The new father lit yet another cigarette with the still smoldering butt of his last one. Two more crushed smokes lay near his feet.
"I'm so nervous right now," Jarniel, 27, said outside the maternity hospital where his first son was born early Monday. "You could say I'm also smoking for my wife. I still can't believe it. Our first son."
For many Cubans, the New Year means half a century of revolution and sacrifice. For some, it signals the possibility of a change in the strained relations with the United States. For a young couple in Havana, 2009 will always have another significance.
Cristobal, named after his paternal grandfather, weighed nearly 9 pounds. Wrapped in a white cotton blanket that his 24-year-old mother Zaida brought from home, the baby boy spent his first hours of life sleeping in a metal crib.
A half dozen of his parents' friends and relatives formed a semicircle around the crib.
Jarniel said he and Zaida worry about raising a child amid the economic hardship on the island. He works off the books, repairing watches and jewelry from his home. She doesn't work. Three generations of their families -- a total of seven people plus the new baby -- will live in the same cramped Havana apartment.
The baby's godfather snapped a picture of the baby with his cell phone, then asked the others to move the crib away from a baby-blue wall with peeling paint. The heavy wind outside entered through a broken window and dislodged chips of paint on the floor. The godfather swept the peeling paint under the bed with his feet.
"We want him to look good," he said. "It's his first day."