Farmington’s first baby of 2022 arrived on Sunday, Jan 2. Natalie and Brandon Harper, of Strong, welcomed Briar Mae, a 7 pound, 15.2 ounce baby girl into the world. “She’s very cute,” Natalie said. Photo courtesy of Franklin Memorial Hospital

FARMINGTON — Farmington’s first baby of 2022 was born at 3:24 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 2, at Franklin Memorial Hospital.

Natalie and Brandon Harper, of Strong, welcomed Briar Mae, a 7 pound, 15.2 ounce baby girl into the world. Briar Mae is the Harpers’ second child — the little sister of three-year-old Declan.

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

“I did not think that [Briar Mae] would be the first one,” Natalie said. Natalie’s due date was in January, which meant she and Brandon considered it a possibility that Briar would be Farmington’s first baby. However, she said that Briar Mae came 11 days early, so it was mostly unexpected.

Nevertheless, Natalie said it’s still “exciting” that Briar Mae is the New Years’ baby of 2022.

She is also excited to now have “one of each — a boy and a girl.”


Natalie said that baby Briar “definitely looks more like Brandon.”

“It’s nice to see she’s got his nose and his chin,” Natalie said.

However, Briar Mae is not all Brandon.

“She sleeps the same way I do with her hands under her cheeks,” Natalie quickly noticed.

Natalie also shared concerns about the difficulties of what it means to bring a new child into the world amidst the pandemic.

She said that there were, of course, concerns when someone would cough or sneeze near her while she was pregnant.


“It’s hard not to think like that,” Natalie said. Though she and Brandon weren’t “worried,” you can’t help wanting to avoid people who are possibly sick near you, she said.

“I also know people see babies and they want to immediately love on them,” Natalie added. “That’s gonna probably be hard to control.”

She said it’s also been “challenging” because Declan is not able to come visit and meet his little sister in the hospital due to COVID-19 restrictions. Nevertheless, Natalie expected to be discharged Tuesday morning and was excited for her two children to meet. And the lack of visitors is, in some ways, “a more relaxing experience,” she said.

Through it all, Natalie hopes that Briar Mae can “enjoy” life without the constraints of the pandemic.

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

The Harpers have also been 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, FMH has donated “a basket full of items” that includes “clothing, books, handmade hats, a plush stuffed giraffe [and] an infant spoon,” Communications & Public Affairs Manager Jill Gray wrote in a statement. Natalie added that the hospital gave her family “a beautiful handmade purple blanket.”

The Alfond Scholarship Foundation has also offered Briar Mae a $500 grant (provided to every baby born a Maine resident) for her future higher-education endeavors.

In addition, the Strong community has always rallied behind her family, Natalie added.

Natalie said “it’s awesome” to be supported by the community in this way.

Finally, Natalie answered the question on everyone’s mind: “she’s very cute.”

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