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Atwater couples gift of God is Turlocks first birth of 2012
New Years baby
Yarely Contreras and Rogelio Rodriguez of Atwater hold their first child, Matthew Rodriguez, who was also the first baby born in Turlock in 2012. - photo by KRISTINA HACKER / The Journal

Yarely Contreras and Rogelio Rodriguez of Atwater rang in the New Year by welcoming their first child — and the first baby born in 2012 in Turlock.

Matthew Rodriguez was born at 6:48 a.m. on Sunday. He weighed in at 7 pounds, 8 ounces and was 20.7 inches long.

The New Year’s birth was somewhat of a surprise to the couple. Contreras’ due date was Dec. 29.

“I thought it was going to happen before, I was sure it would be Christmas,” she said.

But Christmas came and went without a contraction. The couple was celebrating New Year’s Eve at their house in Atwater on Saturday when Contreras’ labor pains began.

“We didn’t want to be (at the hospital) for New Year’s, so we waited until after 12, then hugged and came on in,” Contreras said.

She made it to Emanuel Medical Center by 12:30 a.m. on Sunday, and a mere six hours later, baby Matthew was born.

“It’s our first baby; I was really excited,” said proud father Rodriguez.

Contreras said they picked the name Matthew because it means “gift of God,” and that is exactly what they consider the arrival of their New Year’s baby.

To celebrate the first baby born in 2012 at Emanuel, the hospital gave Matthew a very special gift. Actually, it was more like a pile of gifts; everything from bottles to a teddy bear and a shopping cart cover — all stacked in a whale-sized bathtub and topped with bows and balloons.

Matthew was lonely in the Emanuel Medical Center nursery on Sunday afternoon. He was the only baby born over the weekend. The empty labor and delivery rooms was an uncommon site. According to Linda Teixeira at Emanuel Records, December saw a boom in births; 122 to be exact. The hospital averages closer to 109 births most months.

Those 122 babies born in December at Emanuel were just a few of the 312 million Americans of all ages who greeted the year 2012, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. A hundred years ago, the U.S. population was approaching 94 million — 50 years ago, it was nearing 184 million. The Census Bureau estimated that 7,200 new babies were on hand to welcome the New Year. 

To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.