A couple hours after their first child was born, a Yakutat couple found out their daughter was also Juneau’s first of 2019.
Saige Roisin Kunau was born at 4:33 a.m. Jan. 2 at Bartlett Regional Hospital, and parents Cody Kunau and Samantha Muñoz were relieved. They’d come from Yakutat to Juneau on Dec. 10, as Muñoz was due Dec. 28. That date came and went, and Saige stayed put.
Finally, in the early hours of Jan. 2, Muñoz went into labor and just a couple hours later Saige was born. Kunau and Muñoz met while working at the Yakutat Lodge in the small village about 200 miles northwest of Juneau, and they said Saige will be raised to love the outdoors.
“It’s a little fishing village,” Muñoz said. “You’ve got to really appreciate fish, the outdoor lifestyle and the subsistence lifestyle. It’s perfect for us. He’s a fishing guide and I went there because I love the outdoors. She’s going to grow up knowing this.”
Kunau chimed in from the other side of the hospital room.
“She’s a fishing guide in training,” he said.
Saige already has a leg up — being the first baby of the year for BRH (and Juneau as a whole), she got a few gifts. One of those gifts is a wooden boat that doubles as a baby rocker. Kunau and Muñoz were shocked when they heard Saige was the first baby of the year in Juneau, and were even more stunned when they saw the boat.
It’s a few feet long and wide enough to fit a baby and a slew of stuffed animals. Dr. Lindy Jones, who delivered babies for years at the hospital, made it. Jones is currently a doctor in the Emergency Room, but with his past connection to the obstetrics (OB) wing of the hospital and his interest in woodworking, he has made gifts the past couple years for the first baby of the year.
This one was from mahogany that had been laying around for around 30 years, OB Director Michelle Van Kirk said. She and others in the department were elated to see the craftsmanship be put to good use — and for it to go to a happy couple. Jones even personalized the back of it with Saige’s name.
When Muñoz heard they were getting a boat as a gift, she pictured something much smaller. Kunau, an avid fisherman, was also taken aback when hospital employees brought in the gift.
“When I saw that boat, I was like, ‘It was meant to be,’” Kunau said. “It looks just like my boat back home.”
Kunau and Muñoz left to go back to Yakutat on Saturday. They said they’ve wanted to get married for a long time, but haven’t been able to get both of their families together for a ceremony.
As they were packing everything up Friday afternoon, the two of them joked back and forth about Saige’s boat, as the 9-pound, 10-ounce future fishing guide lay quietly alongside her stuffed animals.
“She’s got her own little driftboat,” Muñoz said. “Her little driftboat is nicer than your Pavati.”
“I know,” Kunau said. “I might have to swap boats with her.”
• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.