OGDEN — Dr. Mark Housley was summoned to the hospital at the stroke of midnight that brought in 2019.
"I thought it was an alarm for the countdown," Housley said. "We got to zero and my phone went off."
Fortunately, Housley checked his phone to be sure, which is when "I saw this urgent message to get there."
Within minutes, Housley had arrived at McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden and delivered a healthy baby girl, the first Utahn born in 2019. Weighing 5 pounds, 13 ounces and measuring 18.5 inches long, little Evolet Figuerola earned the distinction of the state's New Year's baby by virtue of an official 12:21 a.m. time of birth.
More important, Evolet is also the first child born to her mother, Sheryl Lopez, of North Salt Lake. Lopez admits 2019 has been a whirlwind for her growing family so far.
"It's scary at first, but we're super excited," she said. "I was freaking out at first, but I'm good now."
Lopez has been making the trip to Ogden for her maternity care in order to get treated by Housley, who once delivered her younger sister. She wasn't due until Jan. 9 but was induced after she visited the hospital Monday and found to have preeclampsia.
Even then, it wasn't expected Lopez would have her baby before sometime between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m.
"Everything was just super fast," she said.
When Housley made it in just about six minutes before the baby was born, "I was freaking out at first," Lopez said, "but I'm good now."
Housley said the delivery from that point forward went smoothly and that "mom and baby are doing well." He called baby Evolet a "beautiful little girl." Her father is Brayan Figuerola.
Lopez had no idea until about 9 a.m. that her baby girl was the first across the finish line in 2019. In recognition of the unique occasion, Intermountain Healthcare gave her a certificate to spend as she pleases in the hospital's gift shop.
"It's exciting. I never expected it to be like this," Lopez said.
As for baby? She is blissfully unaware of all the extra attention, her proud mom said.
"She's doing really good. She's been sleeping all day long," Lopez told the Deseret News.
As she spent time bonding with her daughter, the new mom said she is struck at how Evolet is "just so tiny."
"It feels like you're holding a doll."
Evolet's early arrival means she was just in time for California relatives in town for the holidays to see her. She also narrowly beat out other babies who were apparently eager to meet the new year; University of Utah Health tweeted out its congratulations Tuesday to "baby Dezlynn," who was born at University of Utah Hospital at 12:38 a.m.Comment on this story
According to the University of Utah Kem C. Garner Policy Institute, Utah's fertility rate ranked second in the United States in 2016, behind only South Dakota, though that rate in the Beehive State has dropped significantly since 2008.
Housley delivered his 1,000th baby last year, and since then has lost count, he said. But some occasions — like this one — stick out much more than others.
"Having it be New Year's, it will be easy to remember of course," he said.
Contributing: Caitlin Burchill