For someone who just had a baby and is up every couple of hours nursing, Caitlyn Johnson doesn’t look tired.
Her strawberry blonde hair is shiny and clean, her skin glows, her smile is wide.
Perhaps it’s her attitude.
“Everyone tells you it’s going to be so hard,” Johnson said. “I keep thinking it’s going to be so fun.”
Weighing in at a small, but healthy 5.13 pounds, Iris June Johnson was born Feb. 19, just after 3 p.m. at Islands Hospital in Anacortes, making her the first baby of the year in San Juan County and her mom the winner of the Journal’s Annual Baby Derby.
“People kept mentioning it,” she said. “I thought, ‘there’s got to be a baby before me.'”
Born nine days past her due date, and nearly two months into the new year, Iris June is only the latest first baby of the year in the nearly 30 years since the Journal’s Baby Derby began.
And, there’s more at stake than just lifelong bragging rights. Caitlyn and Iris are recipients of the derby’s “Baby Booty” as well, gifts, prizes, and age-appropriate packages totaling more than $500 and donated by two dozen local retailers, merchants and businesses.
When it came to romance, Caitlyn never dated anyone who was interested in having kids, but always knew she wanted to be a mom.
A friend had recommended a sperm bank in Seattle, and this eventual mom-to-be thought long and hard about her decision. After a year of contemplation, Caitlyn, 34, decided she was ready.
When it was time to pick the sperm donor, the information was limitless. Height, weight, hair and eye color, occupation, religious beliefs, personality types. You name it, they had it. But Caitlyn tried not to get in too deep when it came to finding a partner for her egg.
She stuck with the basics and knew she wanted someone tall (she’s on the short side), with blue eyes. She also listened to a few audio interviews to help her get a feel for what traits might be passed on to her baby.
“If I thought I would be friends with this person, or I liked them as a person, I’d put them on the list,” she said.
She saved up money for a year and a half for the procedure, and tried for five months to get pregnant. Lucky for her and baby Iris, her egg was fertilized on the fifth try–just as the “baby money” she had saved ran out.
While careful at first who she told about her choice, Caitlyn found an entirely supportive community of friends and family. Her mom and sister came to the island to welcome the newest addition to the family, and her best friend was with her in the delivery room.
A 21st century woman if there ever was one.
“I never had any regrets from the day I decided to do it on my own,” she said. “I’m just excited to be a mom.”