Barely nine hours old, Anna Mary Buonocore already was making her first fashion statement.
“2006,” the knitted stocking cap announced in bold, red thread. Volunteers at North Collier Hospital’s Birth Place crafted the caps for the county’s first newborns of the year.
At 2:03 a.m., Anna became the first of the first.
“Can you believe it?” Anna’s father, George Buonocore III, said.
“We never expected to have the New Year’s baby,” Rachel Buonocore, 31, said as she sat on a bed beside her new daughter’s hospital-issued crib. “That’s so surreal. Once she gets older, she’ll have fun with it.”
But for the time being, the 7-pound, 3-ounce child beneath all those pink blankets seemed oblivious to the attention being paid to her. She slept most of the morning and wailed only once when her blankets were adjusted.
George is the captain of a parasailing boat. Rachel was the assistant manager at the Paper Merchant, a store specializing in stationary that’s owned by George’s parents, until she decided to spend more time with her growing family.
The couple’s first child, George IV, is now 4 years old and in preschool.
“It’s just amazing the love you feel for a child,” Rachel said, explaining why she and her husband decided to break an earlier promise to have only one baby. “You get a little older and you say, ‘Oh, why don’t we have another one?’”
Family members trickled into the hospital suite around noon carrying armloads of roses (including a variety appropriately called “Anna”) and banana bread. Her father, meanwhile, had left for work with promises of an early return.
The cleft in Anna’s chin reveals a hint of Rachel’s side of the family, but her “Roman” forehead and eyes are a Buonocore trait, said Michelle Buonocore, Anna’s paternal grandmother.
“She has an amazingly beautiful nose,” she said as she peered into the clear plastic crib.
Even if Anna had been born a few hours earlier, the family would have been happy, her paternal grandfather said.
“We were saying we would either have a tax deduction or the first baby of the new year,” George Buonocore Jr. said, laughing.
Anna’s sandy-haired older brother took to his new role quickly. Moments after the birth, the youngest George Buonocore admonished his paternal grandmother for taking too many pictures, saying the flash was disturbing his sister.
He also gave her her first nickname: “Anna Banana.”
When his grandmother proposed a trip to the hospital’s bookstore, his thoughts immediately turned to his tired-looking mother.
“You’re going to get a book!” George said excitedly. “That’s your New Year’s present!”