TAMPA — Giovani Lee Mosquera Pittman never once opened his eyes as news reporters crowded into his hospital room to catch a glimpse of him.
Born 17 seconds after midnight Thursday, the 71/2-pound, 19-inch boy became the first Tampa Bay area baby born in 2009.
"It just shows how special he is," new mother Estephanie Mosquera-Ortiz said quietly as she sat up in her bed at St. Joseph's Women's Hospital to greet her visitors.
Giovani came into the world with a full head of black hair, a pink face, and feet and hands so big that Mosquera-Ortiz already wondered if he might have a future in basketball.
"Anything that makes him happy," she said after letting out a chuckle.
Giovani is the first child born to Mosquera-Ortiz and boyfriend Anthony Pittman, ages 16 and 18, respectively. Pittman snuggled next to Mosquera-Ortiz in her single hospital bed and marveled over their new addition.
"I didn't know the hospitals were competing," the new father said of his son's distinction. "I was just happy he came, finally. Because she was going through so much pain."
Mosquera-Ortiz, who lives in Tampa, gave birth about 51/2 hours after arriving at St. Joseph's on Wednesday. She said she wasn't sure how long her labor lasted. But because she wasn't progressing as quickly as doctors expected, she had an unplanned C-section.
Giovani's original due date was Dec. 31. But Mom and Dad were just fine with his tardiness and looked forward to one day telling him the story of how he came into the world.
"I'll just let him know how special he was and how he brought in the New Year for all babies," Mosquera-Ortiz said.
St. Joseph's delivered more than 7,100 babies in 2008, spokeswoman Lisa Patterson said.
Tampa General Hospital, which claimed the area's New Year baby title for 2008, appeared to be the runnerup in 2009 with a baby girl born at 12:05 a.m.
Maryane Santos was the first baby born in Pinellas County in 2009. She was born Thursday at 2:33 a.m. to Eribelton and Lucy Santos of Largo. Maryanne, 8 pounds, 3 ounces, was born at Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater.
Times staff writer Jamal Thalji contributed to this report. Rebecca Catalanello can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3383.