The Baby That Was Born on the Mayflower

I didn’t get a blog up on Friday because I spent the weekend at home visiting the newest edition of the family!

Welcome Sarai Lorraine!


It’s baby city in my families as both my sister and Joe’s just had little ones. We have a healthy baby girl and boy to celebrate Thanksgiving with this year. Both moms had some difficulty with labor, and it sure makes me grateful for modern medicine, knowing they (and babies) were in good hands.

I’m blogging about Thanksgiving this month and in honor of our little ones, I thought I’d share this story…

The only baby born on the Mayflower belonged to Stephen and Elizabeth Hopkins. They named their son Oceanus in honor of the voyage.

Imagine being pregnant and packed below ship with 101 other people for months on end!

When the Mayflower originally sailed from England, it was to be accompanied by another ship, the Speedwell. Rumor has it that one of the voyage benefactors wasn’t too keen on the trip and purchased sails much too large for the Speedwell’s frame. When the crew raised the sails, they caught the wind so strongly that the beams cracked, turning the Speedwell into the Sinkwell.

Aboard the Mayflower II

Aboard the Mayflower II

Both ships had to turn back and families were forced to make the difficult decision of either staying in England and departing at a future date, or crowding onto the Mayflower, setting sail for the New World. Some families even split up, leaving the women and children behind and sending their men to procure land and prepare homes.

For the Hopkins family, the journey was a tumultuous one. The Mayflower had a boxy shape to it which offered some resistance to the bouncing waves, but didn’t counteract them altogether. The pilgrims were considered the worst lot on the boat. Captain Miles Standish, a fiery redhead with a temper to match, was a military man who hadn’t much use for farmers and families aboard his ship. Many of the pilgrims became seasick and the soldiers on board mocked their lack of sea legs.

What the crew's quarters probably looked like.

What the crew’s quarters probably looked like.

Below deck, the pilgrims crowded with their families as well as livestock into small bunks with nothing more than curtains for privacy. The noise was one matter, and the smells were an entirely different one.

Such was the environment that Elizabeth Hopkins gave birth in. And Oceanus was born.

These babies and their mothers remind me what we’re capable of. They overcome unbearable pain, the sense of being out of control, and yet so incredibly focused all at the same time. And they introduce us to the very essence of hope – a new child. What a perfect reminder to be grateful. Grateful for every day we have with our family. For every adventure we embark on – whether we know what that new world will bring or not. For every lesson learned along the way.

Here’s my gratitude list from this weekend:

  1. Holding baby Sarai.
  2. Hugging my sister and brother-in-law.
  3. Sleeping next to Sonja (Sarai’s 4 year old big sister) who kicked me in the ribs, butt, and thigh repeatedly on the hour every hour for two nights in a row. Once the soreness fades, I’ll remember how we got to snuggle in the early morning and she told me how excited she was to go home with mommy and daddy and her new sister.
  4. Concealer, to hide my lack of sleep. Coffee for the drive home.
  5. Being an aunt to some truly loveable kids, all five of them.

What’s on your gratitude list this week?

28 responses

  1. Wow, makes me appreciate the lives we have now, compared to what Elizabeth went through. This week, I’m thankful for being able to live in a safe place and some pretty darn nice neighbors!

    1. Neighbors really make or break a place don’t they? I wish we had some better ones. Glad you are safe and happy.

  2. Congratulations on the newest addition to your family! So cute!!! Big sister is a cool sleeper, too–LOL. I’ve been kicked in the head a few times, so I feel for you. 😉

    Thanks for sharing Oceanus’s story. That’s quite a name for a tiny baby.

    1. Thank you Diana!

      Yah Oceanus is a mouthful when everyone else is named William, Mary, and Mercy.

  3. Congratulation, Auntie Jess! That’s a whole lot of wonderful gratitude there! I’m grateful I didn’t give birth on the Mayflower.

    1. Lol! I’m pretty sure my sister is too!

  4. Congratulations to all!

  5. Congratulations to your families. I just had a slumber party with my two little granddaughters. Not having slept well, I appreciate being able to have the opportunity to have some grandma time with just them, a movie, and dinner.

  6. Congratulations, Jess! There is just nothing like a new born babe… Thanks for the informative tale of Oceanus (I found myself wondering if that became a family name?)! I’m thankful for everything – it’s a wonderful life 🙂

    1. Thanks Dorie! I love my new baby niece so much!

  7. Beautiful post, Jess. Congrats on your family’s latest addition! I completely relate to your auntie-love. I have 8 nieces and 1 nephew on the way, and every trip home is chock full of fun.

    I’m feeling grateful for my sibs and their kids as well, the love I can feel across the miles, my dog’s over-the-top sweetness, friends, my Christmas pants and inspiring postal like these.

    1. Beautiful comment August! I love being an aunt too! Congrats on your new little one on the way.

  8. Thanks for the history lesson! I’ve never heard of Oceanus, and had forgotten about the SInkwell…err, Speedwell. And I call myself a History minor. Hah! (Congrats on the newborn niece and nephew, as well).

    1. I don’t think I knew you were a history major. Very cool. Thanks for the congrats Mark. I think I’ll keep both of them around. 😉

      1. History minor. Not nearly as impressive. I think I only had to take 5 classes to satisfy that requirement. On the plus side, I can tell you all you need to know about the Vietnam war!

        1. I’ll keep that in mind.

  9. Congratulations on your family’s new arrivals! My family is also full of active sleepers. Been kicked by the best of them. Today I’m grateful for all the men and women who so bravely served our country in the military giving their time, strength and sometimes their lives to ensure we can live free and comfortably.

    1. Thanks Coleen! I’m excited!

  10. Awww, nothing like a brand new baby gazing up at you. Especially when it’s family! Congrats to your sis and BIL and their new addition, and congrats to you for becoming an auntie once again. Your family has MUCH to be thankful for this holiday season. Mazel Tov!

    1. Thank you Misty! I’ve got some pretty adorable faces to stare at this holiday season for sure! LOL

  11. You made me cry! I’m printing this one for the baby book. Thanks for being such a wonderful and caring aunt.

    1. Awww, thanks sis! Love your girls and you bunches! So glad I got to spend the weekend with you all.

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