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She’s A Surprise Gift From Heaven


As she toddles around the Children’s Room at the Waterville Public Library, Elsieanna Grace Fortnam comes oh so close to taking her first steps without holding on to anything.


Her parents, Scott and Shana Fortnam of Hubbardsville, watch their little girl navigate around, smiling with pride and love. Shana reaches out a hand to help her daughter take some steps.


“Sometimes it’s a jolt to think we’re going through this baby stuff again,’’ Shana said, “at our ages and after so long. But she is truly our miracle and answered a prayer we didn’t know we had.’’


Elsieanna, born April 30, 2022, and weighing a healthy 6 pounds, 14 oz at 20 inches despite coming a month early, made the Fortnams parents for the third time. Son Chayce, 10, loves his role as big brother.


Their oldest child, Owen, was 12 and a sixth grader at Memorial Park School in February 2019 when he died of injuries from a sledding accident.


In the four years since, the Fortnams honored their son by helping create Owen’s Nature Trail at the library. A bench and sign are being added this summer.


As they keep Owen close to them, the Fortnams believe he reached out to them. “She is our miracle sent from her big brother in Heaven,’’ Shana said.


Elsieanna, her parents and brothers have been chosen as our 2023 Baby Family of the Year. This is the 21st year of the special feature.


Elsieanna prepares to enter the walking stage despite a number of obstacles from the get-go.


First, because Shana is over 35 and Scott into his late 40s, the chances of becoming pregnant were about 3 percent. Plus they weren’t actually trying to have a baby.


“Around September (2021) I noticed things were late,’’ Shana said. “I scheduled an appointment to see what was up, but being pregnant was not a consideration.’’


Quickly that changed and life became a slog of tests and more…



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