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Beacon hospitals deliver first babies in St. Joseph, Elkhart counties for second consecutive year

It’s not unusual for the Memorial Hospital childbirth team to deliver five babies in a few hours on an average day.

But on New Year’s Day? That’s something very special.

“It happens more than you would think, but not on New Year’s. It feels like a long adrenaline rush to have so many deliveries so fast,” said Mackenzi Hesselbart, Memorial childbirth charge nurse. “But we have a fun time telling the moms which delivery number they are and finding out what hospital had the first baby.”

While the Memorial team delivered the first baby in St. Joseph County for the second straight year, the Elkhart General childbirth team took top honors in the region, also for a second straight year.

Elkhart General welcomed the first baby of the new year in both Elkhart County and Michiana.

Here’s a snapshot of the busy early hours at these two Beacon hospitals, plus some bonus good news coming from Three Rivers Health Hospital later in the day.


Amora Bates, first baby of 2023 at Memorial Hospital.

Memorial delivered the first baby in St. Joseph County at 1:09 a.m. today.

Then the team welcomed its second baby of the new year at 1:31. And another baby at 1:33. Then another at 2:10 and yet another baby at 3:38. Three boys and two girls before 4 a.m.

“During times like this, you’re jumping delivery to delivery and it’s pretty crazy,” said Memorial RN and Childbirth Unit charge nurse Danielle Andress. “But it’s exciting to welcome the first babies of the year, and even more fun when we call around to the other hospitals to confirm who had the first.”

Marquis Bates and daughter Amora.

Tyrelle Brown and Marquis Bates of South Bend thought they would be welcoming daughter Amora Bates into their lives on Saturday. But when the clock struck midnight, they said they switched gears and started hoping theirs might be the first baby born in 2023.

“We were both pretty happy when we found out she was the first in our county,” Marquis Bates said. “It’s amazing, bringing life into the world. But now we have this lifelong story to tell for sure.”

Their 8-pound-9-ounce baby girl who measures 21 inches donned a personalized onesie made by her aunt and booties and a blanket crocheted by her great-grandmother. “She has his eyebrows and feet, and she got my nose,” Tyrelle Brown said. “She’s so precious, I could stare at her all day.”


First Beacon baby of 2023: Sean Daniel Miller of Elkhart.

Eighteen. That’s how many minutes separated the first New Year’s deliveries at Elkhart General and Memorial this morning.

Kaylee Coombs and her fiancé Andrew Miller were pleasantly surprised on New Year’s Eve when nurses told them their baby might be the first delivery at Beacon, and maybe even first in the Michiana area.

“It’s kind of crazy,” Coombs said. “We did not expect that at all.”

New mom Kaylee Coombs holds baby Sean.

Sean Daniel Miller made his grand entrance into the world at 12:51 a.m., fulfilling that very prophecy.

The Elkhart couple both liked the name Sean, and they decided to honor Andrew’s father, Daniel, who passed away several years ago.

The first baby of the year always proves memorable for the team, said Amber O’Brien, Elkhart General labor and delivery charge nurse.

“New Year’s Day is symbolic of fresh new beginnings,” O’Brien said. “A new baby arriving shortly after midnight is an inspiring way to kick off the new year.”

First-time parents Coombs and Miller look forward to kicking off their new year with their 8-pound-2-ounce, 19 ½ inch bundle of joy. “Becoming a parent is certainly going to be a very big change,” Coombs said, “but a very welcome one.”


Baby Piper and her family.

Three Rivers Health Hospital joined the 2023 Beacon baby bonanza much later in the day.

Zachary Snyder and Shelby Weinberg welcomed Piper Jane Snyder into the world at 12:05 p.m., making her Three Rivers Health Hospital’s first New Year’s baby. The 7-pound, 3.8 ounce, 19¾”-long baby girl is the Sturgis, Michigan, couple’s first child together. Piper already has two big sisters and a big brother to look out for her.

The traditional Three Rivers Health Hospital gift basket presented to the family of the first New Year’s baby.

As part of a New Year’s tradition, hospital staff greeted baby Piper and her family with a Radio Flyer wagon filled with baby gifts for the family. Each year, nurses collect items from other Beacon associates, local businesses and community members to make the occasion uniquely memorable.

“It’s really fun to celebrate the New Year’s baby here because we try to make it extra special,” said Aimee Jepkema, RN. “I have always enjoyed working on New Year’s Day. What a blessing it is to start your New Year being able to welcome a baby into the world. I am so incredibly happy for Shelby and Zach. Our staff is overjoyed to be able to bless their family with this gift basket to join them in the celebration of sweet baby Piper.”

— R.J. Pales contributed to this story.


About Heidi Prescott

Passionate about writing her whole life, Heidi Prescott joined Beacon Health System in 2015 and currently serves as Director of Communications. A former newspaper journalist who has experience in TV, radio, magazines and social media, Heidi loves storytelling, photography and spending time in nature.