With gifts ranging from infant T-shirts to teddy bears, Cape Girardeau's two hospitals readied to ring in the new year with the area's first New Year's babies.
But by 8:30 p.m., the guest of honor hadn't shown up at either hospital, with no births and little for obstetric nurses to celebrate.
Southeast Missouri Hospital has been delivering babies since 1928. The hospital, which delivers about 1,600 babies a year on average, almost always delivers at least one baby on New Year's Day.
"At least in recent years, I can't remember a New Year's Day without a baby," said hospital spokeswoman Sally Owen, who has worked there since 1986.
"We really look forward to the first baby because it is always kind of a fun thing," she said. "The parents are always so pleased that they have the first one born."
Across town at St. Francis Medical Center, no one was partying either. The birthing rooms were empty.
The hospital delivered babies from 1925 to 1966, after which it closed its obstetrics unit, saying there wasn't enough demand.
In September, the medical center got back into the baby business, opening its new Family BirthPlace.
Since then, it has delivered 107 babies. "That's quite a few," said nurse Bridget Straedey, who had hoped to help bring a new baby into the world on Tuesday.
"We pretty much have a baby a day," said Straedey. But that didn't happen on New Year's Day.
The first-baby celebration is a regular part of the New Year's holiday at Southeast Hospital.
"We had the traditional gifts for the first baby all wrapped up and ready to go," Owen said. The gifts include a handmade baby quilt, a frame for the baby's first picture, a teddy bear and a flower arrangement for the new mom.
"Our teddy bear is looking for a new home. We hope he finds one soon," she said.
Several babies were born at Southeast Missouri Hospital on Monday, but none late in the day.
The newest baby at St. Francis Medical Center was born on Monday morning. The baby boy and his mother were discharged Tuesday afternoon.
Straedey said she and the other nurses on her watch at the medical center spent the day readying delivery rooms for future use and eating snacks.
But officials at both hospitals aren't deterred. They plan to celebrate their "New Year's" babies whenever they are born.
"It will get delivered," Straedey said.
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