Claire Tabuada and her husband, Jhamel thought they had more than a week to prepare for their baby’s birth so delivering B.C.’s first New Year’s baby of 2020 at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday was a surprise.
“We’re tired but we’re happy and excited,” said Claire, about 11 hours after an emergency C-section at Royal Columbian Hospital, as she cradled her daughter in her one and only outfit and answered questions from the media.
The Coquitlam couple have yet to settle on a name — they’re calling her “Clarita,” the pet name Jhamel has had for her since Claire was six weeks pregnant — and the newborn will remain in the natal intensive care unit for a few days because she was premature and weighs only 4 lbs., 10 oz.
As Clarita slept, Claire said the baby’s due date was Jan. 30 and she had a C-section scheduled for Jan. 9 but when her water broke, they dropped preparations for a New Year’s Eve party to get to the hospital.
“She had a planned C-section at 37 weeks but mom’s water broke when she was at 35 weeks and six days so she came to the hospital as she’s supposed to,” said Dr. Kathy Jones, who assisted at the birth.
While waiting for a turn in the operating room, Claire wasn’t thinking about having a New Year’s baby but was instead practising her faith.
Throughout the evening she took several breaks in the washroom “just to pray and (say), like, ‘Lord, guide me what to do.’”
Jones said hospital staff in a maternity ward are aware when it’s New Year’s Eve because “it is extra exciting” but they can’t time a delivery for after midnight because of factors out of their control.
“Everybody is just working at pace,” she said.
Claire’s C-section wasn’t “absolutely urgent” and it was 11:10 p.m. by the time she was brought into the operating room.
But she was bumped by a more urgent surgery and by the time she was taken back in and prepped, it was 11:55 p.m., said Jones.
She noted the time but thought, “It’s hard to know how this one is going to go.”
The C-section went relatively smoothly and Clarita was delivered at a minute past midnight, as captured by a nurse’s photo.
“Had that baby come out a little more efficiently, she might not have been the New Year’s baby,” said Jones.
But she said, “We were all rooting for them” to have the first 2020 baby.
The birth of the Tabuadas’ baby girl is made more joyful and poignant by the fact that the couple’s first child, Jaden, a boy, was delivered stillbirth at 37 weeks about two-and-a-half years ago, and the grief still causes Claire tears.
“Having this in our arms, it’s priceless,” she said. “She’s healthy, that’s all that matters.”
Claire, 39, is on maternity leave from her job at the deli counter at the Great Canadian SuperStore. Jhamel, 37, works as a painter at Coast Mountain Bus Co.
Health officials said they expect Claire and Clarita to go home in the next couple of days.
Clarita will share a Jan. 1 birthday with the first baby born on Vancouver Island at 12:17 a.m. It’s a boy, 8 lbs., 3 oz., born at Victoria General, according to Island Health. He and his family, who were not named, are from Sooke.
And in the Interior, Kelsey and Brian McCune of Kelowna welcomed a baby girl, weighing 5 lbs., 3 oz., at 6:02 a.m. at Kelowna General Hospital, Interior Health said in a tweet.