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Snellville mom gives birth to first baby of '08

SNELLVILLE - At 11:45 p.m. Monday, when millions of people were gearing up to ring in the new year, Snellville resident Christina Varghese was going into labor.

At 2:51 a.m. Tuesday - two days before his due date - Christopher Varghese became the first baby born this year in Gwinnett County. He weighed 7 pounds, 8 ounces and was 21 inches long.

The infant slept in his mother's room at Emory Eastside Memorial Hospital as several relatives stopped by to greet the newest member of the family.

Christina and her husband, Cherian, said having a healthy baby makes it a happy new year, especially because there were complications during the birth. Christopher's heart stopped for about 15 minutes during the delivery, and the parents praised the work of Emory Eastside's medical staff.

The new year brings "an opportunity to share our happiness with others," Christina Varghese said.

Cherian Varghese said they chose a name for their son that is close to Christ. The father said he thinks Christopher, their third child, will be the last of the brood.

Dani Varghese, 11, said he's looking forward to teaching his baby brother how to play sports and how to read.

"I'm happy it's not all girls," he said.

The two boys have a 4-year-old sister, Tina, who sat quietly on her father's lap.

The first baby born this year at Gwinnett Medical Center also encountered complications.

Bethlehem resident Sarah Elizabeth Ivill said the umbilical cord was wrapped around her daughter's neck four times. Doctors said Hannah Elizabeth's small size - she was 5 pounds, 3 ounces and 181/2 inches long - helped save her life.

"I'm thankful that she's living," Ivill said. "I feel like she's my miracle baby."

Hannah was due Jan. 8, and Ivill said she never imagined her daughter would be born on New Year's Day. But the baby girl was born at 4:24 a.m. Tuesday, and Ivill said it was a great way to celebrate the new year.

"I can't think of a better way to start it than to have a little girl in my arms," she said.

Ivill said she and her husband, Eddie, named their daughter after the Biblical character and hope their daughter will be as much of a prayer warrior as the Hannah of the Old Testament.

"We give God the glory for her birth," Ivill said. "We think he gave her to us as a gift."

The Ivills also have a son, 2-year-old Caleb, who is glad to have a baby sister.

"He thinks it's really neat," Ivill said. "He loves her already."