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Published on January 07, 2019

Tricia Merrigan and Royce

New Year’s Baby Born to Avera Surgeon

The Merrigans have varied car seats and boosters in their family minivan, and as of Jan. 1, they added an infant seat for the newest arrival, who happens to be the first baby of 2019 at Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center.

Royce Jonathon was born at 5:44 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 1, to Jon and Tricia Merrigan. He joins four siblings – three girls and one boy – who range in age from 10 to 3. Tricia Merrigan, MD, is a specialized breast surgeon with Avera Medical Group.

“We are of a mindset that we take our kids with us,” Merrigan said, hence the importance of the minivan. Most of the time she and her husband can work out their schedules so one or the other is with the children.

That’s one way they balance a busy life of career and parenting of four – make that five – children.

“We just divide and conquer. I couldn’t do this without my husband. He’s incredibly supportive and our older kids are helpful as well,” Merrigan said. Jon Merrigan operates his own driver’s education business and typically is out driving with students evenings and weekends.

Approaching the 39th week of her pregnancy, Merrigan kept going with her clinic and surgery schedule until Dec. 28, and on Dec. 31 attended a flag football tournament for her 7-year-old son.

She was already scheduled to have labor induced on Jan. 1 and planned to go to the hospital at 7 a.m. that morning.

But she had started feeling some contractions, and around 2 a.m. on Jan. 1, her water broke partially. So they headed to the hospital where her labor progressed until Royce was born in the late afternoon. “I didn’t think he’d be the New Year’s baby because he was born late in the day, but it still turned out he was the first one that day.”

She was grateful to have shared the experience with some of her Avera family, including Catherine Brockmeier, DO, Avera McKennan laborist who delivered Royce. She also knows the nurses on the fourth floor post-partum unit, where her breast surgery patients also stay while recovering.

The birth went just as well as her other four, and Royce is healthy at 7 pounds, 14 ounces. “I just turned 40, so I knew there was greater risk. Being a doctor myself, I probably worried more about what could have gone wrong,” she said.

Yet the fifth birth experience was similar enough to the others that she joked it was like having the same baby over and over again. “My kids are carbon copies of each other and he looks exactly like his brother did at birth,” Merrigan said.

“We’ve been lucky to have content, easy-going babies who go with the flow.” Merrigan doesn’t worry too much about becoming sleep deprived in the weeks to come. “A new baby is nothing compared to being on call as a surgeon around the clock.”

Merrigan hopes it will be fun for Royce to have his birthday on New Year’s Day. “It will be a special story to tell him. It will be exciting to look back at the videos and articles and have that extra celebration of his birth.”

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