Dee and Michael Steinle stayed optimistic and calm in the hours after their daughter, Nora, was born shortly after midnight Jan. 1, 2007.
But it wasn't easy.
Dee Steinle sat in her bed at Lawrence Memorial Hospital recovering from an emergency cesarean section. Nora, meanwhile, had been flown to Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., because she was briefly deprived of oxygen in delivery.
Michael made trips back and forth from Lawrence to Kansas City, while mother and daughter were separated.
"That's still pretty hard for me. I have a hard time reflecting on it without becoming kind of emotional honestly," Dee said. "It was probably the hardest thing I've ever had to go through, without a doubt."
As Nora's first birthday approaches, she has started to walk. She also enjoys playing with her brother, Aaron, who turns 5 on Thursday. The Steinles are planning a joint party to celebrate their birthdays and their health.
Nora was given a clean bill of health during a six-month checkup at Children's Mercy.
"Just to know that everything was going well and that she's just as perfect as we believed she was, to have that as evidence, it was important," Dee said.
Interesting 'Baby New Year'
After eight hours in labor on Dec. 31, 2006, doctors performed an emergency surgery to deliver Nora.
The baby needed help breathing, and doctors also were concerned that she might have suffered neurological damage. After an emergency flight to Children's Mercy, Nora spent time in the intensive care unit and her condition stabilized quickly.
"As it turned out, she was perfectly fine, but it's better to be safe than sorry," Michael said.
Doctors kept her there for several days to run tests, so Dee wasn't able to see her daughter for a few days until she was released from LMH.
"I really did feel like the minute she heard my voice she knew that I was Mom," Dee said. "It was real evident that we were deeply connected."
Their meeting also reassured Dee that Nora's health had improved.
"When I saw her the first time, I knew in my heart that everything was OK," Dee said.
Because Nora was Lawrence's first baby of 2007, her arrival came with gifts and media attention. The family took it in stride and acknowledged the community support helped during a difficult time.
On Jan. 9, Nora went home where her big brother was eagerly waiting to meet her.
Passing on the crown
These days, Nora is like any typical toddler. She laughs and plays with her energetic brother and grabs any toy she can find. She's also started to talk.
The Steinles enjoy visiting Prairie Park Nature Center in southeast Lawrence and the Kansas University Natural History Museum.
As 2007 comes to a close, Nora will pass on her New Year's baby mantle - she has a commemorative pink one - to LMH's first baby of 2008.
Nora's father also has a little advice to pass along to the parents.
"You're going to be tired. They're going to keep you up late," he said. "Sometimes it's easy just to not enjoy those moments. So, I'd say just take advantage of every chance you can to spend time with the baby because once it's gone - it's gone."