There was a certain symmetry to the arrival of the Washington area’s first baby of the new year: As 2012 made its debut, so did a baby girl in Maryland — at precisely 12:12 a.m.

She is the first daughter and third child of Irja and Greg Bonafede, a military family from Upper Marlboro, who pronounced themselves “a little astounded” by their midnight-hour delivery.

A healthy baby Bonafede — with dark hair, blue-brown eyes and round cheeks — weighed in at 8 pounds 10 ounces at Southern Maryland Hospital Center in Clinton. By shortly after 1 a.m., she was followed by babies in Rockville and Leesburg.

“We had no idea it would be smack-dab at midnight,” Greg Bonafede said from the hospital Sunday afternoon as his newborn snuggled up with her mother. “But of course the baby has her own idea of things.”

Eyeing a due date of Jan. 16, her parents had thought they had another week or two before their daughter made an appearance. Yesterday, as news crews showed up one after another, they had little time to choose among several favorite names.

Irja, 36, had begun to recognize labor pains Saturday during an outing to the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore, where the family took in Christmas displays. The Bonafedes’ sons — Leo, 5, and Dean, 3 — had such a good time they did not want to leave.

“Halfway through the day, I started realizing this really could be it,” Irja said. So Greg, 45, drove them all home, and by 6 p.m. babysitters were in place for their sons and the Bonafedes were heading to the hospital.

Irja says she is glad — that she really wanted a January baby.

The family already has two December birthdays on the calendar — Greg’s and Leo’s. Plus, Irja thought January would honor her late mother, who had a birthday in that month.

Her baby’s arrival at 12:12 a.m., in January 2012, struck both parents as meaningful.

But how?

“To me, it makes me think of the 12 days of Christmas, which we’re still in,” she concluded.

Greg Bonafede was still mulling it over.

A lieutenant colonel in the Air Force who works as a speechwriter at the Pentagon, he had worked in earlier years as an English professor at the Air Force Academy and taken a particular interest in medieval literature.

“I know there’s a lot of fun you can have with all of these numerological relationships,” he said. “I don’t know at the moment what they are. I will have to do some research.”

The new baby had a momentous arrival in another way, too: outdoing her brothers’ birth weights by nearly two pounds and nearly three pounds. But the Bonafedes, mindful of the danger of sibling comparisons, were quick to widen the spotlight.

Said Greg: “All of our children are little miracles.”


Students, parents ask: What holiday?

Viola Drath: A remarkable life hijacked

Getting a handle on the new bag tax

Two killed in New Year’s crash in Bethesda