BRADENTON -- Amelia Marlae Fergerson was born at 12:15 a.m. Wednesday, becoming the first baby born in the region for the New Year.
Amelia weighs 6 pounds, 8 ounces and measured 20 inches long. She had some competition for the first baby title within Manatee Memorial Hospital: Another mother was already in labor before Amelia's mom arrived at the hospital, plus a third baby was delivered, all within the first hour of the New Year.
"I didn't even know I was even going to have her until I came here," mother Brianna Fergerson, 19, said. "I thought they were going to send me home."
After 35 minutes in labor, baby Amelia came quick.
"The pain made it feel like it was an hour and a half," Fergerson said, but it's all worth it. After all, she doesn't have to have the baby kick at her ribs from the womb anymore, she said.
Fergerson doesn't get caught up in the excitement of her child being the area's first baby, perhaps partly due to an exhausting day and recovering from labor, but her family by her side was overjoyed and eager to kick in their aunt and grandmotherly duties.
"I'm excited, I'm going to be happy," new aunt Alexis Jones said.
"I just want to go home," Fergerson groaned, prompting laughs from her family.
Babies are kept at the hospital for at least 24 hours after the first feed for a battery of tests to check for 36 metabolic disorders, said Ka
tie Powers, a registered nurse and coordinator for Mothers of Manatee Memorial Place. Mothers who deliver vaginally stay for about 36 hours in the hospital, while cesarean delivery mothers stay for at least two and a half days, Powers said.
Checking with hospitals in Sarasota, Lakewood Ranch, Tampa and St. Petersburg, it appears that Amelia could be the first baby born in Tampa Bay. Powers said she has heard that it is possible that Manatee Memorial had the first baby in Tampa Bay as well.
The mother and baby received a special gift basket from Manatee Memorial including lotion, a baby tub and soap.
"We just want her to grow up healthy, happy and loved," said Mona Seamans, who is now a great-grandmother after having five kids and 16 grandchildren.
Powers has participated in first babies for at least 25 years. The first baby creates just as much excitement among hospital staffs.
"You always hope to have the first baby of the New Year. It is a competition amongst the hospitals, even though we have no control over it whatsoever," Powers said, laughing. The hospitals in the area call each other to check to see when the first baby is, but it's not an expanded network of calls to check to see who had the first baby in Florida, she added.
The first baby provides symbolism for a fresh start to kick of the New Year and "hope for the future," Powers said.
While the first birth is a good notoriety, it shouldn't take away from all the other births.
"Every delivery is special. Every delivery you hold your breath to hear that first cry," she said. "Maybe there's a little 'woo-hoo,' but the emotions and the professional feeling inside is always the same."
Amelia can thank 2002 Disney movie "Treasure Planet" for her name.
"We watched a lot of Disney movies together and it was one of our favorite cats," new aunt Alexis Jones said of Capt. Amelia, the "pretty kitty" in "Treasure Planet."
It's also the name of Fergerson's dad's great-great grandmother, who passed away in October 2012, said Christina Mays, who is Amelia's grandmother.
Now, Fergerson is looking for a job post-pregnancy and will always keep her daughter close in her arms.
"I don't want her to get any bigger," she said.
Charles Schelle, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @ImYourChuck.