An hour before midnight Wednesday, Katrina Leonard was looking forward to ringing in the new year with family and friends. Standing in the kitchen of her father's home in Hill 'n Dale, she soaked in the delicious smells of the traditional New Year's Day feast being prepared for the next morning.
Suddenly she felt a hard, painful kick in her belly. Then another one. An aunt took one look at her and told her she needed to get to the hospital.
So began the arrival of tiny Reshawna Joann Morgan, who at 4:06 a.m. Thursday became Hernando County's first baby born in 2009. Although the child was not due for another three weeks, Reshawna's mom is now pretty glad the baby didn't wait.
"I tend to get worried when it comes to babies," a weary Leonard said from her bed in the birthing suite at Spring Hill Regional Hospital. "I'm just glad she's here and she's healthy."
At 4 pounds, 14 ounces, Reshawna is, as her mother says, "like a little doll." Sleeping comfortably in a crib near her mother, Reshawna may never know the fright her mother felt a few hours before her arrival.
Leonard recalls that the birth of her daughter Reshay Morgan four years earlier was nothing like this one. Things went smoothly and there was little pain.
Wednesday night's events, however, threw Leonard for a loop.
"I was so sick to my stomach, and that had never happened," she said. "I felt really terrible. I was really afraid that something bad was going to happen to my baby."
Nurses told Leonard she might have to have a caesarean section, but tests confirmed a normal delivery would be okay. By midday Thursday her spirits had improved immeasurably. A visit by her boyfriend, Reggie Morgan, and her daughter Reshay brought Mom some New Year's Day cheer.
However, one person Leonard would love to have had there was missing. Her mother, Joann, whom she described as a wonderful grandmother, died of a sudden illness in April.
Of her mother, Leonard said, "I miss her so much. She would have taken one look at my baby and would have fallen in love."
Logan Neill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 848-1435.