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Penticton's first baby makes graceful entry

Proud parents Alison and Mark McNeil of Penticton with baby Grace Elizabeth, who was born at 8:10 p.m. on Jan. 1, making her the South Okanagan’s new year’s baby. - Joe Fries/Western News
Proud parents Alison and Mark McNeil of Penticton with baby Grace Elizabeth, who was born at 8:10 p.m. on Jan. 1, making her the South Okanagan’s new year’s baby.
— image credit: Joe Fries/Western News

Penticton’s New Year’s baby was nearly a day late.

Second-time parents Alison and Mark McNeil welcomed daughter Grace Elizabeth into the world at 8:10 p.m. on Jan. 1 at Penticton Regional Hospital.

The nine-pound, six-ounce bundle of joy arrived a day past her original due date, after her mom spent 20 hours in labour. Alison said the possibility of having the first baby of 2014 crossed her mind when she learned she was due on New Year’s Eve.

“We joked about it at the midwives’ appointment saying it would be kind of funny,” Alison said in an interview Thursday at PRH.

“We’re pretty competitive, but it just happened (this) way."

Despite her extended labour, the 30-year-old school teacher, who became a stay-at-home mom in 2012 following the birth of her son, Micah, has quickly returned to good spirits.

“I was really thankful that everything went well and very grateful for the staff here. They’re fantastic,” she said.

Mark, a 28-year-old electrician, said the couple, married in 2011, selected the baby’s name based on a divine suggestion.

“God told us the name. I was walking one day and I really felt strongly that He told me to name her Grace,” Mark explained. “And then Alison had a dream a few months later with the same type of thing.”

Alison is planning to stay in hospital for a few more days to recover before taking Grace home. The couple hopes to eventually add a couple more children to their family.

Meanwhile, the B.C. Vital Statistics Agency has reported that Olivia and Ethan were the most popular baby names in 2012.

The agency said in its annual report this week that 297 baby boys were named Ethan that year, while the next most popular choices were Liam (264), Lucas (231), Mason (207) and Logan (203).

Olivia was the name bestowed upon 274 girls, while Emma (265), Sophia (232), Emily (195) and Ava (187) rounded out the top five. Grace was the name of choice for 101 baby girls, making it the 18th most popular selection for females.

There were 44,270 births recorded in B.C. in 2012, up from 43,911 in 2011. Data for 2013 is not yet available.

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