On New Year’s Eve, Aileen Pena watched the ball drop in Times Square on a TV in her hospital room at Abington Hospital-Jefferson Health, counting down to the new year between contractions.
Two hours later, a 5-pound, 12-ounce boy was delivered. Her first child, Ayden Le, and the hospital’s first baby born in 2020.
Pena, 25, of Northeast Philadelphia, was due Jan. 14, but when she went in for an 8:30 a.m. checkup on Tuesday with the boy’s father, Andy Le, her doctors decided to admit her. She was induced at 1:30 p.m. and went into labor around 10.
“I was kind of in shock,” said Pena, who works at a chiropractor’s office in Mayfair. “I didn’t think he would come this early.”
Pena, who declined an epidural, said she was exhausted after the four-hour delivery but was excited for her new role in the upcoming decade: “You know,” she said, “motherhood.”
In maternity wards around the region, similar stories played out as the country celebrated the birth of a new year.
According to an informal survey, dozens more babies were born in hospitals throughout Philadelphia and its suburbs on New Year’s Day. Between midnight and 5 a.m., Pennsylvania Hospital and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania counted a total of nine births, and Einstein Medical Centers in Philadelphia and Montgomery County counted six, the first at 12:10 a.m. Temple University Hospital counted only one.
But it appeared that a baby in Burlington County might have beaten them all. Arriving just two minutes after midnight at the Virtua Memorial Hospital in Mount Holly was baby Lucian, a 7-pound, 1-ounce reason to toast Champagne-filled glasses for parents Kuulei and Dakotah of Pemberton.
Closer to Philadelphia, it was nearly two hours after baby Le was born that 7-pound, 3-ounce Robert Jay Wise made his debut at Abington Hospital, the first son of Oreland residents Lauren and Robert, who already have three daughters.
Pena said that while she and Le were not expecting a New Year’s Day baby, they had begun to embrace it by the end of the holiday because they believed it would set their son apart from his soon-to-be-born peers.
“We’re blessed,” she said. “He’s unique.”