By MAGGIE MENDERSKI
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
HANNIBAL Mo. -- Hannibal Regional Hospital had two New Year's Day birthdays in the maternity ward Tuesday.
One was the hospital's first baby of the year, who weighed in at 8 pounds, 7 ounces, and was 21 inches long.
The other was the newborn's mother.
Courtney Wooldridge of Louisiana, Mo., welcomed her daughter, Gabriela Nicole Santiago, into the world at 9:33 a.m. on her 24th birthday. The mother and daughter now share a birthday along with all the privileges that come with being Hannibal Regional Hospital's New Year's baby.
"It's a good thing," Wooldridge said. "It's a good present. She's my birthday present."
Wendy Harrington, CEO and president of Hannibal Regional Hospital Foundation, relies on an array of donors to make the gift package for the hospital's first-born baby of the year a special occasion. This year, Gabriela was the only baby born at the hospital on New Year's Day. Harrington said the gifts are designed to treat the whole family, including Gabriela's father, Valerio Santiago Fabian, and her 5-year-old brother, Garrett.
"We understand that it's a very exciting time for the families," Harrington said. "There's a full experience for the whole family, and everyone gets pampered."
The gift package includes a photography session, a gift certificate for a family dinner, groceries, medical supplies and several other services. A large vase holding a dozen red roses rested just near Wooldridge's bedside, and a large gift basket of baby supplies sat within her reach. The child also has received a $2,000 scholarship from Hannibal-LaGrange University.
"We're blessed that they've given so much to us," Wooldridge said.
Now, Wooldridge is eager to take her daughter home from the hospital. Gabriela arrived a week after her Christmas Day due date. While Wooldridge knew her daughter might arrive on her birthday, she expected her to come on New Year's Eve.
"It's just going to be good just having her home," Wooldridge said.