What better way to start a new year than with a precious baby girl.
Keira Mackenzie Dowkes made her entrance to the world three weeks early when she arrived at 3:42 a.m. on Tuesday, making her the first baby born in 2017 at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital (KBRH).
Weighing just under seven pounds, her name is very fitting given she was born with a full head of raven-coloured hair.
Keira is the Irish spelling for Kyra and means dark-haired beauty, parents Kevin Dowkes and Stacy Schwab of Grand Forks told the Trail Times.
After having difficulty conceiving, Keira’s mom and dad decided that a 2016 trip to Scotland and Ireland was in order to take their minds off getting pregnant. They had planned to pursue IVF (in vitro fertilization) upon their return to the Boundary country community.
Just before they left for the U.K. however, welcome news came that the couple was indeed expecting.
“We had already booked the trip and a week after, we found out Stacy was pregnant,” said proud pop, Kevin. “So Keira’s first trip was to Scotland and Ireland.”
Her next big trip was by ambulance to Trail late Monday night after Kevin and Stacy made a visit to Grand Forks emergency and were told that mom’s water had broke and the baby was in breech. That’s when things swung into action — babies are not delivered in Grand Forks — mothers are sent to Kelowna, Nelson or Trail to deliver. In this case, a bed was waiting at KBRH, so it was over the frozen Paulson Pass late Monday evening and straight to the KBRH Maternity Ward.
“We scared the people in Grand Forks when we went in, they said, ‘You are not delivering here,’” Kevin chuckled. “Kelowna was the original plan because we have family there, but Trail was closer,” he added. “And it was quite nice to come here because we had almost the whole hospital to ourselves.”
Kevin says the KRBH staff provided a wealth of knowledge when advising the new parents about caring and feeding their first child,but they are ready to head back their Grand Forks home with Keira — discharge was slated for Thursday.
“Everything is very surreal when you are in the hospital,” he shared. “The people have so much skill and knowledge to care for you but we are ready to get back home and be on our own. They can’t do births in Grand Forks, but they have very good care with doulas (trained professional who provides support during childbirth and post partum) and other care providers.”
And there is one person especially excited for the baby’s return to her Boundary city.
“My dad is there,” Stacy said. “He’s excited to see her, it’s his third granddaughter but his first from us.”
As tradition in the Silver City continues, the hospital auxiliary and local businesses bestow the first baby of the year with welcoming gifts such as a gift basket, a handmade baby blanket, an engraved three-piece baby set and gift certificates for groceries and other baby items.
The New Year’s Baby symbolizes the start of the new year and the Ministry of Health notes he or she represents the first of the more than 44,000 babies that are expected to be born in British Columbia in 2017.
The first Interior Health baby in 2017 was born Jan. 1 at 1:31 a.m. in East Kootenay Regional Hospital in Cranbrook.
IH’s Karl Hardt notes that 208 babies were born in KBRH last year, 100 boys and 108 girls. That number was down slightly from 2015 when 223 babies were born, 114 boys and 109 girls.