Jolene: The second first baby

Six years after having the year’s first baby, the Johnsons had another first baby of the year, the only two-timers in Hood River

January 4, 2006

Jolene Johnson, now 15, wasn’t supposed to be born for another two weeks.

But on Jan. 3, 1991, her mother Kristi was already feeling the contractions she had felt twice before – most recently in early January 1985 when she gave birth to Keith.

Keith was, at that point, the Johnson’s only boy. He was also Hood River County’s first baby of the new year.

He died three years later of bladder cancer.

And now, four years after his death and six years after his birth, the nurses at Hood River Memorial Hospital were again telling Kristi she had another chance at delivering the first baby of the year.

“When we went into the hospital, it wasn’t even in my mind,” Kristi says. “But when we got there, the nurses were saying ‘there’s a lady in labor right now. Maybe you’ll beat her.’ I beat her by 15 minutes.”

She pauses.

“It was special to have another New Year’s baby.”

Said Vern: “When we went into the hospital, the nurses looked at us like ‘You again?’”

Jolene is eight years younger than her older sister, Traci, who is a musicology graduate student in London.

“I worried they would be in their own worlds,” Kristi said. “But they’ve been real close.”

Jolene has a younger sister too: Sierra, 11.

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