LOWELL — When Ashley Carey and her husband, Brian Zanchi, learned the due date for their baby’s birth was Jan. 1, it was a welcome development for Zanchi. For a long time, the electrical engineer had wanted to father the first baby of the year.

“At 4:30 in the afternoon, I didn’t think we’d have any shot at being the first one,” Carey, 27, said Tuesday afternoon with a smile.

All doubts were dispelled after Carey gave birth Monday to the first Lowell-born baby of the new year at Lowell General Hospital. Lucia Wren Carey-Zanchi, their first child, was born at 4:31 p.m. She weighed 7 pounds, 15 ounces, and was 19.5 inches. She was one of three babies born on Jan. 1 at the hospital, according to hospital staff.

The Dracut couple had waited until the birth to find out if their baby was a girl or — as Carey predicted (incorrectly) — a boy.

On Tuesday afternoon, not even 24 hours after she was born, Lucia slept on Carey’s chest in Lowell General’s Maternal Infant Unit. She later woke up and cried a little when her mother moved from the bed to a nearby couch for a photo. Soon after, Lucia was quiet again in the comfort of her mother’s arms.

“It’s surreal. I think it’s all setting in, still,” Carey said. “It’s crazy… it’s hard to believe that she’s mine and that I’m going to be taking her home tomorrow.”

Zanchi, 28, said he felt great and happy.

“Excited for a healthy baby,” the first-time father added, as he looked over at his wife and baby.

About 2,300 babies are born at Lowell General each year, according to Lowell General Hospital spokesman William Courtney.

Carey, who teaches art at Lawrence High School, said she awoke to contractions at 7 a.m. Monday. After breakfast, she and her husband headed to the hospital.

Carey said both their families are elated, as Lucia is the first grandchild for both sets of parents.

“It was overwhelming,” Zanchi said of Lucia’s birth.

He admitted that he wanted a girl all along.

“I feel like discipline (with a daughter) will be easier,” Zanchi said. “Maybe?”

“You’re going to be a softie, is what you mean,” his wife teased.

As the couple laughed, Lucia continued sleeping soundly in her mom’s embrace.

Follow Amaris Castillo on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.