Born at 2:11 a.m. on Jan. 1, 1980, Stephanie Gayle Sloan was the first baby of a new decade in Mesa County.

She was 6 pounds, 14 ounces and 19½ inches long, and despite her grand New Year’s Day entrance, she was more than a week late.

Her mother’s due date was Christmas Eve, and baby Stephanie’s delay turned into an anxious Christmas for her parents, Ralph and Cathy Sloan.

When labor finally came on New Year’s Eve, the couple went to St. Mary’s Hospital, only to be sent home. A few hours later, however, they were back.

Ralph was supposed to help Cathy breathe through contractions, but every time one came he would yawn, said Cathy, recalling her frustration with a laugh.

She wanted a boy, and he wanted a girl, and he was still debating between the names Stephanie and Samantha while at the hospital, Cathy said.

When Stephanie finally made her appearance in the wee hours of New Year’s Day, she and her parents were given all kinds of gifts by local businesses, and interviewed by TV and newspaper reporters.

But Stephanie herself was the biggest gift, of course. Her parents had been told they couldn’t have children and had kind of given up hope. In fact, when Cathy was told she was pregnant, she responded, “We’ve been through this before. Don’t mess with me.”

Stephanie was her miracle baby, her only child, and has green eyes like her maternal grandmother, said Cathy, 67, who now has the last name Hatch.

On Wednesday, New Year’s Day, those green eyes will open to a new decade as Stephanie turns 40.

Last week, she wasn’t exactly sure how she would celebrate, but said neither the number nor the age bothers her. Maybe 50 will, she wondered.

Through the years she has learned the good and bad about sharing a birthday with a holiday, she said.

Having Christmas and a birthday so close that they often got lumped together when it came to gifts wasn’t so fun, and neither was having a birthday party postponed because of a holiday, but “I never had to go to school on my birthday and I normally don’t have to work on my birthday,” she said.

When she was 5, she celebrated her birthday with a party at Pizza Hut. Pepperoni pan pizza is still her favorite.

For many of her other birthdays growing up, she had slumber parties. Her mom would pile girls and sleeping bags into her truck and take them cruising North Avenue.

At least one of those slumber parties didn’t go so well and her mom ended up taking all the girls home because they were fighting, Stephanie said.

When she turned 16, there likely was another slumber party, and after the New Year’s holiday, she went to get her driver’s license.

“As sad as it is, it took me three times to pass the test,” she said.

And then the whole thing was overshadowed by her dad’s death on Jan. 16, 1996.

When she turned 18, Stephanie and a friend drove to Aspen to hang out and discovered there was a John Denver event happening — the late musician’s birthday is Dec. 31. That scene wasn’t something she and her friend were into, so after walking around for awhile, they tried to find a place to stay for the night, Stephanie said.

All the hotel rooms in Aspen and down the valley were booked, so they ended up going home, she said.

For her 19th birthday, Stephanie and that same friend went to Denver, which ended up a better choice than the previous year because on Jan. 2, 1999, Stephanie met Charles Wright. A year and a few months later, the two married.

At 21, Stephanie Wright and her husband were living in Denver, and she drove to Grand Junction to spend her birthday with her mom who gave her a lottery ticket. The numbers were 7, 11, 21 and she won $21.

The coincidence of winning $21 on her 21st birthday sticks in her mind, but her other birthdays, not so much, she said.

Besides, there’s another birthday that stands out these days. For 15 years, she and her husband hoped for children. Then, on Oct. 30, 2015, their son Trey Wright was born.

“He was born on my mom’s birthday,” Cathy said.

“That is awesome,” said Trey, looking at his mother and grandmother with a big 4-year-old smile.

“I’m pretty proud of her,” Cathy said, looking at her daughter.

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