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OJAI : Laboring Moms Push for Title of 1st Baby in ’95

Screams of “Push!, Push!,” emanated from separate rooms at Ojai Valley Community Hospital early Sunday as two couples scrambled to deliver the first baby of the new year in Ventura County.

Jack and Mariella Kenton of Mira Monte won the friendly competition, when Hunter Jacob Kenton drew his first breath at 12:36 a.m.

Twelve minutes later, Glorea Leighty gave birth to her fourth child, John Joseph Leighty, in a room two doors down.

“They were yelling ‘Push, Push’ in the other room and my mother said we’d better hurry up,” said Jack Kenton, who said his mother had 10 children but had never before witnessed a birth. “It was kind of a race.”

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By noon Monday, Kenton had recovered from the birth of her second son.

“We were hoping to have a New Year’s baby,” she said, hugging the child close to her chest. “My husband wanted to be the first in the county and he got it.”

John Leighty was tending bar at a private party about 9:30 p.m. Saturday when he got a telephone call from his wife. Minutes later he was accompanying her to the hospital.

“We were racing in the ambulance and I was yelling ‘hurry up, hurry up,’ ” he said. “We needed the exemption.”

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But John Jr., the couple’s fourth child, arrived 48 minutes too late for Leighty to deduct him on his 1994 tax return.

Donna Hunt, a registered nurse at Ojai Valley Community Hospital, said about 200 babies are born each year at the medical center.

“We like to think this is the best place in the world to deliver,” she said. “So it’s kind of nice to have the first baby in the county.”


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