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Kaizen Muongkhot is first baby of year at Sanford Worthington Medical Center

Estee Cregeen holds her newborn son, Kaizen Tien Muongkhot, Tuesday night at Sanford Worthington Medical Center while her 6-year-old son, Raden, looks on.

WORTHINGTON -- What's an expectant mother to do at 2 a.m. when contractions begin but she's unsure if it's time to head to the hospital?

If you're Estee Cregeen of Jackson, you just might do some housecleaning.

"I wasn't sure if the contractions were real or false, so I got up and cleaned the house for a while until they stopped," shared the industrious Cregeen. "Around 5 a.m., they started again, fast and furious, and we left Jackson at about 5:30 a.m."

Good thing daddy Kham Muongkhot knew the way, because little Kaizen Tien Muongkhot made his grand New Year's Day entrance at 6:32 a.m. -- a mere 26 minutes after his parents walked through the emergency room doors of Sanford Worthington Medical Center.

The first baby born in 2013 at the local hospital, Kaizen weighed a healthy seven pounds, one ounce and showed up with a full head of dark hair.

"The nurse Amy (Hassebroek) actually delivered him because he came so fast," explained Cregeen. "Dr. (Zane) Craig got here just a few minutes later."

Hassebroek, an obstetrics nurse since 1977, said her New Year's Eve shift had been very quiet until Cregeen and Muongkhot made things more exciting.

"He's not the first baby I've had to deliver by a long shot," laughed Hassebroek. "It was a beautiful delivery -- another miracle happened -- and it's fun to be part of a special moment like that.

"I'm so happy everything went well and turned out great, because that's what you want," added Hassebroek, who welcomed her own first grandson (and third grandchild overall) on Dec. 26.

Cregeen, whose due date was Jan. 6, was scheduled for an induction on Jan. 3. With three older children in the family -- 15-year-old daughter Madison, 6-year-old son Raden and 4-year-old daughter Tieran -- Cregeen knew there was a possibility her fourth baby might arrive ahead of schedule.

"Tieran was three weeks early, Madi was two weeks early, and Raden was about a week and a half early," listed Cregeen.

"But we're not used to having to worry about the weather," said Muongkhot, noting all of the older kids were born in June or July.

Kaizen received a special gift basket from Sanford Worthington due to his first-baby-of-the-year status. Diapers, a piggy bank, a few blankets, an outfit, slippers and pajamas were among the items included.

"Some really nice crocheted blankets, from people who had a past New Year's baby, were also given," said Cregeen. "That's great, because my grandma used to crochet, but she doesn't anymore."

Both Cregeen and Muongkhot are graduates of the JCC school system; Cregeen works with Head Start in Jackson, while Muongkhot is employed at Hitch Doc. They have extended family in the Jackson area, and it was Cregeen's mother Sandy who came to be with the other Muongkhot children when the expectant couple hit the road.

Cregeen said she chose her kids' unique names in various ways.

"When Madison was born, her name was still not that common," explained Cregeen. "I found 'Raden' in a baby book, 'Tieran' is a spin-off from something I saw on TV and 'Kaizen' actually was the name of an app on Kham's phone."

Cregeen knows she's been blessed with what she says were easy pregnancies and deliveries, but now she and Muongkhot are "done," she said.

"Two of each is good," she said. "Raden is excited to have a brother, and Kaizen already watched football with him a little today. Raden really likes the Gophers."

And when the Cregeen/Muongkhot family goes home to their clean house, Cregeen can check another item off her list.

"I kept a 'to-do' list on the wall -- dishes, vacuum -- and Madison wrote, 'Have the baby,'" said Cregeen.

"This makes for a pretty bright start to the year," she added.

A second baby, and the first girl of 2013, was born at Sanford Worthington Medical Center later on New Year's Day. Shalom Katie Wurtz, the daughter of Stanley and Dorothy Wurtz of Mountain Lake, arrived at 3:20 p.m. Jan. 1, weighing seven pounds, 15 ounces.

Shalom is the first child for the Wurtzes.