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Lowell teacher has Crow Wing County’s 1st baby of 2022

Liam Thomas Vanderflute, born Saturday, Jan. 1, is the first baby of 2022 in Crow Wing County.

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Michelle Vanderflute, a second grade special education teacher at Lowell Elementary School, poses with newborn son Liam, who was the first Crow Wing County baby born in 2022. Contributed

Michelle Vanderflute and her newborn son Liam have something in common. They both can lay claim to the title of the first baby of the new year born in their respective hospitals.

Liam Thomas Vanderflute was born a week early at 7:25 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 1, at Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Brainerd, making him Crow Wing County’s first baby of 2022.

Likewise, mom Michelle was the New Year’s baby when she was born Jan. 4 in Grand Forks 28 years ago.

“I was like, ‘Wow, this is kind of ironic,’” Vanderflute said during a phone interview Sunday, Jan. 2.

Little Liam, coming into the world at 7 pounds, 10.5 ounces and 20.5 inches long, makes the Vanderflutes a family of four, joining mom Michelle, dad Kyle and big sister Lucy, who’s 7 years old and incredibly excited to have a baby brother.

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Liam Thomas Vanderflute, born at 7:25 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022 at Essentia Health-St. Joseph's Medical Center, is Crow Wing County's first baby of 2022. Contributed

“All her other friends have siblings, so now she’s super excited to also have a sibling,” Vanderflute said.

Lucy had only met her brother over video chat as of Sunday and was eagerly awaiting his trip home.

About 60 second graders at Lowell Elementary School in Brainerd, where Vanderflute is a special education teacher, have been just as eager for Liam’s arrival.

“They’ve been seeing me get bigger and bigger, and for Halloween I wore a costume with a baby on it,” she said. “So yeah, they’re super excited.”

And, of course, Mom and Dad are pretty thrilled, too.

“He’s a really good baby, and he’s super healthy, so that’s been good.” Vanderflute said. “... We’ve been wanting to have another kid for a long time, so it’s really exciting that he’s finally here.”

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The road to Liam’s birth was much different than what Vanderflute encountered the first time around with Lucy, though, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There’s no visitors, so it feels like we’re kind of on our own a little bit more. And even when we go home, it’s kind of limited to who he sees because the virus is so bad in this area,” she said, noting she feels both a little isolated but also grateful for some uninterrupted family time.

Vanderflute will bond with Liam at home until she goes back to her excited students on Valentine’s Day, after which husband Kyle, who works for Catholic Financial Life, will be able to work from home while taking care of the baby.

Michelle grew up in Nisswa, while Kyle is originally from Gilbert. The two met in Duluth and moved back to Brainerd a couple years ago.

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at theresa.bourke@brainerddispatch.com or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchTheresa .
Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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