The new year brings a whole host of new: calendars, resolutions, hopes for spring, gym memberships. This one even brought a new decade, but for Valley Stream couple Tami Hall and Bernard Nichols, it offered something much more special: At 12:03 a.m. on Jan. 1, their son Bernard Kasey Hall Nichols III came into the world as the first baby born on Long Island in 2020.
“It was definitely the best present,” Hall said of her son, who is now the younger brother to the couple’s 4-year-old, Kaiden. As with many new births, she said, it brought a range of emotions, including excitement, nervousness and anxiety. “It’s a change,” she said.
The family had been preparing to go to a New Year’s Eve party, Hall recounted, but that did not go as planned. She was already past her Dec. 30 due date, and early on New Year’s Eve she went to the doctor, who told her, “Come back Friday.”
By that afternoon, however, her cramps and contractions had become more severe, and Hall thought, “I’m not going to last until Friday.” At around 9 p.m. she called her midwife, who was also preparing to go to a New Year’s Eve party, to tell her that she was heading to the hospital.
At that point her contractions were about seven minutes apart, and she was in pain, Hall recalled, and she, Nichols and Kaiden headed to Mount Sinai South Nassau in Oceanside. When she got there, she was in labor, she said, “and from there it just progressed quickly.”
“Mentally I thought I was prepared,” Hall said, “but once everything started happening, it was like my body was in shock.”
The nursing staff there was excited, she recalled, but it was unclear whether her son would come before or after midnight. “We always look forward to a New Year’s baby,” said Cecilia Carey, assistant nurse manager for Women and Children Services at Mount Sinai South Nassau. “It’s very exciting.”
Delivering the first baby of the New Year is a tradition for her staff, she said, which oversees roughly 2,000 deliveries a year, averaging around 175 a month, but in the lead-up to Dec. 31, there didn’t appear to be any candidates.
“We had women in early labor, but nobody that we felt would be ready to deliver,” she said, but then in came Hall.
In her 25 years working at Mount Sinai South Nassau, formerly called South Nassau Communities Hospital, Carey said, delivering the first baby on all of Long Island for the year was “huge.”
“Many of us can’t remember when that last happened,” she said.
As per tradition, the nursing staff waits until things settle down for a few hours and then gives the family of the first baby of the year a gift basket of items for new mothers.
Hall, in particular, thanked the doctors at Gentle Care OB/GYN for their help throughout the pregnancy and delivery. “They went out of their way for us,” she said.
After the birth, Kaiden, not fully aware of what was happening, asked whether they would still be going to their family’s New Year’s Eve party, but was crestfallen when his mother laughed and told him no.