What it's like to be the 1st baby born in the new year: 'I hated it as a kid'

Being the 1st baby born in the new year is a big deal. Here's what happens next. (Image: Getty and Maayan Pearl)
Being the 1st baby born in the new year is a big deal. Here's what happens next. (Image: Getty and Maayan Pearl) (Getty and Maayan Pearl)

Arin Fugate’s mother planned to give birth at home on Thanksgiving, but things went a little bit awry.

First, a brake went out on a garbage truck at the top of a hill, and the vehicle came crashing through the family’s Idaho living room.

“And so my mom felt like she just kind of went into protection mode,” says Fugate, a wellness educator. “The house was a mess and they had to do this big repair, and she was just like ‘I waited to give birth until that was all calmed down.'”

By New Year’s Eve, Arin still hadn’t been delivered. While she was supposed to be a home delivery, after 36 hours of labor, the midwife informed Fugate’s mom that they needed to head to the hospital. It was at that McCall, Idaho hospital on New Year’s Day of 1977 that Fugate earned the honor of being the first baby born in the facility that year.

Baby New Year is the personification of the start of a new calendar. Often, he’s depicted wearing nothing but a diaper, top hat and sash, representing the beginning of something fresh, new and wonderful. In reality, some New Year’s babies win prizes and scholarships for their special arrival date — or are at least sometimes sent home with a hefty stash of diapers. Some have their faces splashed on the front page of newspapers, but that trend has dropped in popularity to minimize the risk of kidnappings, according to some hospitals. But as New Year’s Day babies graduate into adulthood, their opinions of their birthday can be complicated.

“In astrology and numerology, people are always like, ‘oh my God, that’s such an auspicious birthday!'” says Fugate. “There’s a lot of positive attention, like ‘oh you were born on the 1st!’ It can be really good for setting your goals and intentions for the year. I kind of have a really intense time with that. But it’s good, because it’s the reset of the new year, and the reset of my year, so it can be very poignant for soul searching.”

Despite the opportunity for setting intentions for the year to come, the majority of people who spoke to Yahoo Life about being born on New Year’s Day said they disliked their birthdays as children because it was lumped into Christmas.

“I feel like everyone that has a birthday on a holiday has the same feeling. Your birthday just kind of gets mixed in a little bit,” says Connor Woods, a sophomore at Keene State College, who earned a spot on the front page of the local newspaper as the first baby born at Milford Regional Hospital in Milford, Mass., at 7:39 a.m. in 1993.

“I HATED it as a kid,” says Garrett Peterson, who celebrated his 40th birthday this New Year’s Day. “I was always overshadowed by Christmas. Lots of combo gifts and everyone is burnt out on Christmas so it never felt special.”

"As a child, I didn't like it, because I remember getting one present for Christmas and birthday," says Jack O'Donnell, who was born in Boston in 1958.

Of course, worse than being the first baby of New Year’s Day is being the second.

“There was a baby that beat me by about 30 minutes,” says Nick O’Malley, whose mother went into labor with him while attending a New Year’s Eve party with her husband. “I have been told that the baby got some sort of gift basket for being the first in the hospital.”

Peterson, who arrived at 3 a.m. at Saratoga Hospital in Saratoga, N.Y., was edged out for the title of the hospital's first baby of the year by one-half of a set of twins whose delivery continued past midnight.

“The twins stole my thunder,” jokes Peterson, who is now vice president of Downtown Decorations, Inc. in Harwich Port, Mass. When one of his clients recently mentioned they were due to give birth on Jan. 1 of this year, they asked Peterson to “impart any wisdom.”

His input? “My advice was not to combine Christmas and birthdays."

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