URBANA — Some unsuspecting baby is about to become the first new Champaign County resident of 2014.
When he or she finally enters the world, amid the shock of the delivery and that first bath, there will likely be much rejoicing among family members grateful for a healthy baby — and the claim to a "first."
"It's a fun thing," said Elizabeth Giger of Philo, whose daughter was the New Year's baby of 2013.
Samantha Giger was born at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana at 7:37 a.m. Jan. 1, 2013, — her actual due date.
"When I first realized I was pregnant, before I'd even been to the doctor, I plugged in the dates to some online calculator and it came up with Jan. 1 as the due date," her mother said. "She came right on time."
There have been years, nurses say, when moms raced to have the New Year's baby. And there was a set of New Year's twins at some point. But with more than 2,500 deliveries a year, the details are a bit of a blur, confessed Lisa Sigwald, nurse manager for Carle's Mother and Baby unit.
The hospital doesn't really plan a big celebration for the New Year's baby, she said. The last was for the Millennium Baby born on Jan. 1, 2000.
"That was a big day. We had balloons and baskets. We haven't done that for awhile," Sigwald said. "But it's still exciting."
Nurses vie to be on hand for the New Year's delivery. Emily Remington just missed the Gigers' birth last year, as her shift ended at 7 a.m.
"That was the closest I ever got," she said.
And they're a bit competitive with their neighbors down the street at Presence Covenant Medical Center, said nurse Mindy Shelton.
"We always want to be the winner," agreed nurse Kirsten Hughes.
Whether there's a big media fuss is up to the family, but Sigwald has never had anyone refuse the attention.
"They do kind of see it as a badge of honor," she said.
Giger and her husband, Daniel, didn't expect to have the honor last year, given the lateness of their daughter's arrival. They got to the hospital around 4:30 a.m., so "we figured there'd probably been 10 before us," she said.
"Whenever she came was just fine," she said, though Daniel Giger just might have been rooting for Dec. 31 for the tax exemption. (Sigwald has seen that more than once.)
"I think my husband was hoping for a year's worth of diapers or something," Giger added.
This year, there are three deliveries scheduled for Dec. 31, any of which could linger into the wee morning hours of Jan. 1. There will likely be a few unplanned deliveries as well.
The holidays are typically a slow period for births, with 10 or so a day compared with 20 in July and August, Sigwald said. Physicians tend to schedule fewer inductions and C-sections over Christmas and New Year's because they're on vacation.
"Summer is typically our peak," Sigwald said.
"Everyone wants maternity leave over the summer," added Carle spokeswoman Kelli Anderson.
For Samantha's first birthday, the Gigers are planning a quiet family party with grandparents and other relatives. Logistics for holiday birthdays can be tricky; the family traveled to Mississippi for Christmas, so "I had to be on the ball and get things done ahead of time," Giger said.
It will be bittersweet, as her grandfather died the same day her daughter was born.
Giger said her other daughters — Analise, 5, and Natalie, 3 — didn't really grasp the significance of their sister's birth date.
"They know Christmas. New Year's is a little more vague. I don't think they quite understand what a year is, much less the first of the year," she said. "They'll probably think it's cool later on."