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Welcome to our world: Giselle Mejia first baby of 2017 at Sanford Worthington

WORTHINGTON -- It didn't take long for Giselle Mejia to determine she wanted in on the action of 2017. "Her due date was Jan. 3, but this baby decided she wanted to show up a little early," said Giselle's father, Julio Mejia of Worthington. Mejia...

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WORTHINGTON - It didn’t take long for Giselle Mejia to determine she wanted in on the action of 2017.

“Her due date was Jan. 3, but this baby decided she wanted to show up a little early,” said Giselle’s father, Julio Mejia of Worthington.

Mejia drove his wife, Veronica Albarenga, to Sanford Worthington Medical Center around 5 a.m. on New Year’s Day, and by 10:31 a.m. Giselle made her grand appearance.

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Weighing in at six pounds and three ounces, the 19-inch long baby looked dainty and tiny as she nestled in her mother’s arm several hours later.

“We’re happy to know she’s the first baby born here this year,” smiled Albarenga warmly.

“You can’t plan for that; it just happened,” remarked Mejia.

Although Giselle isn’t the family’s first child - they have five older children ranging in age from 13 to 20 - she happens to be only their second daughter.

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“We have Josselin, who is 17,” said Mejia, adding that Josselin is a Worthington High School student who aspires to a career in cosmetology.

“She’s happy to have a little sister, but she said she’ll still be the princess in the family,” joked Mejia.

Because it’s been a number of years since the couple has had an infant, they were especially grateful for the generous basket of donated baby items provided for the “first baby” from area businesses.

“It will be very useful,” assured Albarenga.

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Although staff at the Sanford Worthington Medical Center reported at least 450 babies were born on their watch in 2016 (the last arriving on New Year’s Eve), Giselle had no competition on New Year’s morning.

“The nurse said we were the only ones here,” said Albarenga, who was assisted during her labor by experienced nurse Mary Huls; Dr. Connie Morrison delivered Giselle.

Albarenga and Mejia, both natives of El Salvador, have resided in the United States since 2001and lived in Worthington since 2009. Mejia is an auto mechanic at the Meca-Max garage on Oxford Street, while Albarenga works at a meat processing plant in northern Iowa. She plans to take some time off in the coming weeks to care for Giselle.

“We really like it here, and our children like Worthington, too,” commented Mejia.

Mejia isn’t discouraged by the Minnesota winters, either.

“We know that when it’s bad for a few days, it won’t be long before it gets better,” he said optimistically.

Albarenga said Giselle’s labor and delivery was “about the same” as most of her previous children’s arrivals, but she and Mejia deeply value their daughter’s health and birth all the more because of an earlier trial.

They experienced a difficult loss when, about eight years ago, Albarenga delivered a full-term boy who was stillborn due to the umbilical cord being wrapped around his neck.

While they still mourn their lost son, Giselle’s birth may serve to somewhat soften that blow, and Albarenga believes their New Year’s Day baby will be their last child.

“Right now, I say this is it,” she smiled.

Added Mejia, “We always wanted another girl, so I think we’ll stop with her.”

Mejia, himself the youngest of 16 children, has been the family’s naming expert; Albarenga said he’s selected the names of all their kids. When the family learned four months ago that Albarenga was expecting a girl, Mejia suggested “Giselle” to Josselin and Albarenga, who both agreed that was a perfect choice.

Albarenga enjoys cooking and said she’d made papusas on New Year’s Eve. Mejia, who spends most of his time working, watches a little TV to relax when he has an hour to spare. Soccer is also a sport about which the entire family is passionate.

Adding to the general excitement surrounding Giselle’s birth, Mejia’s intrepid 94-year-old father arrived in Worthington over the weekend for a short visit and a chance to meet his newest grandchild.

Gazing at his infant daughter, Mejia said, “I want for her the same thing every other father wants: to see her grow up healthy, get good grades at school and succeed in life.”

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