Maria “Rocio” Perales expected to ring in the New Year with family, homemade enchiladas, grapes and twelve wishes for 2014.
But plans changed when labor pains began on New Year’s Eve. Shortly after 7 p.m., Perales’ husband and three youngsters took her to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth.
A few hours later, at just 30 seconds after midnight, little Ella Elizabeth Mejia entered the world as the first baby born in Tarrant County in 2014.
“I have two boys and two girls now,” said the 28-year-old mother, speaking in Spanish. She said this is exactly how she pictured her complete family.
Ella weighed 7 pounds, 6 ounces and measured about 20½ inches long at birth. She was delivered naturally.
Ella’s parents, Perales and Jose Mejia, and her siblings live in Justin.
Perales beamed while Ella slept in her arms Wednesday shortly after noon. The baby was oblivious to the fact that she was making news in English and Spanish.
“I imagined she would be born in January, but not the first day,” Perales said, adding that the latest she expected the baby to be born was Jan. 4.
Even though Denton is closer to the Perales home, the family wanted the baby delivered at the Fort Worth hospital because two of their other children were born there too.
Ella’s three older siblings are Marcos, 6; Diego, 3; and Leslie, 1.
Perales said her sons dressed up on New Year’s Eve because they pondered the possibility of a New Year’s birth and wanted to look nice. By 5 p.m. Tuesday, Perales realized their guesses might become reality.
Perales nixed plans to make enchiladas. She didn’t get a chance to make 12 wishes tied to the eating of grapes, a Hispanic New Year’s tradition.
Ella’s siblings were expected to visit her for the first time Wednesday afternoon — a special visit as Marcos helped pick his little sister’s name.
Perales said Ella has opened her eyes at various times since birth.
“She was the only one of my four children who was crying at birth,” she said.
Perales said in the rush to leave the house Tuesday, they forgot the baby’s diaper bag. But that wasn’t a problem since postpartum nurses had a gift bag that included a New Year’s Day tiara, diapers, blankets, toys and portrait package.
Nurses said they were happy about little Ella.
“I love the baby,” said Kim Nguyen. “I’m very excited.”
A survey of area hospitals by the Star-Telegram indicated that Ella was the first baby born in 2014 in Tarrant County.
But two boys were delivered shortly after Ella at other area hospitals. Dominic Wesolowski was born at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth at 12:19 a.m. And in Mansfield, Shivam Sharma was born at 12:51 a.m. at Methodist Mansfield Medical Center.