.
He recounted times when Dr Jolly had worked through the night on a delivery and still showed up at the practice the next day, most often in a dazed state, and once or twice wearing mismatching shoes.
In that time she and her husband raised their own four children, Mark, Kristina, David and Carrie, who had gathered in Nelson for Mark's wedding on Saturday and who were all there last night.
"It began in 1982 with [retired obstetrician] Brian Neill as our mentor. In the 1990s Helen Clark reformed maternity services and as a result GPs left in droves, but not Janice," Dr Riley said.
He and Dr Jolly had shared many successes and tragedies, and over time had learned when to adopt their "special face" which they pulled when couples named their babies in ways that meant school would be hard for them.
Dr Warner said Dr Jolly was held in very high regard by the community, proved by those who turned out last night to join in the celebration.
Dr Jolly has a planner full of deliveries to carry on with next year.
The Nelson Mail