Megan Beck, 21, nestles her newborn son, Salem Meer La Caze, Acadiana’s first baby of 2019, hours after giving birth Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019, at Women’s & Children’s Hospital.

Megan Beck hoped her first child would be born on Dec. 22, the birthday of her late father who passed unexpectedly four years ago in a farming accident. But, Salem Meer La Caze had different plans.

Salem entered the world at 2:58 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 1 at Women’s & Children’s Hospital, becoming Acadiana’s first baby of the new year. He weighed 5 pounds, 8 ounces and was 20 inches.

“He came when he wanted,” said Megan, 21, of Kaplan, who snuggled in her hospital bed with Salem hours after seeing his face for the first time. Her thumb softly stroked his tiny fingers as they wrapped tightly around her index finger. “It was very exciting. I wasn’t supposed to have him until Jan. 2. I was scheduled to be induced tonight.”

This was Megan’s first pregnancy and, according to the new mom, it was mostly “uneventful” except for “terrible” morning sickness that lasted throughout the 40 weeks she carried Salem. As the months progressed, Megan would read children’s books to Salem and talk to him about his family, about what he may become and other hopes for the future.

“I hope he gets into sports,” she explained. “His father played high school football and is really into sports. But, honestly, we don’t really have any big plans for him other than for him to be happy and healthy.”

Target on Ambassador Caffery Parkway presented Megan and Salem with a gift basket brimming with toys, clothes, breastfeeding supplies and other items that will make the new family’s first few months together much easier. 

“I want to thank them so much,” Megan said. “They are helping out more than they realize. This is just awesome.”

Megan also offered advice for other moms expecting the arrival of their first child this holiday.

“Don’t stress about it,” she said. “Don’t listen to labor stories from others. Your experience will be completely different, uniquely your own. No matter what pain you may feel, it’s all worth it in the end.”