Nothing says new beginnings like a new baby.

And when a new baby arrives on New Year’s Day, that only doubles the celebration.

Here are tales of five babies who made their debut at the dawn of 2016 in Spectrum Health Family Birthplace at Butterworth Hospital.


Hazel Lynn Vandekerhoff missed her Christmas Eve due date, but she did a fine job with her arrival on New Year’s Day. Born 14 minutes after midnight, she was the first baby of 2016.

Hazel looked around with wide eyes as her mother, Vanessa Gildo, cuddled her Friday morning.

“It was pretty easy. I was surprised,” Vanessa said of her 12-hour labor and delivery. “Everything went great.”

Hazel weighs 7 pounds, 14 ounces, measures 21 inches long, and has eyes as hazel as her name. Her most striking feature—the one that all visitors and nurses marvel over—is her luxurious, thick, dark hair.

Vanessa said she looks forward to walks with Hazel and taking her to the park.

Her wish for Hazel: “Just to have it easy—to have everything she wants.”


Gunner Eye’s arrival three weeks before his due date “was definitely a surprise,” said his mother, Brittany Fender.

She was in labor about six hours at the hospital before an emergency cesarean section was performed. At 12:44 a.m., Gunner was born—5 pounds, 13 ounces, and 18.5 inches long.

Because of fluid in his lungs, he was put on a ventilator for a while in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, said his dad, Jesse Eye.

When the couple visited their son in the NICU, two nurses helped move him, with the tubes and wires, into his mother’s arms.

Brittany cradled Gunner and watched as he opened one eye, then another.

“He’s playing peek-a-boo,” she said.

Then both eyes opened and she smiled.

“Hi, bud!”

Jesse said he had planned to go hunting New Year’s Day, but he didn’t mind changing plans to welcome his second son. The couple’s other son, Jaxson, is almost 3. Jesse looks forward to teaching both boys to hunt and fish.

Name to be decided

Elizabeth and Brad Adrion knew they were having a baby boy, but they were in no hurry to pick out a name before his birth.

“We just wanted to see his little face first,” Elizabeth said.

Their son was due Dec. 31 and missed his due date by just 2 hours and 40 minutes. He weighed in at 8 pounds, 9 ounces, and was 21.5 inches long.

Elizabeth cradled her little boy while Brad stroked his head.

“He’s cool,” Brad said.

“It’s weird—you create this little boy from scratch,” Elizabeth marveled. “This is the same little guy who was inside me just a few hours ago.”

Another name to be decided

Several rock ‘n’ roll names are on the short list for the little boy born to Allison Burr and Shane Ruster.

Axel, Luxe and Jagger are all possibilities.

Their baby, born at 5:07 a.m., weighed 6 pounds, 14 ounces, and was 19 inches long.

His arrival nine days before his due date was a pleasant surprise for Allison—he shares a birthdate with her grandfather.

Already in his first few hours of life, the little boy’s calm personality impressed his mom. She said he takes after his dad.

“He’s a very good baby,” she said. “He’s totally chill.”

Mary Claire

Courtney and Tony Lane—2007 Michigan State University graduates and loyal Spartans—planned on a quiet New Year’s Eve at home.

They had just started to watch MSU play Alabama in the Cotton Bowl when their plan hit a detour. Courtney’s water broke and labor started.

A few hours later, their daughter Mary Claire was born. She arrived at 2:18 a.m., weighing 6 pounds, 9 ounces, and measuring 19¼ inches.

When all was calm, Tony checked the final score of the game and discovered it was a 38-0 blowout for the Spartans.

“That was not a bad game to have interrupted,” he decided.

It confirmed their belief that Mary Claire—like her 2-year-old sister, Maggie—is a future Spartan.

“I’m sure she is,” Courtney said.

“We are certainly going to steer her in that direction,” Tony said.

Learn more about labor and delivery and the Spectrum Health Family Birthplace at Butterworth Hospital.