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The tiniest blessings are the biggest for Bailey
Andrew Bailey's little treasure was born several weeks early, went home several weeks late and is now the cause of a large portion of joy Bailey will be feeling this holiday season.

Theodora Bailey came into the world on July 2, a day or two before Amanda Bailey was supposed to have her baby shower.

"It's funny, we were supposed to deliver in Boston, she was due in August, my wife went home for a baby shower in Connecticut and a couple of days before the baby shower, we were on the road in Seattle and she decided to join the party," said Bailey. "It was a blessing that she was able to give birth in Connecticut and she was taken care of at [Yale-New Haven Hospital]."

Typically, newborns stay in the hospital with their mother for a couple of days and then go home. But because Theodora was premature, and thus still developing, she wouldn't go home until early September.

It was a hectic time for the family. Bailey was in the final stages of a comeback from surgery on his right thumb, which had kept him out for the first four and a half months of the season, and he was bouncing between the team's Spring Training site in Fort Myers, Fla., Boston and whatever road spots the Red Sox were playing in.

But with Theodora grounded, so to speak, Amanda had to stay in Connecticut instead of living in Boston with her husband.

"My wife is very strong and was by [our daughter's] side day in and day out," said Bailey. "She's a saint. We have a strong backbone with her as the mom of the family."

Truth be told, it wasn't all that easy for Bailey either, who pitched his first game for the Red Sox on Aug. 14.

"For sure, having a first child or any child is a life-changing experience," he said. "To be able to experience that and then come to find out that she has to stay in Connecticut for two months and not really see my wife or her for a lot of the season, it was difficult. But I was able to drive home after some night games and then take off the next afternoon back up to Boston."

That's what Bailey thought he was doing on a team off-day in early September.

"I drove home from Boston [to Connecticut], it was an off-day. My wife didn't tell me that [the baby] was getting discharged," said Bailey. "She said, 'Just stop by my mom's house before you head to the hospital and pick me up.' I said, 'OK.'

"I walked into my mother-in-law's house, and my wife was holding our daughter in the kitchen. I was flipping out. I was like, 'Whose kid is that?' She was like, 'Yeah, she was discharged this morning, and I wanted to surprise you.' It was the greatest surprise of my life."

Finally, Theodora -- named after Amanda's father, Theodore -- made it home.

"We were able to put her in the car and turn around and head back up to Boston, so we had her up in Boston for a couple of weeks at the end of the season, and it was great just kind of walking around, enjoying the time," said Bailey. "It was a blessing in disguise that she came that late in the season. Now she's completely healthy, and we're able to enjoy her at home and just kind of do the normal things, and I get to be around her every day."

Most important, Theodora is completely healthy -- just a normal baby who was born premature.

"Everything worked out well," Bailey said. "She just needed some time to grow a little bit more and develop. She's doing really well and right on track. It's been awesome. She's beautiful, and I wouldn't change it for the world."

Change is the new buzzword in the Bailey family. They see them on a near daily basis.

"Being around every single day, you see changes, especially at this point and time," Bailey said. "She's changing every couple of days, doing something different. It's awesome to see and awesome to witness that.

"The way things worked out was great, and it's an exciting offseason for us, especially with the holidays coming up, with Thanksgiving and Christmas and all that stuff. It will be the first for a lot of things."

Ian Browne is a reporter for Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne.

Boston Red Sox, Andrew Bailey