The first baby of 2021 born at Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau came into the world at 7:50 on Tuesday morning: a nine and a half pound baby girl named Madelynn Rose McCallister.
Her parents, Alexus Forehand and Kevin McCallister, live in Skagway. They came to Juneau several weeks ago because they thought their baby was due on Dec. 6.
“Once we got here to Juneau, they realized there was a mistake,” said McCallister. “She was due a month later than previously thought.”
McCallister works at the Canadian border crossing in Skagway, and he didn’t have anyone who could sub for him at work. So he’s been traveling back and forth to Juneau on weekends since November. But even with that hassle and the extra month in the hospital, he’s still glad his daughter was born in 2021.
“I’m just glad 2020 is over,” he said. “In general.”
Subtract nine months from right now, and that puts us back at the end of March or beginning of April, which is when COVID-19 came to Alaska. Madelynn Rose is definitely a pandemic baby. But McCallister and Forehand were living in Georgia back then. They found out she was pregnant right as they were about to move to Skagway.
McCallister says he was relieved they moved when they did. Because there were very few cases of COVID-19 in Skagway until late in the year.
“Right around the time it was time to go to Juneau, we started getting our first cases,” he said. “So we just kind of stayed away from everybody.”
McCallister says he felt really safe at Bartlett. They got COVID tested when they were admitted to the hospital.
One of the perks of being born at Juneau’s hospital is that the first baby of the year gets a special keepsake. It’s a wooden cradle in the shape of a boat, made by the Emergency Department Director, Dr. Lindy Jones, who used to deliver babies at the hospital.
McCallister didn’t know they were in the running for a prize.
“We didn’t know about it until the ladies brought it to the door,” he said. “It is absolutely awesome! It’s a work of art. It’s got all copper nails. Everything has been hand cut.”
The couple has two other small children at home in Skagway. A boy who’s two and girl who’s three.
“We won’t be home an hour, and they’re going to be sitting in this thing with their fishing poles,” he said. “They’re going to fall in love with this thing.”