Here we are again, talking babies and birthdays.
It was 4:33 p.m. on a Thursday afternoon 29 years ago at Gorgas Army Hospital, Ancon Hill, the Republic of Panama that I first set eyes on this bundle of baby. Although she wasn’t holding on to any type of rabbit at the moment of her debut, it surely wasn’t long afterward that she began her life-long love of bunnies.
While my labor with Brennyn was three days long, my labor with Lauren was lightning fast. The day before, on July 30, 1986, we had celebrated Brennyn’s second birthday with a quiet, little party at our apartment. I had prayed all day that I wouldn’t go into labor on Brennyn’s birthday because I wanted my each of my babies to have their own birth-day. When I woke up at 2:30 a.m. on July 31 with mild contractions, I realized I had done it…my body had somehow waited until two hours into the following day to go into labor with my second baby.
I moved from our bedroom to the couch downstairs so that Daniel and Brennyn wouldn’t be disturbed with my quiet moaning and groaning and rolling around. At 5:30, Daniel got up and left for PT. I ironed his Army uniform and started breakfast. He got home a couple hours later, had breakfast and then left for work. My contractions were still quite a bit apart. His cousin, Gloria, had come to the Canal Zone where we lived from the interior of Panama where Daniel’s family lives, to help watch Brennyn while I was having the baby. Brennyn and Lauren shared the same due date, July 19, which they both totally disregarded. Gloria had already been with us a couple of weeks waiting with us for baby to be born.
My contractions had begun coming much more quickly about the time Daniel came home for lunch at noon. After eating, he announced that his unit had been given the afternoon off and that he was going to go into downtown Panama City to help a friend buy tires.
Guess what I said?
Well, I don’t remember exactly what I did say but it was something along the lines of “NO!”
Followed by something like “No, you’re not!”
We argued for a bit, Daniel saying that he had promised to go with this guy to translate for him at the Panamanian tire stores. He asked me what he was supposed to tell his friend.
I suggested that he tell him we were having a baby.
I went upstairs, showered, put on make-up and polished my nails, then decided it was probably about time to get the show on the road. As I walked out the door with Daniel (I won that argument) to go to the hospital, I turned back around for one more look at my little two-year-old baby Brennyn. She was so little to be someone’s big sister. Not much more than a baby herself. I was a little sad.
There was only one road from where we lived to the hospital and the route involved crossing the Bridge of the Americas over the Panama Canal.
We got smack-dab in the middle of that bridge when the traffic came to a stand-still. The bridge began shaking, not violently or anything, but just swaying or bouncing with the weight of the idling ‘parked’ cars in both directions. I started imagining that I might have to deliver baby numero dos in the car when finally there was a break in the log-jam and we started moving again.
About that same time it started raining. Not a drizzle but a down pour. A rain forest kind of rain. We zipped up to the hospital, Daniel dropped me off at the ER door and I hobbled in. He parked the car and joined me as I was being taken up to Labor and Delivery.
Two hours later at 4:33 p.m., I was holding my 8 pound 2 ounce Lauren Allegra Graves.
And just like that (snap of fingers), my little baby was whisked away from my arms because she was “too cold” for mama (me) to snuggle.
If you know Lauren, or have seen her pictures here on my blog you know she has very curly hair. But on her birth-day, Lauren’s hair was just a little bit of straight, reddish-blonde whispiness. Once I saw her (for that split second before they took her away from me), I realized she looked like my sweet daddy, Buford DeWayne Roberts. Daniel even commented on it, too. From that day on, we began calling Lauren “Buffy” in honor of my dad.
I encouraged Daniel to go home to share the news about the birth of our baby girl. We weren’t able to call the U.S. from our home at that time, so we had to wait until we could go somewhere to make a long distance phone call to let my parents know Buffy had arrived. I was rolled into a labor room because they didn’t have a regular room available and promptly forgotten by all the hospital staff.
No one checked on me, I was brought nothing to eat or drink. I didn’t get to see Lauren. I just laid in bed alone.
I read a book, touched up my make-up and then got up and looked out the window to see if it was still raining. The sun had come out and was setting, and there was a beautiful rainbow stretching across Ancon Hill. Then I spotted two birds flying together under the rainbow’s arc. I thought of them as my Brennyn and Lauren, sisters, always together for life.
About 9:00 p.m., Daniel returned with Brennyn and Gloria. The pictures above show Buffy’s straight, reddish hair that earned her the nickname. Gloria holding Brennyn to see Buffy. Brennyn and Buffy’s first kiss. Our family.
Here are some more pictures of my babies together.
When we came back to the World (U.S. from Panama), I was thrilled to be able to shop somewhere other than just the PX. I wanted my daughters to have real Christmas dresses for the first time. They had always worn springy Easter dresses at Christmas (and all year round) in tropical Panama. The middle picture shows the fancy Christmas dresses I saved grocery money to buy, December 1988.
Years of hair straightening products, flat iron purchases, chemical treatments, Lauren is finally comfortable with her curls and has learned to manage them beautifully.
Here are a few pics of joint birthday celebrations.
Ages 1 & 3, 6 & 8, 5 & 7, 25 & 27, Panama, Colorado, El Paso, Galveston.
Lauren has always been shy. So am I and so is Brennyn. We are also homebodies and tended to do things together rather than with a host of friends. We have always been together, through thick and thin. Somewhere along the way we started calling ourselves ‘three girls together on the boom boom”. And come what may, we are always three girls together on the boom boom…
…three girls together with a whole lot of animals. Both girls and I are animal lovers. We have had cats, dogs, fish, turtles and rabbits. Lauren had a particular passion for rabbits. Has had close to ten bunnies as pets who lived with us in our home and two that moved with her to Houston when she married Francisco. (And their marriage survived that!)
In second grade, Lauren had to create an Easter bonnet…ta da! And the stuffed bunny on the right is Lauren’s beloved Daisy Jane (DJ) with whom she slept until high school.
Both girls worked as veterinary technicians at the Northeast Area Vet Clinic; Lauren first, then Brennyn joined her. When I was struggling to make ends meet as a single mom, I even worked at the clinic for a time in the evenings after I got off work as a librarian.
Here is Lauren on her first day of work.
Lauren is a loving daughter and so much more. She is creative, intelligent, athletic, kind, loving and beautiful, inside and out.
She is also an information scientist with Abbott Laboratories (kind of like a medical librarian). Here she is on graduation day. Can you pick her out from the other graduates?
Look for the green eyes. (And black peep toe shoes)
She is a wife.
Lauren and Francisco were married on Cinco de Mayo, 2012, at Butterfield Trail Golf Course in El Paso. Just like her big sister before her, Lauren planned their entire wedding. Of course, the wedding toppers were a bunny bride and groom.
Lauren is a wonderful Aunt Buffy to Brennyn and Corey’s daughter Cadence. Our Cady Coo was the flower girl at Lauren’s wedding. She felt it her responsibility as such to gather all the flowers.
And now Lauren is going to be a mommy herself.
After four at home pregnancy tests in the last three weeks, all saying + or | or screaming YES in bold letters, Lauren and Francisco texted me to say they wanted bunny baby booties for their birthdays.
I thought the booties were precious but not terribly appropriate for an anesthesiologist or a medical librarian to wear. And probably too small.
And then the lightbulb came on.
And yup, we are going to have a baby.
My baby who made me a mommy for a second time is making me a Mimi for the second time.
I give you baby Buendia.
I’ll just go on and say it.
Looks just like me.
And I am so excited.
These pictures were taken on Cady’s birthday, July 28. I have been dying to tell the world since I found out about three weeks ago, right before we went on vacation, but Lauren made me promise to wait til she went to the doctor and had official confirmation. Her due date is March 18, my BFF Sharon’s birthday. So this won’t be a July baby. My bank account is thankful. But if she runs late, baby Buendia might be born on March 21, my mom’s 89th birthday. And if she is as late as I was, this baby could be born close to my own birthday on April 6.
No matter when it is born, it will be welcomed and loved.
When Lauren was little, she tried to come up for a way to express her love for me. We hadn’t heard the expression ‘love you to the moon and back’. So Lauren came up with her own expression. There were mountains off in the distance as far as the eye could see on the horizon to the east and then our own Franklin mountains to the west right outside our backdoor.
Lauren started saying she loved me from one mountain to the other one mountain.
Well, Lauren (and Brennyn, Cady and baby B.), I love YOU from one mountain to the other one mountain.
Happy birthday, baby Buff.
Hugs and kisses,