/Gelert newborn one of Minden’s first babies of the year
Oh, baby! Aran Kim Nair was born a week early, on Jan. 10, making him one of the first Haliburton County residents to be born in 2022. Welcoming him into the world are parents Jen Kim and Praveen Venugopal and the community of Gelert. For more on Aran’s arrival and the Midwifery Services of Haliburton-Bancroft, see Page 11. /Photo by Eleanor Dobbins

Gelert newborn one of Minden’s first babies of the year

By Sue Tiffin

First, Jennifer Kim and Praveen Venugopal were welcomed to the community, and then they welcomed little Aran Kim Nair. 

Aran was born on Jan. 10, making him the second Minden Hills resident born with the support of the Midwifery Services of Haliburton-Bancroft this month and one of the first babies of Haliburton County to be born in 2022. 

Aran was expected on Jan. 17, but arrived on Jan. 10 instead. 

“Right off the bat, I was told I would be late as a first-time mom, but he came out early,” laughed Kim. 

“My parents, her sister, they’re staying with us helping us out,” said Venugopal. “And for some reason, my mom had this mother’s intuition. She’s like, ‘yep, I feel like this is the week.’ [Jen’s] sister was visiting us from France … she was like, ‘I hope the baby comes this week so I get at least two weeks with my nephew!’”

“So maybe that helped to push it along,” laughed Kim. 

Kim laughs now that Aran is safely in her arms, but the day he was born is a bit of a blur.

“It was a little nerve-wracking,” she said. “I have never experienced something like this.” 

It all started on Sunday night, the 9th, said Kim. She had gone to bed but around 11 p.m. she felt she couldn’t sleep, when contractions began. 

“I was feeling tired,” she said. “I don’t know if I was ready for the contractions yet. I was more expecting Braxton-Hicks contractions but that did not happen, because I progressed very quickly.”

Venugopal said the pair thought contractions would start, and then more active labour would happen 24 hours or 48 hours later before they needed to go to the hospital.

“I was sleeping,” he laughed. “I was like, ‘yeah, it’s OK, she’ll be fine.’ At 1:30, she was standing up and couldn’t do much.” 

By 5 a.m., Kim was having contractions every five minutes and at 5:45 she called the midwives.

“She has a high tolerance for pain, but the way I saw her, I knew something was happening and was going to happen that day,” said Venugopal. 

While Kim was on the phone, Venugopal said he was packing snacks and water to go with their already-packed hospital bag, as well as sending 5 a.m. emails to his office.

At 7 a.m., they left for the hospital in Peterborough. 

“Oh, that was a blur,” laughed Kim. “It was an adventure that morning, but the drive was a blur.”

“This was something I was afraid of, always,” said Venugopal. “Was driving to Peterborough if there was a winter storm.”

While it usually takes him an hour and 15 minutes to drive from their home in Gelert to the hospital, white-out conditions delayed the journey and it took an extra half an hour to get there.

“The only thing I was just like, keeping my fingers crossed,” he said. “Like hopefully, Jen does not give birth in the car.”

Kim and Venugopal moved to the area from Toronto soon after the pandemic began.

“I was born and raised in downtown Toronto,” said Kim. “I’ve never lived in the country.”

“I very much love the outdoors,” said Venugopal. “I love camping, I love the neighbourhood. Jen, kudos to Jen, she’s never been north of Bloor Street … until she met me.”

“He always says that,” laughed Kim. “That I never lived until I met him.” 

Aran Kim Nair gets a snuggle in with parents Jen Kim and Praveen Venugopal a little over a week after his Jan. 10 Peterborough birth. Aran is Minden’s second baby of the year to be born with support of the Midwifery Services of Haliburton-Bancroft, and one of Haliburton County’s first babies of 2022./Photo by Eleanor Dobbins

Soon after the pandemic began in March 2020, the couple would drive to Algonquin Park for a hike or day trip. In May as the pandemic worsened in Ontario, restrictions involving large gatherings saw their reception cancelled. That’s when they began driving around on the weekend to check out open houses, deciding to invest the money they saved on their reception in a property away from the city with the newfound opportunity to work from home. 

“Our gut feeling was that the pandemic would last for a year or two at a minimum, so why not live outside of the city and see how we like it,” said Venugopal. “Both of us, we are city-bred, we never knew what to expect. Let’s just give it a shot, this is the best time you can give it a shot. You never know what the future holds.”

“And we jumped right into the deep end,” said Kim. “And we love it here. No regrets, definitely.”

“Definitely,” agrees Venugopal. “All the people we meet, people is what makes this place amazing. It’s just great, coming from the city where you live in an apartment and hardly know your neighbour. And here, folks are so friendly, so helpful. That’s probably the best thing I’ve encountered.”

That helpfulness extended to the moment Aran was born, when midwife Vanessa Taylor, as well as doctors and nurses in Peterborough, helped the two tend to him after his birth.

“I think the only challenge we had is that we couldn’t have family visits,” said Venugopal, speaking of the experience of a new baby at a time of pandemic. “In our cultures, my background is Indian, and hers being Korean, family is a huge part when a baby’s born, especially. You have your entire family at the hospital, a support structure, and this time around it was just me in the hospital. But to be honest, the medical professionals, they’re just so helpful. We didn’t feel like we were missing anything.”

“They took good care of us,” said Kim.

Kim gave a special shout-out to her sister Joanne and her in-laws, Venu and Chandrika, for their help and support at home. 

Aran Nair was born earlier this month, making him one of the first Haliburton County babies born in 2022. /Photo by Eleanor Dobbins

In 2021, the Midwifery Services of Haliburton-Bancroft welcomed 127 babies: 63 boys and 64 girls.

“Our busiest month was April, when we welcomed 17 babies, and the busiest day was June 30 when there were three babies born,” said Stephanie Simon, registered MSHB midwife, who was also the midwife that attended the most deliveries in the past year.

Of the babies born in 2021 under the care of the local midwives, 46 babies were born at home and 81 in the hospital. Fifty of the babies were born to first-time parents and 77 babies were born to families with at least one older sibling.

Six names were used twice: Rowan, Liam, Lily, Avery, Hannah and Dax.

“Based on our current care list, we’re on track to care for approximately 120 families again this year,” said Simon. “We have around 80 expecting parents registered with us for care so far and we are just starting to hear from the September 2022 families.” 

Earlier this month, the provincial government noted the top 10 baby names in Ontario for 2020. The top name for girls was Olivia, which has been in the top spot for 11 consecutive years. The top name for boys was Noah, for the second year in a row. This year, Isla, Theodore and Leo were also added to the list. The top 10 names for girls were: Olivia, Charlotte, Emma, Amelia, Sophia, Ava, Isla, Chloe, Evelyn and Mia. The top 10 names for boys were: Noah, Liam, Benjamin, Oliver, Jack, Lucas, Theodore, William, Ethan and Leo.

ServiceOntario’s 5-in-1 Newborn Bundle service was updated last fall, making it easier for parents to register a birth. The service allows parents to apply for their child’s birth certificate, Social Insurance Number, Canada Child Benefits (including the Ontario Child Benefit) and Education Savings Referral service through one application.