After three long days of labor, Kristine Panlilio “cried for joy” when she saw her firstborn, Donovan, delivered early Saturday in Santa Rosa.

“The moment he was out, red-looking and crying, I was so relieved that he was OK,” said the exhausted and emotional new mother, who is a nurse.

She and husband Dave Panlilio, 40, welcomed a 7-pound, 11-ounce baby boy who was 20.47 inches long and born at 12:31 a.m at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center Santa Rosa.

He was first of the babies born to Sonoma County parents, who like the Panillos, spent their last hours of 2021 and the first of 2022 in local hospitals. Information was gathered from hospital communications officers because the Miss Sonoma County organization opted to skip their role this year because of the COVID-19 threat.

A C-section wasn’t in the Panlilios’ plans, but after three days of slow progress, that turned out to be the best solution for all concerned.

“My husband said God is really testing us. In the end he rewarded us by giving us the first baby born in 2022,” Kristine, 31, said. “The last thing I remember, it was 12:05 a.m. and they were joking that this might be the first baby of the year. ‘You might be in the paper.’ ”

Their nearest competition would arrive hours later with the birth of Cade David Espinoza at 11:29 a.m. Saturday at Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital. He came into the world weighing 8 pounds, 6.4 ounces, and his parents are Jessica and Uly Espinoza of Windsor. No one was close to imminent labor at Santa Rosa Providence Memorial Hospital or Providence Petaluma Valley Hospital, a spokesperson said.

The Panlilos moved to Rohnert Park only about a month ago. They called the Kaiser nursing staff “amazing.”

As the parents of the first baby born, they were presented with a basket of baby goodies: “a cute teddy bear, baby clothes, a book with animals and booties for the feet and hands,” Dave said.

“Words can’t describe the feeling I have after the labor that Kristine went through. But we decided this is how God wanted it, and I’m so thankful that baby and mom are well and happy,” he said. “Once the baby was born it was all worth it.”

Donovan came by his name through alliteration with his Dad, and a nod to Gaelic history.

“We wanted to stick to the letter D because my name is Dave, and I found out the name was Irish and meant ‘dark warrior,’ ” he said. “I thought that was pretty cool. It’s funny because he’s really our shining light.”

You can reach Staff Writer Kathleen Coates, at [email protected]