Saturday, December 25, 1999

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
Lynne and Milton Gainey Jr. of Kapolei have been told
their baby is due about Jan. 2. "All we wanted was to
have a child," says Lynne. "It didn't matter when."

Expectant moms
in spotlight as end
of millennium nears

The last U.S. baby born in 1999
in America might come from Hawaii,
but the first baby born on the islands
in 2000 will be just as special

By Helen Altonn


Hawaii and Alaska's Aleutian Islands are contenders for the last baby born this millennium in the United States because of their time zones.

Including U.S. territories, however, American Samoa could have the last baby born in 1999.

Guam, the only U.S. territory on the other side of the dateline, is positioned to have America's first baby of the new millennium.

Lynne and Milton Gainey Jr. of Kapolei didn't think about launching the new millennium with the birth of their first baby when told it was due about Jan. 2.

"All we wanted was to have a child," Lynne Gainey said. "It didn't matter when."

Now that the time is closer, she said, "We'd like to have it Jan. 1 just to have a millennium baby. It would be kind of neat. But when the baby comes, it comes. It's OK."

Maria and Don Barton of Lanikai, expecting their second child about Dec. 26, also didn't think about having Hawaii's last baby of 1999 or the first baby of 2000.

"It would be funny for the both of us because we've just not thought about it," Maria Barton said. "I know people out there are on pins and needles to have a millennium baby.

"When we first found out we were pregnant, a lot of people said, 'Oh, you're going to have a millennium baby.' Do people really do that? I guess there were people who actually attempted to get pregnant so they could have the first baby."

Both couples plan to have their babies at Kaiser Permanente's Moanalua Medical Center, which isn't expecting any more deliveries than usual as 2000 begins, said spokeswoman Jan Kagehiro.

Honolulu hospitals have a friendly rivalry every year over the first baby born on Jan. 1. "Especially this year, it's going to be even more fun," Kagehiro said. "I think everybody is going to want either the last or the first."

Melody Montayre, manager of the Family Birth Center at Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children, said "it's kind of a tradition" among the hospitals to call each other New Year's Eve to see how they're doing on births. "It's kind of a way for us to say 'Happy New Year' to each other."

Most of the hospitals are preparing special gift baskets for the last 1999 and first 2000 babies.

Dreading fireworks

If anyone is hoping for an elective Caesarean section (surgical removal) to try to snag the title of the last baby of 1999 or the first baby of 2000, they're out of luck. The hospitals say they will do C-sections only as a medical necessity.

As the due-date approaches, school friends of the Bartons' 14-year-old daughter are kidding her about the family having the first baby of 2000, Maria Barton said. "It hasn't crossed my mind. We're just ready to get the baby here.

"There's sort of a Catch 22," she said, expressing concern about dealing with the fireworks if she's home at New Year's with a 3- or 4-day old.

"It's going to be intense this year. It's one of those traditions in Hawaii I'm not too fond of. It's going to make a long night, and all the smoke."

The Bartons are both nurse anesthetists at Kaiser's Moanalua Medical Center, but Maria said she was "grounded" three or four weeks ago after having premature contractions.

Lynne Gainey, an accounts receivable clerk at Southern Wine and Spirits of Hawaii, also is ready for Christmas and the baby. "Usually, we start Christmas shopping after Thanksgiving, whereas we started it before," she said. "I was kind of impressed with us. We got some things done early."

'No special manipulations'

Some of the hospitals are increasing staffing New Year's Eve, but none expects a surge of year-end births.

Montayre said Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children is ready for Y2K but is increasing staffing because "we want to anticipate every possibility."

She said the hospital averages about 500 December births, with about 157 anticipated in the three days around New Year's. "There are probably a few more anticipated deliveries, but I think we have planned well enough that we have backup so all our patients are taken care of."

Some years are so quiet at the hospital that no one is due to give birth near midnight, Montayre said. Then there are years like the one when one baby was born one minute after midnight, another two minutes after and another three minutes after, she said. "We had several years when several were born after midnight, and still we didn't have the first baby."

Queens and Tripler officials said they're expecting "business as usual" in their delivery rooms as the year ends.

"If someone's in labor and ready to have their baby, we're here for them," said Tripler spokeswoman Margaret Tippy. She said Tripler averages about 250 births per month, a slight increase in recent years.

Queen's averages about 130 to 150 births per month, said Dr. Norman Sato, chief of the OB/GYN unit. An increase isn't expected, and there will be "no special manipulations," he said, referring to Caesarean sections.

Awaiting 1999's last baby

But if Queen's lands either the last or first babies, he said, "We will be excited."

"We're more focusing on the first baby born in 2000," said Shawn Nakamoto, spokeswoman at St. Francis Medical Center-West. "But more exciting to me is the last baby born in 1999. We're one of the last places to see the changeover. It is pretty significant."

She said it's hard to tell how many births may occur as the year changes, but the hospital is "making preparations just in case." An extra obstetrics nurse and unit clerk will be working, and another OB nurse will be on call, Nakamoto said.

Castle Medical Center isn't expecting any more births than usual, said spokeswoman Helene Waihee. Five is the maximum capacity in the hospital's small well-baby unit, she said.

Regardless which hospital delivers the special 1999 and 2000 babies, Kaiser's Kagehiro said: "It's obviously a very special occasion. We're excited about it."

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