Baby early, dad late: Barton’s first baby of 2006 arrives |

Baby early, dad late: Barton’s first baby of 2006 arrives

Susan Wood
Dan Thrift / Tahoe Daily Tribune/ Alex, left, and Jennifer Hernandez, of South Lake Tahoe, welcome their daughter Valerie as the first baby of 2006 at Barton Memorial Hospital on Monday morning.

Storms may have delayed New Year’s traffic this holiday weekend, but it didn’t hold up 7-pound, 11-ounce Valerie Hernandez from entering this turbulent world.

Parents Alex and Jennifer Hernandez reflected Monday on their daughter’s early and dad’s late arrival as the first baby of the year born at 1:24 p.m. Sunday at Barton Memorial Hospital.

Valerie was due Jan. 6. She entered the world via natural child birth in seven hours, almost half the time of her older brother, Marty, 2.

Her father was taken a little by surprise. He was tending to Marty at their powerless Bijou-area home on Sunday, when he got a call from his wife in the hospital. The family, which will hunker down at the South Lake Tahoe hospital Monday night, was still without power that afternoon.

“She said: ‘She’s coming,'” he recalled, grinning. “I saw the traffic (on Highway 50) and went crazy. I did some things.”

The father said he drove in emergency lanes off Highway 50 and took all the usual Tahoe shortcuts from Blackwood to Third streets. Still, he got to the hospital 30 minutes after she was delivered.

When the father got there and saw his baby girl, he said he cried. Then, he yawned from lack of sleep.

Grandmother Valerie Hernandez had the same reaction, especially since the 19-inch bundle of joy is named after her.

“This is huge. I get teary-eyed thinking about it,” she said from her Carson City home.

She also had the same difficulty rushing to the hospital from home Sunday afternoon. She said it took her over an hour to get to Tahoe.

“I wanted to go down the center lane,” she said.

While her father recounted the stress of Sunday, little Valerie lay restful on her mom on Monday with her second bottle of the day in her mouth. A Red Flyer wagon was filled with $1,000 worth of gifts such as diapers and bibs as well as certificates, courtesy of local businesses for being Barton’s first baby.

Across the hall, a wild-eyed Valentine Hernandez – no relation – waited for his wife to deliver.

When things calm down, the first-baby couple – who’ve been married for three years – will look forward to settling down at home. She works for Barton housekeeping, and he at Les Schwab.

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