Born on New Year’s Day: Meet one of Columbia’s first babies of 2019

Jarese Woodard (center) and Xavier Gaston with their son, Bryson, who was born at 3:36 a.m. on New Year’s Day.
Jarese Woodard (center) and Xavier Gaston with their son, Bryson, who was born at 3:36 a.m. on New Year’s Day.

At midnight, when the year turned from 2018 to 2019, Jarese Woodard was at a relative’s house, celebrating like everyone else albeit more calmly. It would be a particularly exciting year for her, because she would give birth to her baby on Jan. 13 if all went as the doctors predicted.

She had a scheduled doctor’s appointment coming up this week to learn when and how the baby would be delivered.

But that didn’t happen. Three and a half hours after midnight, Woodard gave birth to Bryson Gaston, her second son, at Palmetto Health Richland. He was the third New Year’s Day baby born at the hospital.

Woodard, 26, said she’d felt contractions around 9 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, but thought they were a false alarm. Her partner, Xavier Gaston, 28, thought the same. Woodard decided to write down in a notebook every time she had a contraction. Yet by the time she arrived at the hospital, she was 8 centimeters dilated. Baby Bryson would make his arrival nearly two weeks early.

“It was shocking,” Gaston said.

On the way to the hospital, Woodard called her cousin, 27-year-old Sherkia Pitts. Pitts was working a midnight shift at Applebee’s on Harbison, where there were “two people” dining on New Year’s Eve.

“I was like, ‘Oh my god, really?’” Pitts said. “I’ll walk if I have to.”

Right after work, Pitts went to the hospital, staying for hours admiring Baby Bryson’s face.

Woodard called it an exciting experience, though she didn’t have a cesarean section as she had expected and she was too dilated upon arrival to receive an epidural for the pain. Bryson weighed 6 pounds, 9 ounces at birth and is 19.5 inches long.

New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day were busy days at hospitals through the Midlands. Nineteen babies were born after midnight at Palmetto Health’s four hospitals. One was born at 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 31. Lexington Medical Center in West Columbia delivered 8 babies on New Year’s Day.

Isabella Cueto is a bilingual multimedia journalist covering Lexington County, one of the fastest-growing areas of South Carolina. She previously worked as a reporter for the Medill Justice Project and WLRN, South Florida’s NPR station. She is a graduate of the University of Miami, where she studied journalism and theatre arts.