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Sonoma County’s first 2015 baby born hour into new year

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For a few hours there, it looked like the honor of being Sonoma County’s first baby of 2015 would be bestowed on Marshal James Newsom, who arrived at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Santa Rosa at 2:15 a.m. New Year’s Day.

With no other hospitals reporting early morning births, it certainly appeared the 8-pound, 14-ounce first child of Middletown residents Cherish Johnson, 18, and Marshal Newsom, 20, deserved the title.

But then came word that there might be a challenger to the throne.

Rumor had it that there may have been a birth a full hour earlier at the Santa Rosa Women’s Health and Birth Center on Summerfield Road.

And sure enough, it turns out that at 1:10 a.m., the little chubby cheeks of Franklynn Robin Chernus emerged into the waiting arms of her exhausted mother, Crystal Reed, and goofily grinning father, David Chernus.

“She was perfect,” said Reed, a 26-year-old support specialist at a local investment firm.

Resting at home off Mission Boulevard in northeast Santa Rosa on Thursday afternoon, Reed and Chernus, who met while attending Santa Rosa Junior College, were still abuzz with the thrill of their new addition.

The couple chose the Santa Rosa birth center because they wanted the birth of their second child to be as natural and noninvasive as possible. When their son, Elliott, was born four years ago in a local hospital, they didn’t feel as in control of the process as they would have liked, the couple said.

The birth nurses took Elliott away several times for various tests or procedures, telling them what they were doing but never really asking if it was OK with them, Reed said. Once, a nurse who had not been involved in the birth came into the room at night, terrified everyone by saying that Elliott wasn’t breathing, smacked him on the back a few times, and then claimed to have saved his life, said Chernus, who is 29 and works at a hobby shop in San Rafael. In fact, his son had just been sleeping peacefully, he said.

So with their second child on the way, the couple chose the birth center, which for the past 20 years has offered midwife and women’s health care services from a modest office behind the Summerfield Cinemas.

Last year, there were 101 babies born at the center under the care of certified nurse midwives, according to owner Elizabeth Smith-Tyko.

She called it a “huge honor” to have the first baby of the year arrive at the facility, which she purchased last year.

“I’m thrilled that the parents were able to experience their birth at the birth center,” Smith-Tyko said.

When Reed, who was a week overdue, went into active labor at about 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, the couple realized there was a possibility that they could have the first baby of the new year.

But when midnight arrived and Chernus uttered a chipper “Happy New Year,” Reed was in no mood. In agony, she growled that she was going to smash his face in if he kept “grinning like an idiot.”

A little over an hour later, Franklynn, sporting a full head of hair and a downy coat of peach fuzz on her shoulders, made them a proud family of four. She tipped the scales at 7 pounds, 10.5 ounces and measured 19½ inches long.

Later that morning, they took her home and introduced her to her big brother, who held her gently in his arms and dubbed her “Furbina Baby” and said he looks forward to teaching her how to play baseball.

The parents both figured someone else surely would have had a baby closer to midnight than they did, and put it out of their minds until someone from the birth center called and told them Franklynn was the first baby born in Sonoma County this year.

“We hope 2015 is going to be as great a year for everyone as it’s going to be for us,” Chernus said.

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