A baby girl born to a military couple at Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson Hospital early Wednesday morning appears to be the first Anchorage-area baby of 2014.
Layla Grace Gibson was born at 2:24 a.m. to Courtney Gibson and her husband, Army Spc. Jordan Lee Gibson of the 725th Bravo Company Airborne. Layla weighed 8 pounds, 12 ounces at birth and was 21 inches long.
It's the first child for the Gibsons, who moved to Alaska from South Carolina three years ago and recently bought a house in Palmer.
"I'm just glad she's here, safe and healthy," Jordan said. "But I think it's really amazing she's the first one for the new year."
A second New Year's baby, a boy, was born almost exactly six hours later at Providence Hospital. Richie Rithy Lor was born at 8:25 a.m. after roughly 13 hours of labor.
His middle name, Rithy, means "strength" in Cambodian, said his father, Chanra Steven Lor, a contractor in Anchorage.
"We didn't expect him to come on New Year's," Lor said, and the mother, Thyda Lor, chimed in: "We never expected that."
The early-January timing of the birth bears special significance for the Lors. On Jan. 10, 1980, Chanra Steven Lor immigrated to the United States as a refugee from the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia.
And Jan. 1 was the date of Thyda and Steven's 2009 wedding in Cambodia. On Wednesday, the couple sent pictures of the newborn to family members still living in their former country.
"It's a special gift for us New Year's Day," said Thyda Lor, beaming ear to ear.
Reach Devin Kelly at email@example.com or 257-4314.
By DEVIN KELLY