After 10 hours of labor, Amber and Issac Chatham of Soldotna welcomed their baby girl into the world as the first born at Central Peninsula Hospital for 2015.
JoAnna Ray Hadassah Chatham was born at 5:17 p.m. on Friday and weighed in at 8 pounds, 0.4 ounces, 20 inches long. While mother Amber’s due date was set for Dec. 26, 2014, JoAnna decided to follow in her grandmother’s footsteps.
Amber, 26, said her mother, Faith Hall, was the first baby born in the state of Alaska in 1960, just two minutes after midnight. JoAnna is the third generation in her family born in Alaska.
“We were hoping she would come before Christmas but she had other plans,” Amber said. “We are blessed and happy to have her.”
JoAnna is the Chatham’s second child. Four-year-old Mary-Katherine ‘Magpie’ Chatham said she is excited to be a big sister.
“I can’t wait to play with her,” she said. “All she does now is sleep.”
JoAnna Ray’s name comes from her mother’s and uncle’s middle names. Hadassah is the female Jewish name of Queen Esther, Amber’s favorite Bible character.
Issac Chatham, 27, said his brother Ivan “Ray” Chatham held his niece before he was deployed to East Africa with the Alaska Air National Guard out of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
JoAnna has earned the nickname “Johnny,” after John Wayne. Her father’s middle name is Wayne.
The birth was another first for the family. Amber said this was her first birth at a hospital after Magpie was born at Women’s Way Midwifery. Amber said while she had no complaints with a midwifery, this birth went a lot faster after she induced labor.
“The hospital staff did a great job,” she said.
CPH spokesperson Camille Sorenson said while the birth is earlier than last year’s firstborn, which came in a 10:42 p.m. on Jan. 2, 2014, they normally see the first baby born even earlier.
The Chathams brought JoAnna home Saturday. Amber is a stay-at-home-mom while Issac was able to take a few days off from Kenai Aviation before returning to work.
While having a newborn at home is easier the second time around, the biggest challenge is learning all her noises, Issac said.
“Every kid is a little different,” he said. “We are excited to watch her grow up.”
Reach Dan Balmer at firstname.lastname@example.org.