Pekinites Jessica Toungett and her boyfriend Christopher Bracken were surprised to learn on Jan. 2 that they were having the first baby of the new year in Pekin.

Jace Rhyan Chance Bracken entered the world at 7:11 a.m. Jan. 2 at UnityPoint Health - Pekin.

“Absolutely, we were surprised,” Toungett said. 

When compared to the birth of her first son, Toungett’s second child was born into a hospital with a starkly different atmosphere. Toungett said on Jan. 2 the hospital floor was empty compared to a bustling environment when she was there for the birth of her first son, Jaxson Bracken, 19 months, on May 2016.

When she arrived at the hospital at 1 a.m. Jan. 2, “They made me walk around the halls to get me through my contractions and every room was empty. It was weird,” she said. “When I had my first son, I was induced, and I had to push off my induction because there was so many babies waiting to be born.”

After four or five good contractions and an epidural, midwife Chris Enright delivered Jace in 11 minutes. He weighed 7 pounds, 12 ounces and was 19.5 inches long.

Toungett said she learned of the special birth distinction when she was about to get her epidural.

“They walked in and told me (he was the first baby of the new year), and I was like, ‘Wow, OK.’”

She said her boyfriend was surprised as well.

“He thought it was very cool actually,” Toungett said. “He didn’t think it would work like that. He definitely didn’t think we had the first baby of the year considering we had him on the 2nd.”

One of the highlights of the occasion, Toungett said, was receiving “a really nice Medela double breast pump kit.” She also received a brand new boxed up car seat, gift cards, a blanket, stuffed animals and a piggy bank. 

One special item Toungett said she received is a baby memoriabilia ring from Udry Jewelry in Pekin. 

“That was really cool,” Toungett said.

Jace was welcomed home by his grandparents Teresa Toungett of Pekin, Mandy Lucas of Pekin and Christopher Bracken of Decatur.

Next Thursday, Jessica will be back to work at Dollar General in South Pekin, but for now she is at home resting and spending time with her boyfriend and their new (year’s) baby boy.