Parents Christian Carter and Leah Swearingen pose with Whidbey’s first baby of 2020, Eli Cassius Carter, on Jan. 8 in Friday Harbor. Photo provided by Leah Swearingen

Parents Christian Carter and Leah Swearingen pose with Whidbey’s first baby of 2020, Eli Cassius Carter, on Jan. 8 in Friday Harbor. Photo provided by Leah Swearingen

Off-island couple have first baby to be born on Whidbey in 2020

Whidbey Island’s first baby of the new year was born to parents from a different island.

Leah Swearingen and her husband Christian Carter, both residents of Friday Harbor, welcomed their baby boy a mere two hours into the new year at the Greenbank Birth Center.

Around 2:30 a.m. on Jan. 1, Eli Cassius Carter made his first appearance into the world, weighing 7 pounds, 7 ounces and measuring 20 and a half inches long.

“He shot out of my body like a rocket,” Swearingen said with a laugh.

The couple from San Juan Island had chosen the Greenbank Birth Center, rather than a hospital, citing its highly recommended midwives.

“Part of the appeal of the birth center is that it’s like a beautiful cabin in the woods on Whidbey Island, which is kind of a romantic place to give birth,” Swearingen said.

Swearingen said midwife Cynthia Jaffe helped her to have a spectacular birthing experience and stuck with her the whole time.

While visiting Whidbey Island, the couple stayed in Coupeville, marveled at the size of Langley’s feral domesticated rabbit population and spent hours walking around Oak Harbor to encourage labor.

“The weather was terrible and everyone kept telling me to walk,” Swearingen said, “so we walked around in Walmart for five hours.”

Eli is the couple’s first child, arriving after 24 hours of labor. Although his due date was Dec. 27, Swearingen is glad he “made it over the hump” and avoided the fate of being a Christmas baby.

“I thought he was going to be born in 2019, but I’m kind of grateful because he scored a really cool birthday,” she said.