Ikran Ahmed Mohamed and her husband were so exhausted after her 24-hour labour that they had no idea why a nurse lifted up their new baby — like Rafiki holding up Simba in The Lion King — and called him “the lucky boy.”
He may not be a king, but little Amiir — whose name means “prince” in Arabic — was greeted with fanfare when he arrived, weighing 8.3 pounds, at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Day. A clutch of reporters and cameras was waiting to greet the first baby born in 2020.
“We didn’t even know it was already the new year,” said Amiir’s father, Deeq Mohamed Farah, who had been in and out of Humber River Hospital with Ikran over the holidays after the baby missed his due date of Dec. 22. “He’s a New Year surprise. We didn’t expect a New Year baby.”
Farah said his wife was readmitted late Sunday for induced labour and the delivery was taxing for the first-time parents, who were both Somali refugees living in Djibouti, a tiny country in East Africa, before he fled to Canada for asylum in 2014. Ikran joined him here last year after Farah was granted refugee status and became a permanent resident.
“Neither Ikran nor I have family in Canada. Now we have a baby boy in our company. He is going to be our new best friend,” said Farah, who has been working as an Uber driver after graduating from a computer and network support technician program at Humber College in April.
“It’s hard to become a father. Back home, we did not have a future. We struggled so hard and we want to give our baby the best opportunity in Canada.”
According to UNICEF, an estimated 1,004 first babies would be born in Canada on New Year’s Day in 2020, representing 0.25 per cent of the estimated 392,078 babies born this Jan. 1 around the world.
“The beginning of a new year and a new decade is an opportunity to reflect on our hopes and aspirations not only for our future, but the future of those who will come after us,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF executive director. “As the calendar flips each January, we are reminded of all the possibility and potential of each child embarking on her or his life’s journey — if they are just given that chance.”
On Wednesday, other hospitals across the GTA joined the chorus of welcomes for their first babies of the year.
At Mississauga’s Credit Valley Hospital, Anu and Simran Walia ushered in Aryan, a baby boy weighing 8.1 pounds, just 50 seconds after midnight.
“We were really excited,” said Simran, who had expected the baby to come on Jan. 13 and was taken by surprise when his wife went into labour at 1 a.m. on New Year’s Eve. “We were scared that it might come before at 11:59. But thank God, we had a 2020 baby, and the whole (hospital) staff was trying to get it past midnight and as soon as possible.”
Back at Humber River, Farah and Ikran were busy sharing the news of their arrival with their family in Somalia through texts and video calls.
The couple hope Amiir’s arrival will mark a new beginning for their young family, after being uprooted by civil war and unrest.
“I want Amiir to grow up becoming a teacher, doctor or engineer like his father,” said Ikran, looking admiringly at her husband. “It is not easy to get an education when your country is at war. We want our son to get a good education to teach others, help people and save lives.”
New Year’s babies around the world
More than half the world’s 2020 New Year’s Day babies were delivered in these eight countries, according to estimates from UNICEF:
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The Democratic Republic of Congo: 10,247