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Ventura County

Baby a First for Navy Couple, County

Beginnings: The child clocks in at 12:52 a.m. New Year's Day in Oxnard. Her Seabee dad is on hand.

January 02, 2002|FRED ALVAREZ | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Steve Boyce nearly didn't make it home in time to welcome his daughter, Ventura County's first baby of 2002.

As a Seabee with the naval base at Port Hueneme, he had been stationed in Okinawa for most of his wife's pregnancy. And after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, there was a strong possibility that he and the rest of his construction battalion could be shipped to any number of trouble spots worldwide.

Luckily, orders came through that allowed him to return to Port Hueneme last month and be on hand Tuesday when Seryna Boyce--all 7 pounds, 11 ounces of her--decided to make her way into the world.

She arrived at 12:52 a.m. on New Year's Day at St. John's Regional Medical Center in Oxnard.

"When they told us she was the first baby of the year, we were pretty excited," said Boyce, 20, as the baby, wrapped in a blanket and crowned with a knitted beanie, lay sleeping in the arms of her mother, Arlene.

"I didn't know he was coming home," Arlene Boyce, 22, said about her husband. "He surprised me. But I knew he'd find a way."

The Port Hueneme couple, who met while working at a Riverside pizza joint and have been married for nearly two years, didn't set out to have the first baby of the year.

In fact, they were surprised to learn that Arlene was pregnant in May, just as Steve was preparing to leave for a seven-month tour of duty in Japan. Even then, Arlene Boyce wasn't due to deliver until today.

But when she went into labor Sunday night, she and her husband thought Seryna might arrive before the end of the year--an intriguing prospect because the tax write-off would have come in handy.

"We didn't get it," Arlene Boyce said of that benefit, "but we got a famous baby. We got better than that."

So begins a period of diaper changes, late-night feedings and bouts of teething. The first-time parents admit it will be a departure from the lives they have known.

Steve Boyce joined the Navy three years ago and plans to make it his career. Arlene Boyce worked as an assistant manager at an Oxnard jewelry store but often was able to join her husband for short periods while he was stationed outside the United States.

They have had plenty of friends and lots of good times.

Now the focus will be their two-bedroom house on the Navy base, where they have set up a nursery.

"It's going to be different, but it feels really good," said Arlene Boyce, who at least for the next 10 months is assured that her husband will stay in Port Hueneme and be able to help with the baby.

"There's just a whole new life ahead," she said. "It's going to be great."

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