updated 01/19/2007 AT 7:00 PM ET
•originally published 01/19/2007 AT 8:00 PM ET
Former prisoner of war Jessica Lynch and her fiancé, Wes Robinson, welcomed a baby girl on Friday, PEOPLE has learned exclusively.
Dakota Ann weighed 7 lbs., 10 oz., and measured 19 inches long. “She is just fat and gorgeous,” says family spokeswoman Aly Goodwin Gregg. “Jessi was calling her a little porker. She already sucks her two fingers and she has wonderful chubby cheeks. Jessi is thrilled, absolutely thrilled.”
The baby, born at 5:10 p.m. at Camden Clark Memorial Hospital in Parkersburg, W.Va., is the first child for Lynch, 23, now a college student, and Robinson, 25, who works in a plastics manufacturing plant.
Dakota Ann is named after Lynch’s close friend Pfc. Lori Piestewa, one of 11 soldiers killed in March 2003 when their military convoy was attacked in Iraq. During the deadly ambush, Lynch was taken prisoner and suffered a fractured spine and crushed right foot. She was rescued on April 1 of that year.
“Dakota is a Native American word for friend or ally, and Ann was Lori’s middle name,” Gregg explains. “The name is in honor of Jessi’s friendship with Lori,” who was part Hopi and raised in Navajo country.
Before the birth, Lynch was “so excited and literally ready to pop,” Gregg says. “Her doctor has one of those high-resolution ultra-sounds and she was able to see the baby’s face. She said the baby has ‘the fattest, most chubby cheeks!’ ”
Until Friday, Lynch’s pregnancy had gone fairly smoothly, though doctors considered it high-risk due to her lasting back, leg and nerve injuries. She didn’t have any morning sickness and was able to continue her physical therapy, though she went off her pain medications and was put on bed rest after experiencing contractions in December.
Lynch was scheduled to have a C-section on Jan. 23, since doctors worried a natural delivery could put too much strain on her injured back. “I told them I’d take another scar, another surgery,” Lynch told PEOPLE in October. “I’m kind of used to scars by now. One more isn’t going to hurt. I just want to make sure she’s healthy.”
On Friday, however, Lynch woke up in some pain. At a routine doctor’s appointment, her physician decided it was time to deliver the baby. “It was just one of those things,” says Gregg. “This baby has a mind of her own. She’s a lot like her mother already.”