Anvar Saadat went to church Sunday and prayed that his wife would give birth before Jan. 3. That is when the officer in the army of Colombia has to be back in his native country.
His prayers were answered.
New daughter Salome Saadat arrived at Martin Army Community Hospital at 12:24 a.m. Tuesday, making her the first baby born in the Chattahoochee Valley in 2013.
Salome weighed 7 pounds, 6 ounces and was 19¾ inches long.
"I am excited," the father said. "I wasn't sure we would make it."
The first baby of 2013 delivered in Columbus arrived several hours later.
Veronica Dean gave birth to a boy, Jaicen Rainey, at 7:06 a.m. at The Medical Center. Jaicen was 20 inches long and weighed 7 pounds, 6 ounces.
Both Saadat and his wife of nine years, Martha Linero Ariza, hold the rank of major in the army of Colombia. She is a combat medic, and he is an ordnance officer. Both are instructors at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. They have been at Fort Benning about one year, and she is scheduled to be here for another month. They have a 7-year-old daughter, Samira.
They already knew that their latest child was going to be a girl.
"This is a blessing from God," the new mother said. "I am extremely happy."
She said most of their family members have heard about the birth but not many of their friends.
Delivering a present to the couple Tuesday morning was Col. Glenn R. Huber Jr., the WHINSEC commandant. Huber said he was happy for the couple and that he saw a little irony in the birth, because a child of his was born in Columbia when he was stationed there.
The new mother said that having the first baby born in the area in the new year made the birth even more special and that physically she is feeling very well.
At The Medical Center, Dean, a Columbus resident, said the arrival of her son, her first child, was unexpected.
"The due date was Jan. 10," she said. "A lot of my friends had joked that the baby would come on the first day of the year."
She was thrilled when it happened, saying she was tired of waiting.
Dean said the baby looks just like the father, Michael Rainey.
"There is a photo of Michael as a baby and Jaicen looks just the same," she said.
She said Jaicen came quickly. She was in labor for just four hours.
"I was excited, but I was in pain," she said of the birth.
She said she was excited to have the first Columbus baby of the year. "I'm going to keep all the news reports for him."