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The last and the first: babies brighten new year

H&R Block of Worthington awarded a basket of goodies to the last baby born in 2009 at Sanford Regional Hospital Worthington. Maria Reyes, left, and Samantha Bartlett, right, are shown with new parents Wendy and Zach Marco and little Aleah Colleen, born Dec. 31 at 6:32 p.m.(Justine Wettschreck/Daily Globe)

WORTHINGTON -- In the last month of 2009, 45 babies were delivered at Sanford Regional Hospital Worthington, with a total of 392 for the year. The last baby to be born in 2009 was Aleah Colleen Marco, daughter of Zach and Wendy Marco.

The first baby of the year tends to garner a lot of attention, but H&R Block knows it the last baby who yields the tax savings.

According to Steve Stilman, Regional Director of H&R Block, babies born on Dec. 31 before midnight provide parents with a $3,650 tax exemption for all of 2009.

To acknowledge the last baby born, Carolee Anderson, franchise owner of the Worthington H&R Block, prepared a gift basket for the last baby born in Worthington in 2009, and tax preparers Maria Reyes and Samantha Bartlett presented the basket to the Marcos Friday morning.

"I didn't even know they did this," Zach commented as he and Wendy eyed the goodies in the basket.

"It's our first year," Bartlett stated, drawn like a magnet to little Aleah.

The basket contained about $100 in baby toys, diapers and blankets, plus an H&R Block T-shirt for Mom and Dad.

The Marco family is from Ocheyedan, Iowa, and Aleah will be greeted at home by big sister Madison, who is 5, and big brother Tyler, who is 2 ½.

"Her big sister is ecstatic," Wendy said Friday. "Her big brother is wondering why she gets his seat."

"It will take a bit of getting used to for him," Zach added.

Aleah weighed in at 7 pounds even and was 20 inches long. She was born at 6:32 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 31. Up until the moment she entered the world, the family didn't know if their newest family member would be a boy or a girl.

"We wanted it to be a surprise," Wendy said.

Throughout her pregnancy, Wendy said her family decided they would be happy with whatever God gave them.

"But right before we left to go to the hospital, Madison said, 'I just really need a baby sister, Mom,'" Wendy laughed.

It looks like Madison got her wish.

"She liked that a lot," Zach said with a smile, adding that he will have to get used to having a tiny baby in the house again.

The way he handled the tiny pink bundle with ease indicated it won't be much of a task for him to adapt.

Wendy said she has a lot of baby clothes to sort through when she gets home. Because they weren't sure if their new bundle of joy would prefer pink or blue, she said she took out a selection of gender-neutral baby clothes, but will now be able to pull out the clothes that are girly.

Wendy is a nurse supervisor at Sanford Regional Hospital Worthington, while Zach works for Mega Incorporated, which handles farm drainage and excavating.