At exactly 10:14 p.m. on July 30, 1984 in the delivery room at the Millington Naval Air Station Hospital outside of Memphis, Tennessee, I met this little girl for the first time. She wasn’t wearing the Mr. Potato Head glasses that evening or the above hand-me-down clothes. Now that I think back, she wasn’t wearing much at all except a head full of wavy, brown hair.
The little girl in this picture is my daughter. She made me a momma for the first time, thirty-one years ago today. The picture above is one of my favorites because it is so HER. Funny, crazy, goofy – all with a poker face.
In my 8th month of pregnancy, I had flown from the Republic of Panama where my husband Daniel was stationed in the Army to Memphis where my parents lived. Daniel came to Memphis after he cleared quarters and received orders for us to move to Ft. Hood, Texas. He stayed with me at my parents’ house as long as he could before he had to report to his new duty station on July 30. Twice that weekend before he left on Sunday, I went out to the hospital sure I was in labor only to be sent home again with a flu diagnosis. I was miserable. Couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat, couldn’t even sit comfortably.
After three L O N G days of (what turned out to be) labor, on the eleventh day beyond my due date, the drop in barometric pressure around 7:30 p.m. and possibly the sip of a cold beer I had while pacing around the yard with my dear daddy FINALLY sent me to the hospital for the third time in as many days. But this time was different. They kept me. I was really in labor and going to have a baby before midnight.
The doctor on call that evening (the only one?) was caught up in the ER with a terrible tragedy and was never able to come up to check on me. At sometime after 10 p.m., the nurse examined me and with her gloved hands caught in the hair on Brennyn’s crowning head, determined that my baby was going to be born any minute, with or without the doctor. It was the practice at military hospitals at the time for women to deliver using natural childbirth. They were given no choice and no pain medication, what-so-ever. And because I was rushed into delivery at the last minute, I received no episiotomy. TMI? Just tore. RIP. (Not to be confused with rest in peace) I did the Lamaze breathing techniques and focused on a bull’s eye optical illusion I had found to stare at.
Something like this.
At 10:14, my daughter came into this world, 8 pounds, 1 ounce, 20″…which we question.
This is the beautiful life I was blessed with.
I give you my creative, clever, funny, sarcastic, intelligent, sweet, beautiful daughter, Brennyn Alexis.
My ‘weet, ‘weet Benny Gay!
(Which is what she called herself – sweet, sweet Brennyn Graves)
Home from the hospital.
Check out my stud-muffin brother and blonde bombshell sister. That’s me with the baby.
The nurses and doctors at the hospital asked me if my husband was Asian or Hawaiian or Samoan because Brennyn looked so little like me with her almond-shaped eyes and darker complexion (and he wasn’t there for her birth). I give you her father, Daniel, in picture number three.
Brennyn is just a little Latina mixed with gringa!
When Brennyn was a baby, we attended an Army-sponsored Christmas party in Panama (yes, we were sent back to Panama for a second tour). They were having contests for the Most Beautiful Brown-Eyed Baby and the Most Beautiful Blue-Eyed Baby. I took Bren up to enter her in the blue-eyed baby contest and the lady doing the registration took one look at my daughter and told me she couldn’t be entered. When I asked why, she replied that Brennyn’s eyes weren’t blue. I looked and just like THAT (snap of fingers), her eyes had changed from blue to green. She won the Most Beautiful Green-Eyed Baby contest that day.
Her eyes are fabulously olive green.
Two years and one day after Brennyn was born, I gave birth to her baby sister, my daughter Lauren. Brennyn became a sister. More about that special day tomorrow.
Lauren was five hours old in this picture. Brennyn is meeting her sister for the first time. When I left for the hospital to have Lauren, I turned for one last look at Brennyn and thought she was so tiny, too tiny to be someone’s big sister. Just hours later, she looked so much bigger and more grown up in comparison to Lauren.
These pictures are of Brennyn and her little sister Lauren in front of and inside our apartment in Panama. The girls loved to play dress up. In the first picture, they are wearing two of my old dresses from college. In the second picture, they are dressed in spring dresses at Christmastime because it was hot in December (and all year long). For the third picture, Brennyn had fashioned a medieval wimple from a black poster board and paired it with a sheer negligee my mother-in-law had given me that I was too shy to wear.
The picture below was taken the day we left Panama in 1988 to move back to the United States. Military families called going back to the U.S. “going back to the world.” Yup, Panama was pretty primitive in those days.
Back to the World.
A couple of random shots.
I am not certain but I think the picture on left may have been taken when I first came down with Lyme Disease but didn’t know it yet. The middle picture is Christmas circa 1994 or 1995. On the right, Brennyn in high school.
Here are some pictures from recent birthdays.
Brennyn’s favorite color has for a long time been some shade of blue and Lauren’s has been some shade of orange. If you look closely at the fourth picture above, the bakery mixed up the names on the cakes, and put Brennyn on the cake with orange and Lauren on the cake with blue. Ooops.
We usually work beach time into birthday celebrations.
Brennyn’s husband Corey’s birthday is August 31 and Lauren’s husband Francisco’s birthday is August 15. My granddaughter Cady’s is July 28.
Brennyn is not only a wonderful daughter, but now she is a dedicated, hard-working, compassionate neonatal nurse.
Trying on wedding dresses to the left. The minute she put this one on we all knew it was THE ONE. On her wedding day on the right, with little sister admiring her (Lauren’s reflection in the mirror).
Beautiful Key West wedding that Brennyn planned all by herself.
She had never even been to Key West!!
I helped the best I could but she coordinated everything.
And it was a wedding to remember.
Around Christmas of 2009, I received some of the best news ever. I was going to be a grandma. A Mimi. A granny. Una abuela.
In the picture on the left, Brennyn is looking at pictures of herself as a baby. In the picture on the right, I was probably saying hello to my grandbaby (softying Bren’s tummy).
Home from the hospital with Cady, 7/30/2010, undoubtedly Brennyn’s best-ever birthday present.
Proud mommy moment, 6/2014, Cady’s first ballet recital.
This year’s birthday bash at New Braunfels and Galveston, of course.
So today I wish my daughter Brennyn Alexis Pieper a very happy birthday.
Thank you for making me a mommy for the first time.
I am so proud of you, the daughter, wife, mother and sister you are.
I love you.
Hugs and kisses,