Edith Joy Undeberg was the first baby born at West Park Hospital in the new year. She is pictured with (from left) MaKinley, 5, Russell, 11, Jessica, Brandon and Remington, 7.

From conception, West Park Hospital’s first baby of 2020 has been a child marked by surprises.

Edith Joy Undeberg was born at 7:36 a.m. Thursday to Brandon and Jessica Undeberg, who say they were surprised when they learned child No. 4 was on the way.

“We weren’t expecting a fourth one,” Jessica said. “But God had other plans.”

Brandon said he’s excited to add one more to the family nest.

“I am the oldest of six,” he said. “A big family is not new to me.”

Brandon teaches art at Cody High School, and Jessica, who put her teaching career on hold a few years ago, now manages the Undeberg household as a stay-at-home mom.

That the birth would be a fourth cesarean section for Jessica was established well in advance after emergency measures resulted in their first child Russell’s surgical birth.

Despite the Jan. 2 scheduled delivery, the couple had expected to check into the hospital sooner based on previous pregnancies.

“Our two girls never made it to the scheduled day, so we thought this would be a Christmas baby,” Jessica said.

With that in mind, Jessica’s mother Linda Riley arrived from New York on Dec. 19 to ensure she’d be on hand when her sixth grandchild was born. She and husband Mark were Cody residents for several decades before leaving the area a few years ago.

Edith is grandchild No. 20 for Brandon’s parents Richard and Connie Undeberg in Minnesota.

A Jan. 2 birthday is special because Edith shares a birthdate with Brandon’s grandfather, who passed away a few years ago.

As they’d done with their previous children, the Undebergs decided to keep the baby’s gender a mystery.

“When Dr. Williams held her up, that was a fun surprise,” Jessica said.

“I thought it was a boy,” daughter Remington, 7, said. “But it wasn’t.”

Naturally, Russell, 11, had hoped for a brother.

“But that’s OK. At least it’s healthy,” he said.

When Russell returned to Sunset School on Monday, he knew exactly who he wanted to tell first about Edith’s birth – principal Jay McCarten, who’d consistently asked about the pending birth before the two-week school holiday break.

Because their first three children were born as blonds, the Undebergs were also startled to see Edith Joy’s full head of curly, wet dark hair.

One final surprise came when they learned Edith Joy was WPH’s first baby of the new year.

Considering the nursery had been quite busy with at least eight births Dec. 17-21, when Brandon and Jessica checked into the hospital at 5:30 a.m. Thursday, they gave no thought about having the first baby of 2020.

The happy distinction comes with gifts from local merchants and organizations that include a new stroller, free oil changes for a year, a baby layette basket and a couple of $50 gift certificates.

Such items are welcome. Not expecting a fourth child, the Undebergs had given most everything away.

On Friday afternoon, one-day-old Edith remained the only baby in WPH’s nursery.

“We were surprised by her all around,” Jessica said, bestowing a tender look at Edith as the other children snuggled around her.

What’s not a surprise is the family’s excitement over their darling baby girl, thanks for the gift of a precious child, and the blessing of a delivery and post-delivery expertly managed by a WPH medical team who made the experience feel as if they were family.

The couple looked to their family tree for a name. Edith is named for Jessica’s great-grandmother and, on Brandon’s side, a great-grand aunt. The name is Old English meaning “riches or blessed” and “war.”

“We thought it is kind of special because parenthood can be hard,” Jessica said. “But it’s definitely rewarding.”

Russell had named McKinley, now 5, when she was born. This time Remington and MaKinley were asked to come up with Edith’s middle name.

While their mother was pregnant, the three siblings called the baby “Bumble,” after the Abominable Snow Monster from the “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” classic. Whether the nickname sticks is yet to be seen.

Snow monster or cute bundle of “Joy,” Edith’s brother and sisters clearly adore her.

“I love my little sister,” whispered MaKinley at first sight.

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