Battling a winter storm and icy roads, Henry and Bridget Gonzales made the 45-minute drive from Bayfield to usher in the first baby of 2017 born at Mercy Regional Medical Center on Tuesday.
Kozell Anna Marie Gonzales was delivered at 1 a.m., weighing 7 pounds and 14 ounces.
“She’s bigger than her brother (at birth),” said Bridget Gonzales, as the couple’s 3-year-old son, Cruz, stood at his mother’s bedside. The family chose to not know the baby’s gender beforehand, but Cruz said he was pulling for a baby sister.
Henry Gonzales, holding the newborn baby named after his great-grandmother, said the couple left their Bayfield home with plenty of time to navigate the treacherous winter conditions.
When they arrived at Mercy they learned from the nurses they were going to hold the title of the first child born at the hospital in the new year. Though a few minutes later, when another couple arrived, that mark of distinction was at risk.
“I told Bridget she better start pushing because we’re going to make it first. and she looked at me like, ‘Yeah right,’” Henry joked.
The second baby of 2017 was delivered at 3:01 a.m.
Bridget said the delivery went smoothly, and Mercy staff members were “fantastic,” just as they had been with the birth of Cruz three years earlier. Mercy employees gave the family a gift basket, as well as a hand-weaved hat that had “2017 #1” stitched in for Kozell. The family is planning to leave the hospital Wednesday.
Henry and Bridget have been married five years. Henry works at Eagle Crane in Durango, as well as Purgatory Resort, and Bridget works at Tailwind Nutrition in Bayfield.
“When we came in we definitely didn’t expect to have the first baby born of the year,” Henry said. “But we’re healthy and happy, and everyone’s in love. We got a little snow baby.”
According to a nurse at the Mercy Family Birth Center, 937 babies were born in 2016 at Mercy, a bit fewer than the historic average.