- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 1, 2005

Michelle and Wilmar Custodio yesterday celebrated New Year’s between labor contractions.

“We were like, ‘Oh, Happy New Year!’ and just kept pushing,” Mr. Custodio said, describing the birth of their son Joseph.

Born at 12:13 a.m. yesterday at Inova Alexandria Hospital, Joseph Christian Custodio was the region’s first baby of the new year, hospital officials said.

Joseph was born healthy, weighing in at 7 pounds, 1 ounce and measuring 18.5 inches long.

Mrs. Custodio, 25, went into labor on Friday night. She said having the first baby of 2005 was the last thing on her mind.

“It just started getting more and more painful,” she said at a hospital press conference yesterday. “I didn’t really care if it was New Year’s or Dec. 31. I just wanted him to be here and the pain to stop.”

Mr. Custodio, 27, and his mother-in-law, Bay Alignay, were in the delivery room for Joseph’s arrival, as more than a dozen relatives bided their time in the waiting room.

All of the Custodios’ family members — and more are expected today — are staying with the couple in their Springfield home. Joseph’s 3-year-old brother, Marc, will visit him at the hospital before the Custodios take him home today.

The couple named Joseph after Mr. Custodio’s grandmother, Josephine.

David Alignay, Mrs. Custodio’s father, said he was attending church on New Year’s Eve when he heard his daughter was in labor. The 52-year-old Army retiree said the entire family was thrilled about Joseph’s being born on Jan. 1.

“We were actually looking forward to having [Joseph’s birth] on New Year’s Day,” Mr. Alignay said. “We were excited about it.”

Area hospitals tend to have something of a competition for the year’s first baby, Inova spokeswoman Beth Vizioli said.

Miss Vizioli said she did not know how long it had been since Inova Alexandria delivered the region’s first baby, but the Custodios said someone told them it had been more than 10 years.

“The first baby of the year in the Inova system is almost always born at Inova Fairfax,” Miss Vizioli said. “They have 13,000 births a year. We have 3,000 a year.”

Hospital volunteers celebrated Joseph’s birth by knitting the newborn a special bonnet with a gold tassel on top, a gift given annually to the first baby born in the Inova Health System, which owns five Northern Virginia hospitals.

Mr. Custodio yesterday was eager to start a new family tradition.

“We have four more to go — four more New Year’s babies,” he said.

But Mrs. Custodio was slightly less enthusiastic. “We’ll see,” she said.

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