As the minutes ticked down to year 2000 Friday evening, Jamy Cole-Judd was too busy giving birth to her baby at Columbia Reston Hospital Center to watch the clock.
But the eight nurses who crowded into the labor-and-delivery room with Cole-Judd's husband and her doctor weren't, and they sent up a cheer when little Kevin Judd was born at precisely 12 seconds after midnight.
The timely appearance made Kevin, who will go home to Loudoun County, one of the first year 2000 babies born in the Washington area--a sought-after title that some parents have began hotly pursuing nine months ago.
Hospitals are also jostling to claim the right to the "first area baby born in the millennium" title--issuing press releases, holding news conferences and dishing out prizes to the Y2K newborns and their parents.
"I didn't realize what a contest it would be," said an amused Curtis McCormick, spokesman for Providence Hospital, a Northeast Washington hospital where a baby girl, born 30 seconds after midnight, was one of the first of the new year. "That's what it has kind of evolved into."
Other hospitals also claimed triumph.
"We beat [Inova] Fairfax for a change," crowed Peggy Yanger, a spokeswoman for Columbia Reston hospital, where 5-pound, 14-ounce Kevin Judd was born.
Actually, Inova Fairfax Hospital, that behemoth of birthing in the Washington area, claimed its own record--twins born in both centuries. A Springfield woman gave birth to a girl at 11:52 Friday night and then to a son at 12:01:24, which was 84 seconds into the new year.
Yesterday, the dazed dad showed off the two babies at a crowded news conference at Fairfax hospital--his daughter Faria, weighing in at 4 pounds and 15 ounces, and her brother, Fayaad, weighing 6 pounds 9 ounces.
Their father, Zaheer, 39, who asked that the family's last name not be used, said he and his 36-year-old wife, Shadera--both Muslim--were happier that the children were born during the holy month of Ramadan than that they were born in different years. He laughed when someone pointed out that he could deduct only one child on his 1999 tax return.
The race to claim the title of First Baby of the New Millennium (or Century) has been fierce, as eager parents schemed to conceive a baby with the best shot at attaining the title. Radio stations ran contests, Web sites dispensed advice on conceiving a child at just the right time, and would-be parents snapped up $49.95 "millennium conception kits."
Yesterday, news reports from elsewhere said some parents had scheduled Caesareans or induced labor in a deliberate attempt to have the first baby of the new millennium. But parents and hospitals in the Washington area emphasized that they had let nature take its course.
Inova Fairfax spokeswoman Lisa Wolfington said hospital doctors reported getting requests from parents for induced labor or Caesareans but that the hospital staff takes such steps "only when medically necessary." And a desire to have a Y2K baby, she said, doesn't qualify.
Local parents with the first Year 2000 newborns said yesterday that the milestone had been far from their minds while they awaited the babies' arrivals.
Faria and Fayaad weren't due for another three weeks, their father noted. Cole-Judd, 32, wasn't due until Jan. 30, she said.
Carlos Ascenscio, of Alexandria, the father of Diana Teresa, said his wife was nine days overdue when she went into labor early Friday morning at Providence Hospital. Their daughter, Diana Teresa, was born 30 seconds into the new year.
The title carries with it more than just bragging rights. Gifts to the first babies of the new century include gift baskets, savings bonds, free weekend getaways for parents and other goodies.
But the era of Y2K babies isn't over yet. Hospitals say that the number of births has climbed in the last few weeks and they expect the trend to continue for another week or so, as all those parents aiming for the first Y2K babies give birth.
CAPTION: Luis Fabian, 26, right, and Tasheka Grady, 23, admire their baby Sanani Fabian who, according to officials at Howard University Hospital, was born at 12:01 a.m. yesterday.
CAPTION: Nelly and Carlos Ascenscio, of Alexandria, show off their new baby, Diana Teresa, who was born at Providence Hospital 30 seconds into 2000.