When Umatilla County’s first baby breathed her first breath on New Year’s Day at St. Anthony Hospital, her father watched from thousands of miles away at his base in Iraq.

Mila Marie McDonough came into the world at 9:56 a.m., weighing six pounds, four ounces. Her mom, Brandi McDonough, held her daughter in her arms as Ryan McDonough watched from Brandi’s iPhone screen.

This is the first baby for the Hermiston couple. Brandi learned she was pregnant a week before Ryan deployed.

Ryan is with the Navy Seabees, the military’s elite construction unit. He was working when he got the word his wife had gone into labor just after midnight and had headed to the hospital about 4 a.m. He retired to his room at the base and launched a FaceTime session with Brandi. Part of the time, he used up nervous energy by folding laundry or saying comforting words to his wife. Neither knew whether the baby was a boy or girl.

“We didn’t know the gender,” Brandi said. “We wanted to find out together.”

Ryan will get to hold his baby girl in March or April when he arrives home.

A few hours later, on the other side of the county, a Boardman couple welcomed the first baby of the year in Hermiston, born at Good Shepherd Medical Center. Preslee Hope Barnes was born to Audrey Guenther and Bobby Barnes at 1:47 p.m., and weighed seven pounds, five ounces.

Preslee is the first child for the couple, and was born 10 days late. Her parents said they went through about 20 different names before settling on the one they both loved.

“I heard the name on the radio, there was a program where someone said that name,” Barnes said. “I suggested it to Audrey, and she liked it right away.”

The couple said they were hopeful that Preslee would arrive on her due date, but are now excited to have a New Year’s baby.

“It’s kind of rare to be able to say that,” he said. “I’m liking it.”

Both said they are looking forward to everything about parenthood.

“I’ve wanted to be a parent as long as I can remember, and I’ve always known I was going to have a girl — same with Audrey,” Barnes said.

The couple was also presented with a gift from Good Shepherd, a large basket which included clothes, blankets, books, and baby supplies.

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