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'A new tradition': Parents celebrate birth of first baby this decade at St. Mary's Hospital

'A new tradition': Parents celebrate birth of first baby this decade at St. Mary's Hospital


Norah Adelaine Elsmo was sleeping soundly just after 11 a.m. on New Year’s Day, making no fuss at all.

Maybe it’s an early sign that she’ll be as laid-back as her parents. Despite running on no sleep, Andrea and Dave Elsmo of Monona were in high spirits and cracking jokes, though Andrea conceded the afterglow “might be wearing off a little bit.”

“I’ve had my caffeine, so I’m artificial at this point,” said Dave, 34.

Born at 4:17 a.m., Norah was one of the first babies born in Madison in 2020, and the first at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital. She came into the world at 8 pounds and 20 inches.

Andrea, 31, has lived in Madison her whole life and was born in the same hospital.

The first birth of the new year in Madison was Jace Eli at 1:28 a.m. at UnityPoint Health Meriter Hospital. Born to parents Ashley and Cameron Eli of Fall River, he was measured 19 inches and weighed six pounds and nine ounces.

Having one of the first babies of the decade doesn’t hold much significance for the Elsmos beyond starting their new family, they said. But the nice, round number will make it easy to remember Norah’s birthday and how old she is.

“I couldn’t be happier about the numbers on this baby: 1/1, 2020,” said Dave, adding he had struggled to remember his own age.

And, of course, they will have double cause for celebration on New Year’s Day.

“It will be a nice new tradition,” Andrea said, before seemingly looking ahead to Norah’s teenage years. “It’s a dangerous birthday, though.”

Norah is the couple’s first child. They’ve successfully cared for a rescue dog together, which they half-jokingly said was a sign that they were ready for parenthood.

“We both had a lot of things going on professionally, but things started ironing themselves out,” Dave said. “The timing all just felt super natural. I mean, not supernatural. … It just felt like we were walking the right line.”

The Elsmos got to the hospital around 7 p.m. on Tuesday — the day Andrea was due — with plenty of time to spare. It was “quite the opposite” of a rush-to-the-hospital scenario, Dave said: “We were like, ‘What do we do now?’”

The couple played a game of cribbage to pass the time in their hospital room on Tuesday evening. Andrea won.

In the wake of a sleepless night, the Elsmos were looking forward to going home and watching the Rose Bowl. All in all, they were feeling good about becoming new parents, and some measure of relief to be heading home.

“The dog’s still alive,” Dave said.

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Howard Hardee is a general assignment reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal. He has written extensively about government, natural disasters and forest health in northern California.

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