Toronto’s New Year was ushered in with tears, cries of joy and probably some actual crying, with the arrival of two brand new babies just moments after the fireworks burst across Nathan Phillips Square.
Scarborough Health Network proudly tweeted Tuesday morning that their general hospital had welcomed a baby girl, Fatima Al-Ameri, “at the stroke of midnight” and posted a photo of mom and baby, with loving relatives standing on either side.
Minutes after she arrived Sebastian Antonio Forno made his grand entrance, landing in the arms of health-care professionals and family at Sunnybrook Hospital at 12:02:56 a.m. and weighing in at just over eight pounds, a hospital spokesperson confirmed.
The Star had time to speak with Forno’s parents earlier today. Fatima and her family, as is to be expected, have been inundated with press attention and the Star has an appointment to tiptoe into their hospital room later this afternoon.
What is known at present is that she weighs just six pounds and three ounces and came into the world at just eight seconds after midnight, well ahead of her original due date of Jan. 6.
Sebastian was not expected to arrive so soon, either. His parents, Rachel and Riccardo Forno, had been given a due date of Jan. 17. They had even been thinking about heading to a New Year’s Eve house party at their friend’s place; orders for Chinese food had already been placed.
But around 4 a.m. on Dec. 31, Rachel woke up with unexpected bleeding and the couple rushed to the hospital.
“I kept up warning my friends the days leading up that I was 50-50, they put in an order for food,” Riccardo said. “Then the morning came and I said ‘I don’t think we’re going to make it.”
“It wasn’t a bad excuse at all.”
Riccardo said his wife started pushing around 11:45 p.m. He said they knew they were close to midnight, but during the process, their baby being born into the new year wasn’t exactly the first thing on their minds.
“It’s pretty special moment,” Riccardo said. “I don’t (think) either the 31st or 1st for us is going to be the same going forward, just with the things (that) happened — every New Year’s Eve, every New Year’s Day is going to be pretty special.”
While the couple’s New Year’s Eve plans were put on hold, their family dropped in throughout the day. Riccardo said his in-laws stayed at home with their 21-month-old son Gabriel, who was set to drop in later in the day to meet his new brother.
“When he sees the baby, he’s going to probably be confused, until we bring him home and he sees the baby every day,” Riccardo said. “That’s when he’s going to understand that Sebastian’s part of the family.”
Gabriel isn’t the only one excited about the New Year’s baby. Riccardo said their friends were pushing for a January birth date.
“There’s this myth that babies born in January are better at sports more than babies born any other time of the year,” he said. “They were pushing for this boy to be born in January so he has a better shot at getting in the NHL or becoming a professional soccer player.”
The “relative age effect” describes a trend of higher participation in academic or sporting activities with those born earlier in the year. Riccardo said his friends learned about it from Malcolm Gladwell’s popular book Outliers, where the author applies the theory to Canadian hockey players.
Riccardo said he wouldn’t mind if it was true. For now though, he’s focused on getting both his sons in the same room.
“I haven’t seen (Gabriel) for a day so you have this weird kind of guilty feeling that you’re kind of sending your love to your new child, so I just want to get them together so that feeling goes away.”
Rachel spent the morning recovering, reportedly tired, but happy and relieved the baby was fine.
Riccardo said she was “adamant” on having the baby at Sunnybrook, even though the hospital isn’t the closest to their house.
The main reason was Dr. Grace Liu, an “unbelievable” physician who had been with them throughout the pregnancy and they felt “lucky” she was available to deliver their son.
The couple picked Sebastian’s first name as a nod to their Italian heritage.
His middle name was in reference to St. Anne, who Rachel prayed to during her pregnancy. When Sebastian was born, she decided to go with “Antonio,” a masculine version.
Riccardo said he remembered a high school teacher getting into the news when their baby was born on New Year’s Day.
“It’s something different for sure,” he said.
With files from Emily Mathieu and Claire Floody
Premila D’Sa is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @premila_dsa