At precisely 12:10 a.m., Kelsy Janel Reyes became the first child born in a Long Island hospital in 2024, beating the competition by just one minute. NewsdayTV's Virginia Huie reports. Credit: Elizabeth Sagarin

After more than 10 hours in labor, Dora Lilian Mendez Henriquez began to lose track of just how close to midnight it was.

Then between the breathing and pushing, she heard the delivery room staff at South Shore University Hospital in Bay Shore start a countdown.

“10 … 9 … 8 ….”

Ten minutes later, Henriquez’s baby girl, Kelsy Janel Reyes, had arrived. At precisely 12:10 a.m., Kelsy was the first child born in a Long Island hospital in 2024 by just one minute.

“We didn’t know if it would be 2023 or 2024,” said dad Rudy Reyes, adding that the couple was told the baby would probably arrive sometime between Dec. 31 and Jan. 2.

Kelsy Janel Reyes was born at South Shore University Hospital...

Kelsy Janel Reyes was born at South Shore University Hospital in Bay Shore at 12:10 a.m. on New Year's Day. Credit: Elizabeth Sagarin

It wasn’t until the staff yelled “Happy New Year,” and the couple sensed the baby was almost here, that reality set in.

“The first baby of the year. It’s awesome,” Reyes told Newsday from the hospital room as Henriquez, 23, held a 14-hour-old Kelsy.

Kelsy is Henriquez's first child. Reyes, 33, has a 14-year-old daughter, Breanna, from a previous relationship. Natives of El Salvador, the family lives in Central Islip.

Giving birth to “Baby New Year” can be a whirlwind experience. The couple joked that Kelsy was instantly “famous” as newspaper and hospital photographers snapped pictures on her first day.

Having finally gotten some rest, Henriquez explained what it was like to hold her healthy, 6-pound, 12-ounce child for the first time.

“I was excited, emotional,” the new mom said. “Just so happy.”

The first two Long Island babies of the year were both born at Northwell Health hospitals one minute apart, as the first Nassau County baby arrived at 12:11 a.m. at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, spokespersons for each hospital confirmed Monday morning.

For some maternity staffs, like at NYU Langone Hospital-Long Island in Mineola and Mount Sinai South Nassau in Oceanside, the wait for the first baby of 2024 lasted until nearly 5 a.m.

For midwife Kathleen Sharrott CNM, and registered nurse Catherine Leonard, the wait to deliver the first baby of the new year at Stony Brook University Hospital ended at 2:09 a.m., when they welcomed Theo Everest Costa into the world, the hospital confirmed.

Theo, who is Alicia DelliPizzi and Daryl Costa's third child, came in at 8 pounds, 12 ounces.

Through a hospital spokesperson, the proud parents, who live in Medford, gave a statement with a message for their new baby.

"This New Year surpasses all others because we're stepping into it with you in our arms."

Correction: NYU Langone Hospital-Long Island is in Mineola. An earlier version of this story had an incorrect location.

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