BY ANNE STANTON
TRAVERSE CITY — Watching the CherryT Ball Drop at midnight was the last thing on the minds of Emily and Kevin Cornell, the proud and exhausted parents of the area's first New Year's Day baby.
The couple arrived at Munson Medical Center at 6 p.m. on New Year's Eve, one day before their baby's due date. By the time midnight struck, the television was off and champagne a distant memory.
"We just wanted the baby out," said Emily, 32, a private duty nurse.
The couple lives only a few minutes away from the hospital. Emily said that's a good thing because her contractions quickly went from five minutes apart to two minutes apart.
Baby Jackson arrived at 1:30 a.m., weighing in at 7 pounds, six ounces and 19¾ inches long.
Emily said that she and Kevin joked about whether their new addition was going to beat the clock and qualify them for a $1,000 child tax credit.
"It wasn't anything we really cared about," Emily said. "We just wanted a healthy baby. Whenever he came was fine."
"When he gets older, he'll be too hung over from New Year's Eve to have a happy birthday," joked Kevin.
Emily said she she'll skip toasting to the New Year because she's nursing Jackson and can't drink alcohol.
"But we have a very nice vintage sparkling cider at home," Emily said.
Emily and Kevin spent their first day of the year in Munson's spacious birthing room that feels like home. With Jackson in their arms, they welcomed a steady stream of visitors, including overjoyed grandparents.
This is the first grandchild on both sides, Emily explained.
Kevin's family lives locally, while her family is from Kalkaska County.
"We've had a caravan from M-72 all day long," she said.
Emily, 32, said she's looking forward to staying at home with Jackson for nine weeks. Kevin, 38, will return to his job at AlcoTec, which makes aluminum welding wire.
Jackson was one of three babies born by midafternoon New Year's Day, said Mary Round, a registered nurse.
"It was really busy," she said.
In fact, it's been a busy year, she added.
"We had 1,882 babies for 2012, and it seems like they were all born in the past couple weeks."
She guessed there might be an upswing in births, given the freak winter storm of March 2 when the lights were out with not much to do but stay warm.
"We've been looking for that to happen," she said, laughing.