Parents across Northern Ireland were celebrating the arrival of little bundles of joy as they rang in the New Year.
The first two births were baby girls, who made their grand entrances 12 days after their matching due dates of December 20.
Little Demi Somerville arrived at the Ulster Hospital just three minutes into 2013 to proud parents Neal and Cheryl, while Lucy arrived at the South West Acute Hospital in Fermanagh at a quarter past midnight to the delight of mum Denise Burke and dad Gordon Elliott.
Elsewhere the first arrivals at the province’s other hospitals included a boy at the Royal at 12.43am, another boy at Daisy Hill in Newry at 12.56am, a baby girl at Altnagelvin at 1.38am and another baby girl at 2.22am at Antrim Hospital.
Seven early morning newborns made an appearance at the Ulster Hospital in total while the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast welcomed four boys and one girl in the first hours of the new year.
Demi’s mum Cheryl said it had been a long wait to meet her first child, who weighed 7lbs 1.5ozs, but a very worthwhile one in the end.
Speaking to the News Letter while holding her new daughter in her arms Cheryl told of her joy. “Myself and my husband Neal are both over the moon,” she said. “She is my mum’s first granddaughter too and I suppose the fact she’s the first baby of the New Year here makes her extra special
“Although to us she would have been special anyway.”
The couple missed out on their annual family party to mark the New Year, but the 29-year-old said she wasn’t too disappointed. “I don’t think we’ll need to have any delayed New Year celebrations as this is the best way we could have brought in 2013.”
After a quiet Christmas of waiting and hoping the Bangor couple said they are looking forward to getting home to start their new life with their daughter.
Denise and Gordon from Letterbreen were delighted with their anniversary present as they also welcomed their first-born. The engaged couple marked their thirteenth year together on New Year’s Eve in the South West Acute Hospital, formerly known as the Erne Hospital.
Lucy was born at a quarter past midnight weighing 9lbs and 9oz.
Mum Denise, 31, said she was “just perfect”. “She has a massive head of dark hair just like me,” she laughed. “She’s been very quiet and content since she was born. She just likes to lie and look around her.”
Like Demi, Lucy made her parents wait for her arrival, having been due on December 20.
“She did make me wait alright, but I think she just wanted to make a grand entrance on New Year’s morning.
“Her dad is delighted. I suppose it’s still all a wee bit surreal at the minute.”
The new mum paid tribute to the staff at the hospital who she said could not have been more than helpful since she arrived there on Saturday.
“Everyone here has been absolutely brilliant which has really helped,” said Denise.