Pregnant with twins, Fatima Madrigal rested on a bed in Natividad Medical Center in Salinas, Calif., on New Year’s Eve.
She had heard the hospital hands a gift basket to the mother who gives birth to the first child of the new year in Monterey County, a competition of sorts among the three local hospitals.
“I have better odds than the other moms because I have two,” Madrigal, 28, joked with Dr. Ana Abril Arias.
“It might be one this year and one next year,” Arias said.
It turns out, the doctor was right.
While Madrigal’s three children waited with her partner at their home in Greenfield, an agricultural town about a 30-minute drive south of Salinas, a team of doctors and nurses prepared for the delivery.
At 11:30 p.m., Madrigal began to push.
The mood inside the room was calm and focused, Arias said. Because twin births carry higher risk, the team included labor and delivery nurses, neonatal intensive care nurses, anesthesiologists and two other doctors.
After about 15 minutes, Madrigal gave birth to a baby boy weighing 6 pounds, 1 ounce at 11:45 p.m.
With the umbilical cord cut, nurses lay the newborn against Madrigal’s chest.
Ten minutes later, Madrigal handed her baby boy over, and at 11:59 p.m., she again had the urge to push.
As Arias’ gaze fixed on Madrigal and the incoming child, she heard a cheer and a yell from the hallway, some nurses calling out, “Happy New Year!” Arias glanced back at the heart monitor and its clock.
Seconds later, Madrigal gave birth to a girl weighing 5 pounds, 14 ounces at exactly midnight.
The room erupted in excitement. Some turned to Arias, congratulating her on her prediction. But she deflected and said it had all been in jest.
The hospital said in a statement that even with 120,000 twin births in the U.S. each year, about 3% of all births, the odds of a pair being born in different years is 1 in 2 million. It happened in 2019 and 2020 to a mother of twins in Carmel, Ind.
“I’ve delivered twins, but never different twins with a different day, month and year,” Arias said.
Amid the excitement, the twins, born on opposite ends of a bridge between one year and the next, lay on Madrigal’s chest as she rested.
Madrigal and her partner named the boy Alfredo Antonio Trujillo, after her partner’s grandfather. The girl was named Aylin Yolanda Trujillo — Yolanda, after her partner’s mother, and Aylin, a name with a sound Madrigal found beautiful.
The pregnancy had come as a surprise to Madrigal and her partner, and with the twins’ due date being Jan. 16, so did their auspicious New Year’s birth.
“It’s crazy to me that they are twins and have different birthdays,” Madrigal said. “I was surprised and happy that she arrived at midnight.”
The next day, she returned home, where her three older children, two daughters and a son, awaited with her partner.
Arias briefly connected with the family before going to sleep after her New Year’s shift. Between the holiday scheduling and a recent surge of COVID-19 patients, it would be another few days before she could rest on her weekend, but she still tried to find moments to reflect.
“I think this is definitely the most memorable case I had in my career,” Arias said. “Just in the pandemic, which has been really hard, it’s such a privilege for me to deliver moms and babies here safely. I’m honored to have been there.”