On New Year’s Eve, Alyssa Reyes’ 6-year-old daughter, Aaliyah, wanted to stay up until midnight.

As the hour neared the new year, the two sat in the living room watching TV, Aaliyah winding down with snacks, when Reyes, 39 weeks pregnant, noticed something: her contractions had started to get stronger.

About four hours later, she and her partner, Alex Ramirez, headed to the hospital — they were pretty sure the new baby was coming that day.

At 8:36 a.m. Reyes and Ramirez would welcome their daughter, Aaniyah Azlin Ramirez, to the world. At 19 inches and 6 pounds, 10 ounces, she was the first baby born at St. Catherine Hospital in 2019.

But, she almost wasn’t. About an hour after Reyes came into the hospital, a nurse told her another woman had also arrived at the hospital in labor. It would be a competition, the nurse told her. Aaniyah Azlin came about six days earlier than expected, Reyes said. In the moment, and in the pain, she said she mostly just wanted to make sure her baby came out quickly and safely.

Regardless, for the two Garden City-native parents, bringing forward the first baby of the year was a welcome experience, Reyes said. The other baby, it turns out, would not come until the afternoon.

“We weren’t expecting it but it’s a nice surprise that she’ll be known as the 2019 New Year’s baby…” Reyes said. “You always hear about New Year’s babies here in town and wait to see who it is, and so now that it’s us, it’s kind of cool.”

The early morning birth wasn’t without complications. Ramirez woke up with a sprained leg on New Year’s Eve and stopped by the emergency room after bringing Reyes to the hospital. Reyes said he stepped out for a smoke and came back with a wheelchair and crutches.

The small bumps in the road that night came at the end of a hectic year planning and preparing for the new baby, Reyes said. She said she felt like she had been pregnant the whole year, and now, finally, their daughter was here.

“It does feel new and different,” Reyes said. “After having her, since it’s been so long, everything is so new. It kind of feels like a dream.”

Part of the preparation process has been warming up their older daughter to the idea of no longer being an only child, Reyes said. Aaliyah was excited about having a sibling, about having a sister, especially, and Reyes hoped the transition would be easy. The 6-year-old had met her sister that morning, nervous that she was so small and fragile, Reyes said.

When they finally get home, Reyes thinks the new big sister will be eager to help and be involved with the new baby. She hopes the bond is OK and that Aaliyah doesn’t feel like she’s losing attention. So far, it seems all is well.

“She was excited about it,” Reyes said about her older daughter’s reaction to the New Year’s birth. “She kind of thought it would make her sister a little famous.”


Contact Amber Friend at afriend@gctelegram.com.