Homer’s first baby born in 2019 gave her family a bit of a scare when she arrived, but is otherwise happy and healthy.
Sequoia Snow Bettinger was born at 8 a.m. on Jan. 1 at South Peninsula Hospital to Allyse and Owen Bettinger. She weighed 9 pounds, 3 ounces and came out at 21.5 inches long.
The birth went according to how Allyse Bettinger wanted, she said. The staff were all attentive to her vision for the birth and the family got excellent care, she said. She was particularly happy that families can labor, deliver and recover all in the same room in the birthing center at the hospital, which wasn’t her experience with the birth of her first child, now 4-year-old Juneau.
“We had our moment of ecstasy, like, ‘this is amazing,’” Allyse said.
Shortly after her birth, however, Sequoia started showing signs of difficulty breathing. A respiratory therapist was brought in, and it was determined she had either a collapsed lung or an under-inflated lung. What ended up happening was that a portion of air got trapped between Sequoia’s lung and the wall of her chest.
“The only cure was time for her body to reabsorb that air,” Allyse said.
Since SPH doesn’t have the set up for a neonatal or newborn intensive care unit, staff wanted to medevac Sequoia to Providence Hospital in Anchorage for monitoring until the situation corrected. The family ended up spending five unanticipated days in Anchorage at hotels and at the hospital. They returned this week to their homestead off East End Road on Bald Mountain.
The Bettingers moved from Nevada City, California in 2017. Inspired by the homesteading tradition started by Owen’s great-grandfather in California in the 1900s, they bought their own land once arriving.
“When we moved to Homer, we cleared our land, hummock by hummock, alder by alder with pickaxes and chainsaws and built our small 16-by-16 dry cabin from the ground up,” Owen wrote in an email. “We hope that Sequoia and Juneau one day take over the land and keep it going for their families and future generations to come.”
Getting to the hospital from that cabin on Bald Mountain was as much of an adventure as their daughter’s birth. Allyse said she had been laboring for several days when, on New Year’s Eve, her contractions got a lot closer together. Springing into action, Owen took several loads down to their truck on Hutler Road on the snowmobile the family uses to get to and from their home.
“It was blowing sideways snow; I could barely see,” Owen said. “(I told her) ‘Tap me on the back once if you’re having a contraction!’”
The ride from the cabin to the main road was an interesting experience for a laboring Allyse.
“It was pretty intense since I was laboring for over a week,” she said of the ride.
After several stops along the way for contractions, the couple eventually got to the hospital for the birth. That long, dark trip through the snow proved to be the inspiration for Sequoia’s middle name. Traveling through the snow is how she came into the world, and it’s how she got home after her adventure in Anchorage, Allyse said.
The Bettinger family’s history is what inspired the couple to name their child Sequoia. The couple had already been thinking about the name for a few years, and had considered it for their first child before they found out he was a boy.
“My great-grandfather has 20 acres of old growth redwoods up … in Humboldt County in California, and I’ve been going up there my whole life,” Owen said. “We were both born and raised in the Bay area of California and have a strong tie to the redwoods. … (We) just fell in love with the name, and knew she was going to be tall and strong, and it was very fitting.”
Upon their return from Anchorage, the Bettingers realized their neighbor had taken care of their chickens in their absence and lit a fire to keep the house warm, among other things.
Now that Sequoia is home, she’s gotten to meet the family dog and spend some bonding time with her big brother, Juneau.
“He’s so excited,” Allyse said of her son. “We got home that night and he had napped obviously in the truck. And we get home and he’s like ‘I wanna hold my sister!’ So we got him all set up on the bed.”
“At three o’clock in the morning,” Owen added.
“He held her more in the hospital more than dad did,” Allyse said of her son, who loves helping to feed Sequoia.
The Bettingers are happy to be home and confident that Sequoia recovered well from the incident.
Coincidentally, South Peninsula Hospital had a second baby born on Jan. 1, Morgan Alexander Malcolm Wertz, born at 6:16 p.m. to Melissa Malcom and Chris Wertz of Anchor Point. He weighed 7 pounds, 15 ounces. His grandparents are Linda and Gary Wertz of McMinnville, Oregon, and Maureen and Don Malcolm of Homer.
The following businesses donated supplies and treats for the Bettinger family:
Ulmer’s: Breastfeeding supplies, baby toy, baby bathing items, sleeper and other baby goodies.
Homer Shore Store: Baby first puzzle, teething toy, storage pouch
The Other Book Club: Baby books
Alaska Flower Mill: New Year’s Baby flower bouquet
Café Cups: $50 gift card
Funny River Quilters: Baby Quilt
Spenard Builders Supply: Many items including trashcan, LED lantern and batteries, cleaning supplies, safety drawer and appliance latches and indoor/outdoor thermometer.
The Grog Shop: A bottle of champagne
The Homer Bookstore: $25 gift certificate
Sprout Family Services: Gifts including 2 dvds, receiving blanket, punch card and books
Oodalolly: True swaddle blanket
Homer’s Jeans: Smartwool socks and Carhart Overalls
Scott’s Pharmacy: Shower pouf, candle, shampoo, and bubble bath
SPH Auxiliary: Several wrapped gifts
Flying Whale Coffee and Gifts: Teddy bear, booties, hat, toy, child safety lock set, bath set for mom
Captain’s Toy Chest: Snuggle baby cuddle
Homer Theatre: Movie, popcorn, and drink passes