by Justin Vick
CORNELIUS – Cornelius resident Stephanie Penninger gave birth to Mooresville’s first baby of the New Year at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 1, at Lake Norman Regional Medical Center.
Giuliana Grace Penninger arrived 12 days early but healthy, weighing 6 pounds, 4 ounces, and measuring 17.5 inches long. Penninger brought Giuliana home from the hospital on Sunday, Jan. 2.
“I didn’t really celebrate New Year’s like I usually do, but the baby’s here,” said Penninger, 20. “That’s my New Year’s gift this year. It feels really good to have that feeling.”
The night before she gave birth to Giuliana, Penninger had a dream in which a strange man with a Jheri curl told her she was going to have the baby that night. When Penninger woke up, she felt contractions.
Though the baby was due Jan. 13, Stephanie was prepared to deliver at any time. She went to Lake Norman Regional Medical Center at 5:30 a.m. Friday, but Giuliana wasn’t quite ready to arrive.
Penninger went home to relax.
“I was laying in bed watching TV, and I was feeling the contractions come on,” Penninger recalled. “I was just killing time. Later on, I was laying on a big exercise ball rolling around trying to relax myself.”
Soon, Giuliana was ready.
Penninger returned to the hospital about 5:30 p.m. Beverly Hooker described the delivery room as a cheerleading section filled with nurses there to support her daughter.
“We were watching the clock,” Hooker said. “Every time she had a contraction, we got three good pushes.” And once midnight struck, Giuliana arrived following another three pushes.
Penninger admits her mind wasn’t on the clock.
“Honestly, I wasn’t even thinking about that,” she said. “I was in so much pain I wanted it to be over with. Help me out, God.”
Turns out, Penninger pursued a natural labor – something her mother had done three times.
“I talked her into a little bit of torture,” Hooker said jokingly.
News of giving birth to Iredell County’s first baby of the New Year has brought excitement to the family, prompting them to buy more than a dozen copies of the Statesville newspaper.
And it’s given Penninger a new outlook for the year.
“I want to be a good mom and do what I can for what’s best for her,” she said.
Huntersville’s first bundle of joy
In Huntersville, Renee and Andrew Hampton were welcoming their own New Year’s Baby as their daughter was the first of 2011 for Presbyterian Hospital.
Alaina Hampton was born at 5:29 p.m. Jan. 1, weighing in at 7 pounds 15 ounces. Along with the title of Baby New Year, Alaina and her parents picked up some perks as well.
Susie Crump, nurse manager for women and children’s services at the hospital, arranged for a gift basket for the family from A Woman’s View Boutique. The basket included a spa treatment for Renee and some outfits for baby Alaina.
Alaina is the Hamptons’ third child.