EXCLUSIVE: Jessica Lynch Expecting a Baby Girl

10/13/2006 at 02:55 PM EDT

EXCLUSIVE: Jessica Lynch Expecting a Baby Girl
Jessica Lynch
Carmen Valdes/Retna
Former prisoner of war Jessica Lynch is tickled pink: Her first baby with beau Wes Robinson will be a girl, she tells PEOPLE exclusively.

"We are ecstatic it's a little girl," Lynch says, adding that she's eager to go shopping for tiny camouflage outfits for the infant, who is due in January.

The almost six-months pregnant Lynch, who says she's gained about 10 to 15 lbs. so far, learned the baby's gender about a month ago. Lynch, 23, and Robinson, 25, already have picked out a name for their daughter – but are keeping that a secret for now.

Baby's first ultrasound photos are "adorable," says Lynch. "She's a definite thumb-sucker and she loves to lay her head on her hands."

While she is continuing physical therapy for injuries she suffered in Iraq in March 2003 when her convey was ambushed and she was taken prisoner, she says she has gone off her pain medications because of the pregnancy.

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"I have to suck it up and take a little pain," says Lynch, who because of her back, leg and nerve injuries is considered a high-risk pregnancy. "Mostly it's nerve pain where the nerves are trying to re-grow, just weird tingling and pain sensations up and down my legs."

Several of her fellow soldiers were killed in the attack, but on April 1, 2003 Lynch became the first American POW to be rescued successfully since WWII. Still, she suffered extensive, injuries including fractures in her spine, a shattered arm, crushed foot and broken leg.

She plans to have the baby via C-section because doctors are worried the contractions and a natural delivery could put too much strain on her injured back. "I told them I'll take another scar, another surgery," Lynch says. "I'm kind of used to scars by now. One more isn't going to hurt. I just want to make sure it's – she's – healthy."

Robinson, who Lynch met through family friends, "will be a great dad," says Lynch. "He loves kids. He comes to all my appointments with me. I don't force him."

The pair have bought some land outside Elizabeth, W.Va., not far from where Lynch grew up, and plan to put a house on it. The couple don't have any immediate plans to get married.

As for life after the baby is born, Lynch says she'll likely take a semester off from West Virginia University, where she is studying to become a pre-K or elementary school teacher.

"We are trying to take things one step at a time," says Lynch. "I know it's kind of backwards but, you know, it's how things worked out. It really is just a blessing to find out I actually could have kids with my back and legs and nerve damage. It was really just exciting to know, oh wow, I can carry the baby and still go on with my regular life without having to be hurting too much. It's a blessing. It's going to be so much fun."

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