Sabrina: Oct. 6, 1973

UPI Mexico City bureau at night. I’d look out the window at the corner of Avenida Morelos and Paseo de la Reforma, city lights, traffic, the car downstairs; talk to Benjamin the “office boy;” look at the afternoon papers, scanning for news. It was fun when there was news.

That particular night there wasn’t news until Vange called, about 9 pm. “Nothing,” she said; nothing was up. “I just wanted to make sure you were there.”

I thought about that one for about a second, told the office boy I was leaving, and took off for home. We didn’t have cellphones in those days. There might not be a second chance. Vange was plenty due with Sabrina.

By the time I was home she knew I was on my way because she’d called the office several times. We had to hurry. Contractions were coming too fast and too hard. Eva would meet us at the hospital.

The drive, at about 10:30 at night on a weeknight, didn’t take long. We were relatively close, from San Jose Insurgentes it was up the Periferico to the Hospital Engles. I remember very well the topes, how much they seemed to hurt.

The hospital worked quickly. Jaime was there. Eva was there shortly. There was a short time in the preparation, then into the delivery room. I waited on the inside of the doors now, where I could hear everything, but they still didn’t let the fathers inside the delivery room itself.

There was struggle, effort, and then, in just a few minutes,

“Otra nina guera.”

It was Vange’s voice, full of happiness. Sabrina had arrived, slightly smaller than Laura at 7 lbs 8 ounces, with a twisted nose, and beautiful from the first glance.

The twisted nose became a funny story because we, young parents that we were, worried about it for days. Dr. Lasky just teased us, “don’t worry, surgery for that will be easy later on.” Of course it’s common and went away.

Laura: July 15 1972

“Tim. Call my mother.” It was the middle of the night, probably between 1 and 2 in the morning. Finally, the waiting was over.

Thank God the old red volkswagen (chofre) started. It was dark, quiet, easy to get to the hospital quickly. Vange fell into caring hands. Eva arrived.

Jaime Lopez Ortiz, tall, good looking, personable, and thoroughly reassuring, was waiting for us at the Hospital Dalinde, in Colonia Condesa, just past the Periferico, behind Insurgents. It had been carefully chosen. It was close to Dr. Lopez Ortiz’ office.

Vange was rolled away and the doctor followed her behind two beige doors with small portholes, through which I could see only a hallway. Eva and I sat together and waited. And waited. And waited.

“They are both fine.” Jaime the doctor had popped out of the door. “But the baby’s heartbeat is slowing, don’t worry, I’m going to push things faster now, and if I can’t get the baby in about 10 minutes, we’ll do a Cesarean.”

Minutes took forever. Then we heard the baby crying, from through the doors, and Jaime was back out, quickly. “She’s a beautiful baby girl, very blond (guera).”

It took about half an hour before we could see her, tiny baby, a face only, slicked down, sleeping. Vange was out for several hours. The world had changed. We had Laura. Joy, reverence, magic, and I floated, having become somebody else, somebody happier, stronger, more loving, more responsible, better.

They scared us. Hours passed, we waited for them to bring the baby to the room for cuddling and nursing. Fear mounted. Welcome to the rest of your life. We complained. There was no explanation. We complained again. Finally I went downstairs and insisted. She was breathing hard, a bit of moisture, she would be fine.

And she was. Baby Laura’s first cold.

On the second day, mid morning, I was driving towards home to fetch some things for Vange when Raul passed me, going the other way, and we stopped in the middle of the road, driver to driver. “I’m in a hurry,” I said, “they’re going to bring the baby back to the room in a little bit.” Raul smiled and waved. He had no idea. The new baby, baby Laura.

One of my meditation tapes — today, 35 years later — talks about feeling light like power come through your body as you breathe in. Cheesy, irrelevant, except for this: that was what happened every time that little blond baby girl breathed: like like power ran through her.