While many people around the world were celebrating the New Year at the stroke of midnight on January 1, Dr Assem Al Jaf and his wife Marwa were preparing for a new beginning of a different kind.
The couple were getting ready for the birth of their new baby boy, Ali, who was the first child born at Deniliquin Hospital in 2018.
He arrived at 11.41am on New Year’s Day weighing 3.1kg (6lb8oz), and is the couple’s third child.
‘‘I took 10 days leave from work to prepare for his birth but he arrived late,’’ Dr Assem said.
‘‘My wife went into labour on the day I was meant to go back to work.
‘‘She went into labour at midnight and we quickly contacted Jerilderie Hospital and were advised to go to Deniliquin.
‘‘The practice manager at Jerilderie Hospital stayed with my children and told me not to be a doctor but a supportive husband,’’ he said with a laugh.
‘‘We’re very proud to have our third child.’’
As the first baby of the new year, Ali and his family were showered with gifts by Deniliquin’s Gail McLean, receiving a bottle of wine, singlets, shampoos, soaps and toys.
Mrs McLean has been welcoming Deniliquin Hospital’s first baby of the New Year for the past 30 years.
She had a New Year’s Day baby in 1987 — her son Miles — and at the time Mrs McLean was surprised to learn there was no celebration for the milestone and started the tradition herself.
Dr Assem, who moved to Jerilderie from Sydney a year ago, said the family had also received many congratulations from family and friends in Australia and Iraq.
‘‘My daughter Sama and son Hamza are very excited to have a little brother; they’ve provided so much support and have helped out when they can,’’ he said.
Dr Assem also praised Deniliquin Hospital staff.
‘‘I recommend to my patients to use Deniliquin Hospital rather than Albury Wodonga, as it’s closer and has an excellent maternity ward. The staff were excellent and supportive.’’
Dr Assem works as a locum doctor at the Jerilderie Hospital and Jerilderie Medical Centre.