First births ring in New Year at Athens’ two hospitals

New Year’s babies are often recognized around the nation, especially the first child born on Jan. 1 in a city.

 

This year in Athens, Dean Ezra Shepherd came into the world at 5:02 a.m. Monday at Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center.

Then later at St. Mary’s Hospital, August McLemore St. John, who will go by “Mac,” was born at 7:42 a.m.

Neither set of parents were anticipating New Year’s deliveries.

Dean’s parents, Jeremiah and Holly Shepherd, weren’t expecting their child to arrive until later in 2018, but Holly Shepherd ended up in labor the evening of Dec. 31.

“He was a week early,” she said Tuesday.

And at St. Mary’s, Mac had a due date of Dec. 26, but arrived late as a “miracle child” for Caroline and Robert St. John of Madison.

Caroline St. John is a leukemia survivor and due to her cancer treatments, was told not to expect children.

“This baby is an absolute miracle from God because this shouldn’t happen to someone with my medical history,” she said. “We’re thankful for everything about him.”

Both sets of parents selected names with ties to others.

“Dean is a family name on (her husband’s) side. His grandpa and his uncle are both named Dean, but (Ezra) was a name out of the ethereal,” Holly Shepherd said.

Holly Shepherd, a native of Woodbine in Camden County, and Jeremiah Shepherd, a native of McIntyre in Wilkinson County, live in Watkinsville, but have lived in the Athens area for the past five years.

Dean has an older sister, who is 4.

“She thinks it’s neat,” the proud mother said.

Caroline St. John said she and her husband, both school teachers who grew up in Conyers, chose the middle name McLemore as a tribute to her oncologist, Dr. Morgan McLemore of Atlanta.

Little Mac’s grandfather, Wayne Ingle, played football on former University of Georgia head coach Vince Dooley’s first team in 1964.

“Robert said he’s glad his son was brought into the world while the Dawgs are on top. Mac’s first football game was a pretty big one,” his mother said.

After the baby was born, a text arrived from Coach Dooley congratulating the couple.

“It all worked out well,” she said.

 

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