The first words newborn Don Browne Jr. heard weren’t “Happy Birthday.”
Instead, the baby born less than a minute into 2015 at Madigan Army Medical Center was welcomed into the world with cheers of “Happy New Year!” from medical staff at the hospital located on Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
Angela and Don Browne of Lacey are the proud military parents of the little guy, who weighed in at 7 pounds, 8 ounces.
Angela noted that Don Jr. was born just after midnight.
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“It was 12 and some seconds, but they rounded up,” she said.
His official birth time is recorded as 12:01 a.m. Jan. 1, 2015.
Dad, who is from New York, is a first sergeant with a newly formed unit of Stryker Brigade engineers. He has worn an Army uniform for 17 years, served three combat tours in Iraq and deployed on a humanitarian mission in Kosovo.
Angela, from Mississippi, just completed four years of active duty two weeks ago. She worked in Army intelligence and served in Afghanistan in 2012 and 2013.
Now she’ll focus on being a full-time mom to her newborn son, and to the family’s two older boys, 14-year-old Gabriel and 7-year-old Xavier.
Don is glad Angela will be able to devote more time to the family.
“My hours are different every day,” he said. “I’ll say I’m going to be home at (5 p.m.), and here it will be (8 p.m.), and I’m still there,” he said. “That’s the life of a first sergeant.”
Both parents were happy that Don Jr. was showing no signs of fussiness for much of his first day of life. He spent New Year’s Day afternoon — like many of the rest of us — napping and eating.
“Hopefully he’ll stay that way,” Angela said.
The baby arrived nine days early.
“We weren’t even thinking about New Years,” she said. But once the moment was near, the couple got excited about the idea that their son might be the first New Year’s baby born at Madigan.
“We’re both very competitive,” she added with a smile.
The competition is usually stiff. Hospital officials said Madigan averages about seven births each day. In 2014, more than 2,200 babies were born there.
Not only does Don Jr. earn first baby honors for Madigan and all of Pierce County, he also was rewarded with two baskets of gift items — one from the Madigan staff and another from Babies R Us.
“It’s exciting,” Angela said of her baby’s momentous arrival. “It’s something to put in his scrapbook.”