First new dear of the new year |

First new dear of the new year

Carrie Click

Wheatley James Nieslanik is headed for a lifetime of very special birthdays.

The adorable little newborn, weighing in at 9 pounds, 4 ounces, was the first baby born in 2003 at Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs.

“Just imagine,” mom Joetta Nieslanik, 29, of Glenwood Springs said. “He’ll forever be ringing in his birthdays and New Year’s at the same time!”

Wheatley arrived at 2:42 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 1.

“It was quick and easy,” said proud papa Eric Nieslanik, 31, a member of the Nieslanik clan, a large ranching family who homesteaded the Roaring Fork Valley during the last century.

“Well, I probably shouldn’t say `easy,’ but it was quick!” he added.

Eric, a teacher and coach at Roaring Fork High School, was visiting Joetta and Wheatley on Thursday afternoon at Valley View’s Family Birthplace. Eric’s sister, “Auntie” Sandy, sat nearby holding little Wheatley, who was wrapped up in a baby blanket, sleeping and cooing.

Joetta sat on a hospital bed in her pajamas, surrounded by flowers, cards and baby gifts.

The Nieslaniks feel right at home at the hospital’s Family Birthplace. Joetta works two days a week as the unit secretary there, though she’ll take time off to tend to the new member of the family until the first part of March.

Joetta said Wheatley’s sisters, Avery, 2 and a half, and Logan, 18 months, are excited to welcome their new brother to the family.

“Avery only refers to Wheatley as her `baby brother,'” said Joetta with a smile. “He’s not the new baby, he’s Avery’s baby brother.”

Although she knew Wheatley’s arrival was imminent, she never imagined he’d make Jan. 1 his birthday.

“My due date wasn’t until Jan. 6,” Joetta said, “though we kept thinking Wheatley would arrive around Christmas. We never expected he’d be the first baby of the new year.”

Joetta started contractions at around 11:45 a.m. on Wednesday, New Year’s Day, at the family’s Glenwood Springs home, but didn’t think much of it at first.

“I wasn’t thinking about Jan. 1,” she said, “I just felt really hungry!”

When the contractions persisted, she decided she and Eric better head to the hospital. She delivered Wheatley soon after.

“I had 18 hours of labor with one of my girls, and just two hours with the other,” Joetta said. “Eric was great with Wheatley’s delivery. He was so sweet.”

Joetta and Eric credit Dr. Shelley Binkley and Joetta’s nurse, Andrea Mitchell, with “wonderful care.” They also credit nurses Lanea Orgill and Carol Bagen for help in the delivery.

Because of Wheatley’s New Year’s baby status, the family received some extra-special perks.

Wheatley’s parents were treated to a champagne dinner on Thursday – complete with steak and shrimp – to celebrate the baby’s arrival, and Wal-Mart donated a Beatrix Potter Peter Rabbit stroller.

Valley View staff put together a basket filled with baby shampoo, candy, toys, onesies, blankets, a knitted hat for baby, pajamas for Mom and, in honor of Dad’s baseball coaching status, a baby’s first baseball.

And Valley View infant care specialist Sheri Tonozzi will give the baby an infant massage once he reaches 6 weeks of age – and will teach Eric and Joetta how to give their baby massages, too.

Native Roaring Fork resident Eric and Joetta, originally from Kremmling, met while attending the University of Northern Colorado at Greeley. After college, they moved to Glenwood Springs, and married in 1998.

Joetta was surprised Wheatley was born on New Year’s Day. Neither she or Eric expected it, even though one of their daughters also picked a holiday birthdate.

“She was born on April 1,” said Joetta with a laugh, “but that’s a whole other story!”

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