Marcos Verastica, from left, daughters Luzmia, 3, and Kimberly, 5, and wife Maria Avila welcomed newborn daughter Susan Mercedes Verastica on Friday morning at Yampa Valley Medical Center in Steamboat Springs. Susan was the first baby of the new year born in Routt County.

Photo by John F. Russell

Marcos Verastica, from left, daughters Luzmia, 3, and Kimberly, 5, and wife Maria Avila welcomed newborn daughter Susan Mercedes Verastica on Friday morning at Yampa Valley Medical Center in Steamboat Springs. Susan was the first baby of the new year born in Routt County.

New year's 1st baby arrives

Verastica family welcomes Susan Mercedes on Friday morning

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— The Verastica family, of Hayden, welcomed Susan Mercedes Verastica, the first baby born at Yampa Valley Medical Center in the new year.

Susan, who arrived at 6:30 a.m. Friday weighing 6 pounds, 3 ounces, joins sisters Kimberly, 5, and Luzmia, 3.

"Girls, girls, girls," proud dad Marcos Verastica said Friday afternoon. "It's all good, though."

Mom Maria Avila's hospital room was crowded with family friends eager to see the new baby Friday afternoon. Susan, dressed in pink and sporting a full head of dark hair, took stock of her surroundings and the crowd with her wide-open eyes.

Avila said she felt her first contraction at about 9:30 p.m. on New Year's Day, but she did not think she was in labor yet because Susan was not due to arrive until Jan. 9. After it became clear her daughter definitely was on her way, the labor ended up being "quick and nice," she said.

The slightly early birth caught the family by surprise - Marcos Verastica's mother began heading to Steamboat from California as soon as she heard the news.

"She wanted to be here for the birth, but (Susan) decided to come early," Marcos Verastica said.

Had Susan arrived two days earlier, Yampa Valley Medical Center would have tied its all-time birth record of 431 babies in a year, set in 2007. Once the New Year's Eve babies were added to the hospital's tally, 430 babies were welcomed in Steamboat Springs in 2008.

Births have increased 66 percent in the past 10 years, according to a hospital press release. In 1998, 259 babies were delivered at the former Routt Memorial Hospital while construction was under way at the current Yampa Valley Medical Center campus.

The most popular name for baby girls in Routt County in 2008 was Emma, followed closely by Tatum, Abigail, Ava, Emily, Keely, Leah, Mia and Skylar.

The top name for baby boys resulted in a four-way tie among John, Owen, Caden and Jacob.

Spelling variations of the same names were tallied together in Yampa Valley Medical Center's statistics.

Many of the top name choices among Routt County parents echo national naming trends, according to the most recent statistics from the Social Security Administration.

In 2007, Jacob was the most popular name for boys in the United States, followed by Michael, Ethan, Joshua, Daniel, Christopher, Anthony, William, Matthew and Andrew.

Emily was the most popular girl's name across the country, followed by Isabella, Emma, Ava, Madison, Sophia, Olivia, Abigail, Hannah and Elizabeth.

- To reach Melinda Dudley, call 871-4203

or e-mail mdudley@steamboatpilot.com

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