Anchorage parents claim Alaska’s first reported birth of 2023
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - It didn’t take long, but the Fritz family in Anchorage unofficially claimed the title of having the first arrival of the new year early Sunday morning at Alaska Regional Hospital.
Just 12 minutes past midnight, Madison Fritz gave birth to nine-pound, 14-ounce Samuel Eugene Fritz, the first child shared by Madison and her husband Todd.
“We didn’t know we were pregnant with him, he was such a calm baby,” she said. “In August, I realized that something was different. And I told my husband, ‘Honey, I think we’re gonna have a baby.’”
Madison said after she missed her period in August, she took a pregnancy test that came up positive.
In October, she visited her doctor believing she was 13 weeks pregnant.
Her doctor broke the news to her that she was actually over 31 weeks pregnant. Madison had an easy pregnancy, even right up until it was time to deliver.
“(The doctor) checked me and they said, ‘Oh, he’s just comfy up there.’ He was just bobbing up and down,” Madison said. “Like I just had this picture of him bobbing for apples in there, and he was warm and happy.
Fritz said their son had a due date of 10 days earlier, on Dec. 22, 2022, but fate had another plan.
“I was like, okay, buddy, it’s showtime.”
As the due date got closer — then passed by — with no sign of Samuel, the Fritzes began to wonder when he would show up.
By New Year’s Eve, Madison was having contractions.
“So I started to push, because I was delivering naturally,” she recounted. “And my cervix was just a little bit — just not quite there yet — and I went, ‘Oh, okay, maybe we’ll have a 2023 baby.’
“But at about the 30-minute mark, they said, ‘Hey, it’s go-time.’ So I said, okay, I’ve got 30 minutes to push this baby out.”
Madison said she was close to the moment of birth when she looked up at the clock and noticed it was officially 2023.
Fritz said her doctor checked with other hospitals in the area and determined theirs was the first newborn of the new year, something that had both Madison and Todd were happy to hear.
“The doc let me step in and catch,” Todd said. “So I got to catch my boy.”
Tipping the scales at nearly 10 pounds, Samuel measured in big as well — 22.5 inches long, according to Todd.
Madison said his size compares to relatives on Todd’s side of the family, adding that his nose has a distinct Fritz family feature.
“(Samuel) has an uncle that passed away ... and he has some very similar features to his Uncle Billy and his grandpa Bickford,” she said. “He has a little upturned nose.”
“We call it the Bickford nose,” Todd said.
Madison, a 2006 Chugiak High School graduate, now works at her alma mater as a special education parent educator. Todd works as a general contractor and is also the manager of the Exit Glacier Lodge in Seward, where the couple spends much of their time in the summers.
The Fritzes explained that they gave their son the middle name Eugene as a nod to Todd’s father, who died in August. Eugene also carries the meaning of “noble.”
When the couple realized in August that they were expecting, Madison said they were able to share their exciting news with Todd’s father, before his passing.
“He said, ‘Well, there’s going to be a whole lot of love for that baby’,” Madison said. “And I just remember smiling, and I remember just thinking about that during the birth process, that there’s going to be a whole lot of love for this baby, and we are feeling a whole lot of love.
“We sensed his dad there, quite strongly.”
Todd is also a cancer survivor and said that he has been through a staggering 33 sessions of chemotherapy treatment.
While he says he’s been cancer free since December 2013, it was a worry the couple shared about their ability to conceive.
“But it just turned out that Madison was not showing any signs of being pregnant,” Todd said. “So we had conceived much earlier than we had thought.”
Todd said his cancer treatments came in the same hospital where their newborn was delivered, Alaska Regional. Madison was born in Anchorage like her son but at Providence Hospital, so the Alaska connection runs deep.
Todd was born and raised in Iowa but fell in love in Alaska when he made the trip up in 1996 after graduating from college, riding the Alaska Marine Highway System on a ferry.
Correction: This story has been updated to correct the date of the couple’s first doctor visit, which occurred October 17th, not August as previously reported.
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