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First babies of new year arrive safe and sound

LAWRENCEVILLE - When the peach dropped, Matthew Watkins wanted to run up and down the halls of the hospital yelling "Happy New Year."

But the celebration had to wait until his first son was born about 2:30 a.m.

Benjamin Lee Watkins, whose middle name is the same as his father's, grandfather's and great-grandfather's, was the first to arrive in 2009 at Emory Eastside Medical Center in Snellville.

But he wasn't the first baby born this year in Gwinnett. That honor goes to the daughter of Sofia and Isauro Rayas. The 7-pound, 4-ounce girl, who the parents think they will name Ainsley, arrived at Gwinnett Medical Center at 1:31 a.m.

Sofia Rayas laughed when asked if her husband popped open champagne or lit a cigar to celebrate the new year and the new baby.

"He doesn't drink or smoke," she said.

Rayas, who has a 10-year-old son Jonathan, said her baby was due on Jan. 8, but she came to the hospital at about 1:30 a.m. New Year's Eve.

"They were going to send me home, but she decided to come," said Rayas, who put a pink bow in her baby's raven hair.

For the Watkins, Ben actually came a day later than he was due, just missing the deadline for a 2008 tax write-off.

But his mother Heather said she didn't mind the late arrival, although it did come after some last-minute complications.

"He wasn't progressing and midnight passed and we were sad," she said with a laugh, cradling her infant as his photo was taken. "(But) a January baby is good. He feels like a movie star now."

The 8-pound, 15-ounce boy joins sisters Hope, 11, and Isabella, 4.