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Alani Jordyn Gonzalez was born at 2:58 a.m. She was the first baby born in Collier County in 2018.

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At around 11 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, Melissa Gonzalez knew it wouldn’t be much longer.

Gonzalez, 26, and her fiancé, Jordan Canales, 26, arrived at NCH North Naples Hospital, where Gonzalez would soon give birth to their daughter, Alani.

The Immokalee couple arrived at the hospital early, before Gonzalez’s water broke.

“I knew it was time to come,” she said. “I didn’t want to be on the road with all the craziness of New Year’s Eve, so I came early.”

Almost four hours later, which included 40 minutes of walking to help induce labor, Gonzalez gave birth to her daughter at 2:58 a.m. Monday. Alani Jordyn Gonzalez, born weighing 7 pounds and 15 ounces, is the first baby of 2018 born in Collier County.

Alani is Canales and Gonzalez’s third child. The Immokalee couple, who got engaged on Christmas Eve, have two other daughters, Audrey, 9, and Avery, 5.

Gonzalez said the experience of giving birth to her two older daughters, who were also born at NCH Naples North, made her more prepared for delivering Alani.

“I knew the pain. I knew what it was like,” she said. “I’ve dealt with it before.”

Alani came into the world screaming and crying, Gonzalez said, but early Monday afternoon, the baby was quiet in her bassinet, occasionally wiggling around to stretch her arms and legs or give a big yawn.

Gonzalez stroked Alani's hair as she placed a pacifier in the baby’s mouth Monday afternoon.

“She has a full head of hair,” Gonzalez said. “She definitely didn’t come out bald.”

Gonzalez said she and Canales chose the name “Alani” to match the “A” names of their daughters Audrey and Avery.

“Now we have triple As,” she said.

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When Gonzalez found out she was pregnant, she knew her daughters would be eager to have another sibling.

“It was exciting because I knew my daughters were going to be excited,” she said.

As the couple waited for their daughters to arrive at The Birth Place at NCH North Naples on Monday afternoon, thrilled family members began to trickle into their room.

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At around 12:30 p.m. the two girls burst in the door.

“Mommy!” the girls exclaimed as they ran to Gonzalez’s bedside.

Gonzalez let both Avery and Audrey hold their new baby sister.

“She’s so small,” Avery said, grinning from ear to ear, as she stroked Alani’s head.

“She looks like Daddy,” Audrey told her mom.

Now, Canales has three daughters, but he’s not too worried.

“It’s fine,” Canales said. “I’ll have my hands full when they get older.”

Gonzalez said she can take Alani home Tuesday afternoon. For now, she’s looking forward to getting some rest.

“I’m still excited, but I haven’t been able to sleep much,” she said.

As Canales and Gonzalez’s family members wrapped Alani in a homemade blanket and a knit 2018 hat from a hospital gift basket, the couple said they hope for a happy year for their new daughter.

“I hope that she stays as healthy as possible and just grows,” Gonzalez said.

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