Nancy Ray was certain she was pregnant with a girl. However, after a laborious birth, the parents were shocked by a newborn baby boy. The photo of that moment—full of heart and joy—went viral, but most people don’t know the full story behind it, which includes a heavy snowstorm and two strains of flu as Nancy went into labor.
Why Did They Think the Baby was a Girl?
For their two previous children, Milly and Lyndon, the couple wanted to be surprised by the baby’s sex at birth. Yet after two girls in a row (both of which they erroneously suspected to be boys,) the husband dearly wanted a son. This time the couple decided to learn the sex of the baby during one of the ultrasound appointments.
“He wanted some time to process if we were having a third girl,” writes Nancy on her blog. “Ha! Who could blame him?”
At home, they opened the envelope to read it’s a girl. They were thrilled. After coming from families full of boys, they never thought they’d have a daughter, let alone three.
Many have questioned Nancy if she noticed the correct sex of the baby in other ultrasounds. The answer was no because there were no other full ultrasounds. Nancy was fortunate enough to have no complications that would require them. She did have a scan to ensure the baby was positioned head down, but the process was too quick to see anything conflicting with the, ‘it’s a girl’ sheet.
“It was just an honest error,” Nancy says. “I’m not mad about it or anything. It turned into a great story.”
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So apparently this photo is going a bit viral, but most don’t know the full story! So in case you missed it, here it is in a nutshell! April 14: Surprise! I’m pregnant! June 9: You’re having your third girl! We were gender surprised with our first two babies but my husband insisted to know if he was having three girls so he could mentally prepare haha! December 8: Snow and ice storm shuts down raleigh. I am positive I’ll give birth without electricity at home. Thankfully that did not happen. December 10: Baby girl is due December 12: I get the stomach bug all day & my husband is diagnosed with 2 strains of the flu that night (and let me just say puking while 40w2d pregnant is a unique kind of awful) December 13: I drive to the birth center with intense contractions with my mom at 11am and meet my hubby there (he spent the night at his moms because #flu). Two hours later, my baby was born with me halfway in the tub! 15 minutes later, we went to cut the chord and I said… “WHAT IS THAT?!? Is this a boy baby!!? Indeed, it was a boy! 🤣💙 My husband @willrray quickly lifted his leg to check and then proceeded to literally fall on the floor. (The picture above is him checking!) I will forever advocate for birth photography because this is one of my very favorite photos of all time. Thank you @laurenjollyphoto !! 💕 #beaufortandmama #beaufortraytoday Full blogpost is in a link in my profile with all the pics from that day! nancyray.com/blog
The Week Before the Birth
Two days before her due date, it snowed seven inches, a rarity in Raleigh, North Carolina. Stores and schools shut down, and the roads were a nightmare.
At 3 a.m., the contractions began coming 10 minutes apart. The couple braced themselves to drive in a snowstorm over black ice, but the midwife encouraged her to drink and sleep one more hour. To Nancy’s surprise, the contractions disappeared. She hadn’t experienced prodromal labor with her girls.
The day before her due date, they lost power. They packed up the house, put perishable foods into coolers on the back porch, and loaded up the car with a crying toddler. As they pulled out of their driveway, the lights returned, to their relief and chagrin.
Her due date was uneventful.
The day after was too.
The next day—the day before her actual birth—Nancy had a fever and vomited almost everything she ate. She was relieved when her husband came home—finally someone to take care of her—but he arrived with a fever of 102.5 degrees. He went to the doctor and tested positive for both strains of the flu.
Nancy couldn’t believe it. “Are you serious right now?” She thought. “I’m two days overdue with baby number three, sick as can be, and you have two strains of the flu?”
They decided he should stay at his mother’s that night to prevent spreading the infection to Nancy and their girls.
While Nancy packed an overnight bag for him, a weakness fell over her. It became difficult to complete her simple task. Will threw up in the bush outside their home when he came to pick up the bag. The couple, both fatigued and sick, waved miserably at each other as he drove away.
That night was awful for the lonely Nancy. She woke up every hour from refluxes, contractions, and fever sweats. Yet she was starting to feel better. The vomiting stopped and she could sip water.
The Day of the Birth
The next morning, the contractions came 10 minutes apart. Nancy grabbed her overnight bag, knowing intuitively she wasn’t coming home that night. Will met her at the birth center.
“I was so grateful for his presence,” says Nancy. “He was still sick with the flu… He was ready to support me however he needed to, face mask and all.”
She needed his reassurance as the labor progressed. Dehydration, sickness, and the contractions left her weak and on the verge of a breakdown.
“I want to go to the hospital and get an epidural. I don’t want to be a hero today,” she declared.
The midwife called the hospital and returned with an ultimatum. Nancy could be transferred, but her husband with his flu could not accompany her.
Nancy didn’t hesitate. “Then I’m not going.” She was not giving birth without Will present.
After two hours, the baby was born, a girl the couple assumed. Nancy hugged the child, basking in her relief and joy.
When it was time to cut the umbilical cord, Nancy turned the baby over. “What is that? Is this a baby boy?”
Will ran over to check for himself and in that moment of shock and joy, the viral photo was captured.
After 12 hours of recovery and a visit from their daughters, Nancy and Will went home with their newborn son, Beaufort. They thought the story was over for them.
On her blog, Nancy posted about the birth with its photography, as she did with her two previous babies. However, the photo, which shows Nancy’s eyes wide with surprise and Will peeking into the baby blanket, amassed over 11,000 likes on her Instagram.  
As it turned out, the baby boy wasn’t the only surprise for the happy family.
- Nancy Ray’s Viral Photo https://www.instagram.com/p/Bw3L5KElfyc/
- Beaufort’s Birth Story https://nancyray.com/blog/2019/1/4/beauforts-birth-story-part-1
- Featured Image credit: Lauren Jolly Photography
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