A bundle of boy: First Monterey County baby of new year arrives

  • January 1, 2017

By Tom Leyde, The Monterey Herald  |  January 1, 2017

Mariano Ruiz, left, leans in for a peek at his newborn son, Jonathan, being held by his mother, Maria Perez Gutierrez, on Sunday at Natividad Medical Center in Salinas. Jonathan was born at 2:26 a.m. and is the county’s first newborn of the year. (Vernon McKnight/Herald Correspondent)

Salinas >> He came into the world at 2:26 a.m. New Year’s Day.

Jonathan Gutierrez Ruiz was the first baby born in Monterey County in 2017.

His parents, Maria Perez Gutierrez and Mariano Ruiz, of Salinas, welcomed him at Natividad Medical Center. Both are immigrants from Oaxaca, Mexico, and both are farmworkers at Tanimura & Antle.

They speak only Chatino, a native language of Oaxaca, Mexico.

At noon Sunday, Maria craddled her newborn son in her arms in her hospital bed. Wearing a new baby hat and swaddled in a blanket, the baby’s tiny fingers curled around her little finger. Jonathan cooed and suckled on his fist. Both parents smiled with pride.

“They’re happy. They’re excited,” said Julieta Sanchez, a registered nurse in the mother-infant unit at Natividad. She acted as an interpreter for the parents.

Maria said through Sanchez that she wondered if Jonathan was the first baby born in Monterey County. When a nurse brought in a large basket of gifts for the baby from the hospital, she said she knew he was first and how exciting it was.

The parents wondered if their son also was the first baby born in California in 2017.

Natividad Medical Center has a gift basket for a girl and one for a boy handy when New Year’s arrives.

“We were waiting for a little girl to give her her basket of gifts,” Sanchez said. But Jonathan made his appearance, and the boy’s basket was presented to the parents.

Maria was due to give birth Saturday, so Jonathan arrived right on time.

Maria, 27, and Mariano, 23, met in Oaxaca. He came to the United States in 2010 and Maria came in 2014. She has a 7-year-old son in Mexico.

Mariano wore a medallion of the Virgin of Guadalupe on a string around his neck. “They’re good believers of the Virgin of Guadalupe,” Sanchez said.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, or the Virgin of Guadalupe, is the Roman Catholic title for the Blessed Virgin Mary. The image is enshrined in the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.

The first New Year’s baby in the county was born about three hours before the next baby was born. There were two babies born Sunday at Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula. The first one arrived at 5:35 a.m., a hospital spokeswoman said.

At Mee Memorial Hospital in King City and at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital in Salinas, no one had gone into labor as of 10 a.m. Sunday.

The tradition of the New Year’s Baby goes back to the dawn of the 20th century. The sweet cherub with his top hat and New Year’s sash was a staple in the Saturday Evening Post magazine. It stopped publishing humorous drawings of Baby New Year in 1943.

It’s not certain when hospitals and newspapers began honoring the first baby born in the new year.