Natalie and Brandon Harper of Strong welcome their daughter, Briar Mae, at Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington. She was the New Year’s baby, arriving early Sunday morning. “She’s very cute,” Natalie said. Franklin Memorial Hospital photo

FARMINGTON — Briar Mae Harper is Franklin Memorial Hospital’s first baby of 2022, arriving at 3:24 a.m. Sunday at the hospital.

Natalie and Brandon Harper of Strong welcomed their 7-pound, 15.2-ounce daughter, who joins her 3-year-old brother Declan.

In a phone interview from her hospital room, Natalie said she was “surprised” she delivered the hospital’s New Year’s baby.

“I did not think that (Briar Mae) would be the first one,” she said. She arrived 11 days earlier than expected.

Her mother said she “definitely looks more like Brandon” with his nose and chin but “she sleeps the same way I do with her hands under her cheeks.”

Natalie said that while she was pregnant, she had concerns of being near people who might be sick with COVID-19.

“It’s hard not to think like that,” Natalie said. “I also know people see babies and they want to immediately love on them. That’s gonna probably be hard to control.”

She said it’s also been “challenging” because Declan is not able to meet his little sister in the hospital due to COVID-19 restrictions. She expected to be discharged Tuesday morning and was excited for her children to meet.

Natalie said she hopes Briar Mae can enjoy life without the constraints of the pandemic.

“I hope it (gets more normal, balances) out over time,” she said. “I hope she gets to have a normal childhood with no masks in school and getting to play with other kids.”

The Harpers said they are touched by the generosity of Franklin Memorial Hospital and the overall Franklin County community.

Because Briar Mae is the hospital’s first baby of 2022, the hospital has donated a basket of items, including clothing, books, handmade hats, a plush stuffed giraffe and an infant spoon, Communications and Public Affairs Manager Jill Gray wrote in a statement.

The Alfond Scholarship Foundation has also offered Briar Mae a $500 grant toward her higher education.

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