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First baby of the year

Rylayn Rook was late and yet she was the first baby born on Whidbey Island in 2006.

She was due Dec. 31, but waited until 9:43 a.m. Monday, Jan. 2, to arrive at the Naval Hospital at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station in Oak Harbor.

Rylayn isn’t a Navy baby. Rylayn’s dad is in the U.S. Army.

Justin Rook is a specialist with the 864th Engineering Battalion “Pacemakers” and home from Afghanistan for her birth.

“She’s late but welcome,” Justin said.

Justin returns to Afghanistan Jan. 5.

“But it’s nothing dangerous,” the new dad said. “I’m building roads.”

Meantime, Annalisa Rook is staying with her mother in Freeland until her husband returns from overseas. The family will then move closer to Fort Lewis as Justin just re-enlisted with the Army.

When Annalisa went into labor early Monday morning, the Naval Hospital was certainly the nearest military hospital. The Army’s Madigan Hospital sits between Tacoma and Olympia.

While Rylayn took awhile to decide to enter the world, once she was ready it was a speedy delivery. Annalisa said she was only in labor three hours.

Rylayn weighed 8 pounds 2 ounces, and was 20 inches long when she was born. She has lots of shiny black hair and blue eyes.

Two-year-old Skyler Rook seemed happy with her new sister. She was especially fascinated with the baby’s eyes as the family got ready to leave the hospital Tuesday morning. She discovered her sister came equipped with the same open-and-close action of the eyes as her own baby doll.

Annalisa packed up the baby’s things while Justin was arranging another car seat next to Skyler’s for the familiar ride down the island. Annalisa grew up on South Whidbey Island, attending Langley schools since she was in second grade. Her mother is Susan Flister of Freeland.

Annalisa met Justin after he arrived from East Providence, Rhode Island. He had traveled with an aunt who was moving to the West Coast and then went to school for a while. Justin served in the National Guard for five years, the past two years as active duty in the Army. He spent the last nine months in Afghanistan and was allowed to come home to await the baby’s arrival.

“It’s going to be hard to leave, but I’ll be back in March,” Justin said.

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