Homer welcomes first baby of 2021

In a year stifled and disrupted by a global pandemic, a lot of things change or get canceled. There are some events that can’t be stopped though, including the inevitable arrival of the first local baby born in the new year.

This year, that baby was Eleanor Rose Walker, who arrived as a true New Year child at 11:26 a.m. on Jan. 1, born at South Peninsula Hospital to Victoria and Robert Walker of Homer. She weighed 8 pounds, 12 ounces, and is doing good so far, according to her mother.

Eleanor is the Walkers’ first child, and only one of them knew that the “New Year baby” was a thing beforehand. Victoria Walker, reached by phone Tuesday, said she hadn’t really been aware that people made a big deal about the first baby born each year, but that her husband grew increasingly excited about it as the end of 2020 drew nearer. The baby’s due date was Dec. 27.

Walker said she had to take a COVID-19 test three days prior to entering the hospital to give birth. In the end, past due, she ended up having to take a lot of them in anticipation of heading into the birthing center. The people at the self-administer testing site near the hospital got to know who she was, she said.

Opening a dictionary and looking up the word “easy” won’t land you with the definition of pregnancy. Preparing to give birth and then actually experiencing it during a pandemic is a whole other story. Walker said COVID-19 definitely made things different and more difficult — the prospect of having a baby shower, for example.

“It came with its challenges, but overall I think it went OK,” Walker said.

When it came to actually giving birth at the hospital, Walker said it was disappointing to not be able to have any family there besides her husband, but that the birth went well.

“Other than that, it was really good actually,” she said.

Walker said she did most of her laboring at home, and was only in the hospital from about 5 a.m. to when her daughter arrived near 11:30 a.m.

The birthing process went well, and all the staff “were really nice,” Walker said. Eleanor did not have any complications, and has been eating really well since the Walkers got her home.

“She’s doing good,” Walker said. “She sleeps really well.”

When it came to choosing Eleanor’s name, Walker said it’s something she and her husband actually decided on shortly after they married, because it was one of the only names they could agree on.

As is customary at South Peninsula Hospital, the couple received a basket of gifts for new parents that’s given out to the first baby born each year. Walker said a nurse told her it was a bit smaller than usual, as the hospital had a harder time this year getting donations from businesses.

Eleanor’s grandparents are Jennifer and Vernon Bashor, and Rose and Mike Walker, all of Wasilla.

She wasn’t the only baby South Peninsula Hospital was busy with at the start of the new year. On Jan. 2, SPH delivered three more babies — all boys, and two of them twins, making for a busy birthing center at the start of 2021.

Reach Megan Pacer at mpacer@homernews.com.