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Years first baby delayed a bit by pizza
Zunigas celebrate healthy son born Saturday morning at Medical Center
Maria Louisa Zuniga holds her newborn son, Alexander Christopher, on Saturday afternoon at Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville. The baby was the first born in 2011 at the hospital.

Salvador Zuniga wasn't thinking about the time when he and his wife drove to the hospital around 9:30 p.m. Friday.

They'd just eaten a late pizza dinner and planned to suffer through Maria Louisa Zuniga's initial labor contractions at home as long as possible.

But her pain, sporadic for most of the day, intensified as the evening hours passed.

"We wanted to wait," he said. "After awhile we decided to come in and see what was going on."

When the couple arrived to Northeast Georgia Medical Center, doctors were prepared to deliver the couple's baby by C-section right away, Salvador Zuniga said. But they decided to hold off until morning.

That late pizza meal interfered with medical procedure.

"It was too close," he said. "They had to wait."

The happenstance led to the Zunigas giving birth to Gainesville's first baby of 2011 at 8:12 a.m. Saturday. The distinction is especially something since baby Alexander Christopher was not scheduled to arrive until Jan. 23.

"You're worried about the baby and the mother," Salvador Zuniga said. "Inside of me, I felt everything was fine. You always hope for the best."

He nodded that the best happened Saturday as he glanced to his recovering wife, who held their healthy 6-pound son in a blanket bundle close to her chest.

Surrounding their bedside were dozens more bundles, gifts from area businesses and hospital groups choosing to celebrate New Year's with their own deliveries to 2011's first born. The presents included a host of child safety items, toys and book , a savings bond, new baby shoes, photo package and, of course, a case a diapers.

The useful items offered the couple a fresh reminder of what it's like caring for a newborn again, something the Zunigas have not experienced in some time, they said smiling. Their other children, both boys, are Salvador Jr., 17, and Cristian, 14.

"They're excited. I'm going to get them later," their father said, adding, "We appreciate all the gifts from everybody."

Typically, there is an increase in births in the weeks leading up to Christmas, said Denni Savage, who is weekend charge nurse of the hospital's mother/baby unit. While last week seemed to be busier than usual, Saturday belonged to Alexander for most of the day.

"This is the only baby that's been born today," Savage said, standing at the foot of the mother's bed around 1:30 p.m. "And I haven't heard of any (who are close to being born)."

While Savage's tired patient looked to her husband to answer most of the questions related to their baby's birth, she did speak about labor, and its reward.

Did you forget how painful childbirth was?

"Sí!" she said, wincing. "It hurt so much."

Yet, somehow the bad disappeared in one beautiful January first minute.

"I'll love this day forever," Maria Zuniga said.