Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

New girl in the HOUSE

Isabella didn't hit the button, but mom Jennifer Jones couldn't be happier

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Sure, she hurried a little too hard. A whole month too hard, in fact.

But in the end, Isabella Laing proved to be the sweetest, most perfect delivery of Jennifer Jones's life.

"She's an awesome baby. She's a great sleeper. She's happy. She doesn't cry. She's healthy. She just eats and sleeps and is perfect," the former world champion skip from Winnipeg said Wednesday.

"Honestly, she is the best thing that ever happened to me."

In her first extended comments since Isabella was born a month premature on Nov. 13, Jones explained Wednesday how what was supposed to be a mid-December delivery suddenly -- and scarily -- became a mid-November delivery while she was visiting partner -- and Glenn Howard second -- Brent Laing at his home in southern Ontario earlier this month.

"I had decided to take a bit of an earlier maternity leave and I'd just started when she decided to join us. It caught me completely off guard," Jones said.

"It was scary, just because she was so early. And you wonder if everything is going to be OK."

Jones need not have worried. Not only was Isabella fine, at 7 pounds 6 ounces, she was simply ready to make her worldwide debut, due date be damned.

"She was just healthy and happy in there and wanted out," Jones laughed. "I said to Brent, 'I was eating really healthy and working out -- I just cooked her really quick.' "

Delivery

With no chance to return to Winnipeg to have her scheduled delivery here, Jones instead found herself delivering in a hospital in Barrie she'd never been to before with a doctor she'd never seen before.

That is definitely not the preferred route to do these things, especially when you're a first-time mother. And yet...

"Everything went better than I could have hoped. The labour was great and she came out and was healthy and she didn't even have to go to the nursery, which was fantastic," Jones reflected.

What's more, after spending months parsing flight schedules and curling events and trying to make sure that when she finally did go into labour Laing would be by her side in Winnipeg, Jones said it all proved unnecessary.

"She made it easy for us. All in all, it worked out perfectly. It happened for a reason. In retrospect, I could easily have been on an airplane."

There is one other ancillary benefit to Isabella's early arrival. Jones's original plan to be back on the ice with her team in time for the 2013 Continental Cup in mid-January seemed a little ambitious back when she was only expected to deliver in mid-December, especially given the possibility of being late, as so many first-time mothers are.

But now it's not only possible, it's a virtual certainty she will be back with her team not only for Continental Cup, but also the Manitoba women's provincials at the end of January.

"That's my plan, and I don't see any reason why I can't do that. I threw a few rocks a couple of days ago and I feel great right now," said Jones, who's now back in Winnipeg.

"I didn't throw many rocks. I just wanted to slide and see how it felt. I will get back into it slowly, but it feels great."

 

In the meantime, she and Isabella are spending this week just as curling fans across Canada are spending it -- curled up on the couch watching the draw-by-draw coverage of the Canada Cup of Curling from Moose Jaw live on TSN.

The pair got lucky Wednesday morning when TSN made the Howard-Jeff Stoughton matchup their feature game on the opening draw, giving Isabella a chance to watch her father in action in the first of what will undoubtedly be many, many hours of watching curling while she grows up.

Jones's team is curling in Moose Jaw without her, just as they have all fall. The revamped lineup has third Kaitlyn Lawes throwing skip rocks, while Kristen Wall -- the former third for Ontario's Sherry Middaugh -- throws third. The front end of second Jill Officer and lead Dawn Askin has remained unchanged.

"It's been hard for me this fall not being able to play, but the girls are doing great," Jones said. "And I get to snuggle with my baby, and there's nothing better in the world than that. I just love her to bits."

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 29, 2012 D1

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