Soldotna couple delivers first child of 2004 on Friday

Posted: Sunday, January 04, 2004

Twenty years ago, Barbara and Ronald O'Lena of Soldotna started off on an adventure to move from Indiana to Alaska. Their new son, Joshua Steven, began his life's adventure at noon Friday already in Alaska.

Though he was born Jan. 2, Joshua still claims the title of first baby of 2004 born in the central Kenai Peninsula. His due date was Sunday, but he decided to get a jump on things early Friday morning.

O'Lena's water broke about 2 a.m. and she went into labor about 8 a.m. At 12:02 p.m., Joshua was born at Central Peninsula General Hospital.

"I never expected to have the first baby of the year," Barbara O'Lena said. "To have him show up and be the the first baby, I said, 'Oh, that's interesting.'"

Joshua was 8 pounds, 13 ounces and measured 21 inches. The delivery went well, and mother and baby are doing fine.

"He did really well," O'Lena said. "The doctor came in and checked him out and said he was perfectly healthy and perfectly normal."

Joshua joins four siblings, Gabriel, 14; Rosemarie, 13; Jacob, 8 and Nathan, 6. He's got newborn blue eyes and a fine dusting of wispy, blonde hair, but O'Lena expects he'll end up with hazel eyes and blond hair that darkens with age like all his siblings.

After their ordeal, O'Lena and Joshua were taking it easy and resting at the hospital Friday night.

Ron O'Lena and the kids already had been by to see the new family member, and Ron and Barbara had called many of their relatives, including grandparents Frank and Elizabeth Suter of South Bend, Ind., Marilyn Wise of Mishawaka, Ind., and Dan and Dorothy O'Lena of Osceola, Ind.

"They're all excited, they have a new nephew and a new grandson," Barbara O'Lena said.

O'Lena said she expected to take Joshua home Saturday, though with four active kids already there and Ron leaving for a shift on a Unocal platform Monday, she was enjoying the quiet time the hospital offered.

"With four other children at home, maybe I will stay another day," she joked.

O'Lena is a stay-at-home mom and home schools her children, so she'll have plenty of time to spend with Joshua. Though things can get hectic between schoolwork, the boys playing hockey and Rose-marie in karate, O'Lena said home schooling is the best decision for her family and is worth the effort.

"I think home schooling keeps us focused on the good," she said.

Though Joshua comes into a world that has been marked with violence, terrorism and war of late, O'Lena said you can't focus on those things when deciding to have a child. One of her children asked her if she was worried about having Joshua in this day and age.

"I said, 'Honey, you can't dwell on the bad that's going on. You have to focus on what you contribute to the world, not what the world contributes to you,'" she said.

There's no saying what contributions may be in Joshua's future.

"(My hope for him) is just to grow up and be the best child that he can be, and the best person," O'Lena said.

"I'm just going to enjoy him," she said. "He's already loved by all."

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