It’s a new year, baby

ESCANABA – OSF St. Francis Hospital’s first baby of the new year, Zophia Virginia Wallace, was born Jan. 3 at 6:38 p.m. to parents Sarah Ulatowski and James Wallace of Escanaba. Zophia weighed 6 pounds, 2.3 ounces and was 19 inches long.

“We were talking and I said, ‘wouldn’t it be funny if she was born today because it would be 1-3-13,'” said Ulatowski.

Ulatowski is of Polish ancestry and wanted to give her daughter a name that reflected her heritage. “I just liked it. I mixed the Polish form of ‘Sophia’ and the English form of ‘Sophia,'” said Ulatowski, who added the Polish form of the name is spelled “Zofia.”

Zophia is Ulatowski’s first child and Wallace’s third. She is the granddaughter of Marie Silich and the late Jonathan Ulatowski and Alice Coke and the elder James Wallace.

“Daddy is just one of the proudest fathers you could ever have. We’re going to be fighting over who holds her more,” joked Ulatowski, adding, “I couldn’t have gotten a better guy for this. He’s just something special.”

Ulatowski was originally due on Dec. 29. She went into labor and entered the hospital Thursday morning, but doctors opted for a cesarean delivery Thursday evening.

As the first baby of the new year, Zophia received a gift basket from the hospital including a bunting, sleepers, socks, burp cloths, bibs, t-shirts, washcloths, bathing towels, books, a health care kit, diapers, utensils and a bank. Also donated were a $100 gift certificate from the Knights of Columbus and a custom portrait session and 16 by 20 inch wall print from Jennifer LaChance Photography.

Zophia’s birth comes at a time when many are concerned over a drop in American birthrates.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the provisional count of births in the United States for the 2011 to 2012 period – which measures birth and fertility rates for the 12-month period ending in June – was 1 percent lower than the number of births in the previous period.

The 1 percent drop represents close to 39,000 fewer births for women between the ages of 15 and 44. American birth rates have steadily declined since 2007 when the number of births reached a historic high of 4,316,233. However, the rate of decline slowed between 2010 and June of 2012.

Preliminary data for 2011 from the CDC’s National Vital Statistic Reports, which spans the entire 2011 calendar year, indicates the birth rate that year was the lowest rate ever reported in the United States. U.S. birth rates have been reported since 1920.

Despite the drop in birthrates, OSF has held steady with 263 babies being born in 2012 – one more than in 2011.

“Most hospitals are down, but we managed to stay consistent and even be one up,” said Mary Zimmerman, manager of the OB/Nursery Department at OSF.

No matter what the birth rate statistics are, Ulatowski and Wallace are thrilled to be with their baby girl.

“It’s the most amazing feeling you could ever have,” said the proud mother.