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First Penticton baby of 2014 a real GEM

The Penticton woman who gave birth to the city's first baby of 2014, used to joke that the baby would be born on New Year's Day.

Sure enough, little Grace Elizabeth McNeil came into the world at 8:10 p.m., Jan. 1 at Penticton Regional Hospital.

"My due date was Dec. 31, and my guess was Jan. 1, and that's when she was born," said her mother Alison McNeil, as she rested at the hospital on Thursday. "It wasn't something we planned, and it is pretty special."

McNeil was in labour for 20 hours, before giving birth to Grace. The baby weighed 9 pounds, 6 ounces when she was born.

The proud new mother and her husband Mark McNeil, decided on the name Grace, after the name came to them during a walk, then a dream.

"I was just walking, when I heard in my head, you're going to name your baby Grace," said Mark McNeil, who was with Alison during her labour. "Then four months ago, Alison had a dream about naming the baby Grace."

They decided on the middle name, Elizabeth, because that makes the baby's initials, G.E.M.

The couple, she is a teacher and he an electrician, already have one child, Micah, a boy.

Micah  was 9 pounds, 13 ounces when he was born.

"Alison has a Russian background, so we joke she makes big Russian babies," said Mark McNeil.

The couple will stay a little longer in the hospital to relax. Once they get home, they plan to spend time snuggling with and enjoying the baby.

The excitement of giving birth to the first Penticton baby of 2014 will also linger for a while.

"It's nice to celebrate a new life with the whole community, with people you don't know rejoicing," said Chris McNeil.

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