Uncertain future tempers joy for mom of first baby in 2009


Suwannee County resident Reyna Lopez, and her husband, Benjamin Guillen Jimenez, are the proud parents of New Year's baby Ariana Yerlin Lopez, born Thursday at Shands Hospital in Gainesville.

Erica Brough/Gainesville Sun
Published: Friday, January 2, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 1, 2009 at 6:14 p.m.

As an undocumented Mexican immigrant, Reyna Lopez must temper the joy of giving birth to Gainesville's first baby of the year with uncertainty about the future.

Ariana Yerlin Lopez was born Jan. 1 at 12:42 a.m. at Shands at the University of Florida, making her the first child born at a Gainesville hospital in 2009.

Her mother lives in Suwannee County and lacks legal status, meaning she could face deportation at any time. She wants her daughter to have the opportunity to get an education in the U.S., so she's putting aside thoughts that they could be separated.

"She's trying not to think about that at the moment," said a friend, Yasmine Thompson, who translated her comments from Spanish.

Lopez, 30, left behind three children ages 5, 12 and 13 in Mexico. After moving to Georgia 3 1/2 years ago, she had another child. She hopes to stay in the U.S. and see her children born here go to college here, then return to Mexico to reunite the family.

She initially lived in Georgia but left when the work ran out, moving to Florida for a job at a vegetable nursery.

She's been a housewife in recent months, a role filled by her husband as he took care of their 3-year-old at home while his wife came to Gainesville to give birth.

The baby was due Dec. 28. Lopez hoped, but didn't expect, the birth of the child would wait until the New Year.

"She was surprised because it's not often when you really want something that you get it," Thompson said.

Lopez went into labor on Dec. 31 around 7 a.m. She waited until 3 p.m. to come to the hospital and then went through several difficult hours of childbirth. She said she is glad her child was born healthy.

"She's just happy the baby's OK ... She's just happy that everything came out all right," Thompson said.

The baby girl weighed 6 pounds, 3 ounces, and was 19 inches long at birth. Lopez had put together a list of names that sounded pretty and settled on Ariana with Thompson's help.

A call to North Florida Regional Medical Center found that the first baby born there arrived at 1:55 a.m., meaning Ariana was the first of the year at the city's hospitals. Her crib was decorated with a "Happy New Year" sign and colorful streamers.

Lopez held her child close Thursday morning, looking tired but aglow with pride. Even with uncertainty about the future, she's sure about one thing.

"She says no more (children) after this," Thompson said.

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

Comments are currently unavailable on this article

▲ Return to Top