By CHERIL VERNON
The past three times she was pregnant, Melissa Lee has had to be induced.
But this time, her baby came a little early, going into labor on New Year’s Eve to deliver Anderson County’s New Year’s Baby of 2013.
Baby Brandon Graef was born at 4:41 a.m. Jan. 1, weighing 8 lbs. 6 ozs. and 20 inches long, to parents Melissa Lee and Erich Graef of Teague.
As a tradition for the first baby of the year, Palestine Regional Medical Center provided special gifts for the family, including a baby bed, donated by Palestine area merchants.
“It’s pretty amazing. We totally appreciate everything — we can use every bit of it,” Graef said. “We were blessed with this baby boy and blessed with everything we received.”
Lee began having labor pains around 4 p.m. New Year’s Eve day while they were shopping.
“I figured if we went to the hospital, I would be sent home because in the past with the other three, I always had to be induced, I would just have the false labor pains,” Lee said. “I was scheduled to be induced on Jan. 10.”
Keeping busy for a few more hours, Lee and Graef decided to go to the hospital around 7 p.m. as the contractions kept getting stronger.
“Once we got her in a room, she was already dilated to a 3,” Graef said.
Around 11 p.m., her water was broke. As with her past three deliveries, Lee chose to go with pain medication versus having an epidural.
Five hours later, her fourth child was born.
Lee said Brandon was the largest child she has delivered.
“The others were at the most 7 lbs, 6 ounces,” Lee said. “With them, my whole body gained weight, but with Brandon it was just my belly. I couldn’t bend down and I couldn’t put on my shoes.”
Siblings from Lee’s previous marriage — Georja, 4, Madelynn, 7, and Jordan, 10 — welcomed their new brother on New Year’s Day as they all gathered in the hospital room.
“They are fighting over him,” Lee said. “But Georja is a little jealous.”
Graef is employed by Encana Oil & Gas in Franklin and is a Teague volunteer firefighter.
Grandparents are Arlene Mills of Lubbock and the late Arthur Mills.
Dr. Stephen Bates delivered the baby.
Gifts for the new year’s baby were provided by the following merchants: Walmart, baby bed and bedding; Co-Ed Shop, baby bag with bottle; Houston County Life, baby goodie basket; Little Mexico, gift certificate; O’Sweet Pea, bumble bee night light; Silver Lady, silver baby cup; Sunshine Guild volunteers of Palestine Regional Medical Center, baby goodie basket; Wally’s Party Factory, balloon bouquet.