New traditions

Couple hope to raise area's first baby born in 2013 with appreciation for native heritage
Photo by Brian Smith James and Meredith Wood pose with their son, Duncan James Wood, on Thursday at Central Peninsula Hospital. Duncan was the first area baby born in the new year at CPH. His parents said they hope to raise him in a way that honors their Alaska Native roots.

Meredith and James Wood had their first child Wednesday, which also happened to be the area’s first baby born in the new year, but already the new father is looking ahead.


James said he wants to have a total of seven children to represent the seven generations of Alaska Native heritage he and his wife Meredith Lysette Wood share.

“Well, one child at a time,” Meredith said with a smile. “I need to get through this one first, but yes, eventually. We want a big family.”

Duncan James Wood was the area’s first baby born in the New Year. He was 7 pounds, 2.6 ounces, was 21 inches long and was delivered at Central Peninsula Hospital on Jan. 2 at 9:35 a.m.

Both baby and mother were happy and healthy as of Thursday evening, Meredith said, adding that being a new mother was as exciting as it was surreal.

“I didn’t think it would ever happen,” she said. “Of course it was a big surprise to have a boy because we didn’t know either way.”

Duncan, Meredith said, was due on Dec. 27, so the Soldotna couple thought the child would be a Christmas baby instead of a New Years baby.

“I don’t think we were really thinking about it much at all, but it is definitely special to us, so it is neat to have it a little more special to everybody else, too,” she said of her child’s added notoriety.

James said he has helped deliver many babies from women in combat areas during his service as a Navy physicians assistant. He said Duncan’s delivery was a very spiritual process and being a new father was a profound feeling.

“I’ve been at war a long time and don’t feel (anything),” he said. “This is the first, really.”

The couple settled on Duncan, a Scottish name, serendipitously, they said.

“We were sitting up on the Slope earlier this year thinking about it ...” Meredith said.

“And right out of the blue,” James said. “It comes, not picking through a book, it just comes. Just like our daughters that are coming have been named. Their souls exist now.”

James and Meredith said they hope to raise Duncan with an appreciation for native heritage and traditional lifestyle on their small Soldotna ranch that already has two horses, three dogs, three cats, a bird and other animals.

“He was always a really active baby with a lot of strength and power behind his kicks for sure and every time we had an ultrasound he would just not stand still,” Meredith said.

“We’ve got a picture of him waving,” James said.

The couple’s hope for their New Years baby?

“I guess we don’t have expectations,” she said. “We just want him to be what is true to him.”

Said James, “The child is born of our genetics and of the spirits of our people. We will hopefully raise him how he is supposed to be, whatever he will be within the community. Everybody has their place.”

Brian Smith can be reached at