First baby of year is nothing new for dad, but is 'miracle'

Thirty years after the birth of his daughter, Ken White again becomes the father of the first baby of the year.



Ken White and Alisa Portley-White welcome their "miracle" baby, Tharon, as Walla Walla's first baby of the New Year. There were several "coincidences" that point to a miracle, the parents say, of the baby born Friday and Providence St. Mary Medical Center.


Newborn Tharon Joseph White, son of Ken White and Alisa Portley-White, sleeps in his mother's arms.

WALLA WALLA — Twice in a lifetime and twice in two years, the first New Year's baby for the region has been born to parents who have twice experienced having children born on the first day of the year.

Last year, Carmela Villagomez-Martinez and her husband, Javier, had the region's first baby on Jan. 1, 2009, at 11:38 a.m. at Providence St. Mary Medical Center. The birth of Jeovani was the mother's second New Year's Day birth; she also had their third child born the same day in 1997, though the older child was not the first for that year.

In Ken White's case, it was first all over again.

At 7:26 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2010, Tharon Joseph White was born to parents Ken and Alisa Portley-White at Providence St. Mary Medical Center.

It was the second time in as many years that the hospital has had parents with two children born on New Year's Day. And it was the second time in 30 years that Ken White was the father of the first child born in the Valley for the year.

"It is a blessing from God," White said about his second first. He then he went on to describe other notable coincidences he felt strongly indicated divine providence in what he believes is a miracle birth.

"It was kind of weird, after having my daughter born on this day 30 years ago. It was. You know the weather was the same way (icy conditions)," White said, noting back then he made the drive over from Pendleton as a 22-year-old fresh out of the U.S. Army.

"I had no job and no insurance, and I was scared. And I am scared now because I am 52 years old, and I want to be here to see him grow up to be a man," he added.

The hospital where his daughter, Amy Jeanne, was born on Jan. 1, 1980, was then known as St. Mary Community Hospital. At 11:18 a.m. his then-wife, Susan, gave birth to a 6-pound girl, the first of the year. And like her future baby brother, Amy also came early.

"To be a dad is an amazing feeling. And to be a dad the third time, in the same situation, on the same day. The second time is amazing," he said.

While Tharon is the third child for White, the New Year's Day baby is the first child for his mother, Alisa Portley-White.

And as far as father and mother are concerned, Tharon is a miracle child because Alisa was supposed to be barren after complications with a surgery on June 20, 2007.

That date is one of two coincidences that has the parents saying God had to be working a miracle.

"My pastor said God is laughing at us, and said we should have named him Isaac," Ken said.

"I had been told by a doctor if you are not pregnant between six months and a year, that you are not going to be getting pregnant," Alisa added.

Nine hours after a C-section delivery, the tired sounding mother explained how after the second year passed, it became apparent she would not be getting pregnant.

But on June 20, 2009, exactly two years after the operation that left her supposedly barren, she knew it was time to run a test. It turned out positive, which she added was much needed good news.

For the past five months, she had been mourning the death of her mother, who died on Jan. 24, 2009. That date would prove to be another one of those coincidences.

"My mom and I were so close. And after a while you become numb to the loss and you go on," she said.

As couples often do when they first get the news of being pregnant, Ken and Alisa thought back to when it happened and calculated forward to when it would happen. And with the use of a pregnancy wheel, it was determined their child would be born Jan. 24, 2010, the same day Alisa's mother, Sharon, died.

"She probably knew I was going through depression and she needed to do something for me to change that direction," Alisa said.

Since they had a boy, the couple decided to replace the "S" in Sharon with a "T," thus almost naming him after Alisa's mother.

The couple is certain Tharon is a miracle baby. And to confirm this, the mother noted that after the C-section birth, her doctor commented that this would be Alisa's last pregnancy.

"After the C-section today (Friday), I was going to have a tubal. And the doctor said it (another pregnancy) probably won't happened because of the scarring tissue and adhesions and said it was probably a miracle that we got pregnant," she said.

A miracle?


A rare occurrence?

Just ask the father who is holding his second first baby of the year.

"My wife wasn't supposed to be able to have any children. There were so many blessings considering this ... His hair is black; he is beautiful, he said.

"To be a father, it brings tears."

Alfred Diaz can be reached at or 526-8335.


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