Have you ever become friends with someone and wonder where they have been all your life? Stephanie and I became fb buddies after she started following various blogs of mine. We have not met in person, but i think we have a LOT in common. As i read through her birth story, I enjoyed how easy it was to follow along. I love your humor and tone, I can’t wait to read P girl’s story. Hurry and write it, k?thanks for sharing! oh and by the way…I’ve never heard someone rave about the joys (not sarcastically) of pregnancy like this!! JEALOUS. peace, melanie.
The Story of Peanut
Peanut’s birth story begins on December 23rd, 2008.
That night my husband Jack and I were returning from our traditional winter vacation to St. Pete Beach, Florida. The flight from Tampa to Indianapolis was suavecito, but once on the highway from Indy to Cincy, our hometown, we realized we were in for a dicey ride. A terrifying sleet and snow mix was coming down hard and the stretch of I-74 we were on had hardly been treated, making for the perfect luge across Indiana. I remember telling him as he gripped the wheel, totally white-knuckled, “Be extra careful, I think we might be towing precious cargo.” He nodded in agreement and knew exactly what I meant without even having to ask. We could not explain it, but we both just had a hunch that we had gone to St. Pete Beach as a family of two and came back as a family of three. It turns out we weren’t the only ones thinking that way.
My dearest friend from Spain, Padre José Antonio Zazo, wrote me on Christmas day. I was delighted to hear from him since the last time I had contact with him was a few months earlier, when in a phone conversation I told him we were hoping to start a family soon but that I had to get settled in to my new job before we started trying. His message was to wish us happy holidays and to tell me that he hoped all was going well for my husband and I, my pregnancy and our ‘maravilloso niño.’ Huh? In his e-mail he spoke with such conviction about me being pregnant that I wondered if I was dreaming while reading it. Though we had our suspicions, I was still nowhere close to missing my period and taking a test. I wrote him back and said that I wasn’t pregnant that I knew of, but asked him if he knew something that I didn’t. I should have known. José Antonio is a priest, presumably with a direct line to the Man Upstairs. He wrote back and said he was sorry for the error, that he just assumed since I had told him a few months prior that we hoped to be pregnant by the end of the year he figured it was so. He signed off by saying ‘de todos modos, no excluyamos la premonición’ (in any case, let’s not exclude my premonition). Fast forward to the Spanish holiday of los tres reyes magos on January 6th. The first and only test we bought confirmed what we knew in our guts to be true—baby on board. It was hands down the best gift the wise men ever brought me. I wrote Padre Zazo to tell him the news. He wrote back within twenty four hours congratulating me. To this day I know he knew, I just know.
We had always known we wanted to wait to find out what we were having and had two names picked out in a matter of a couple days: Joseph Anthony (we knew any boy we ever have would have Jack’s initials—and we wanted Padre Jose Antonio to play a part in our little boy’s namesake) and Pilar Kathryn (we knew that we wanted our girl to take on the name of Spain’s patroness, and the most beautiful cathedral we’d ever visited, which resides in Zaragoza). We only had to wait 30 something more weeks to see which one would arrive to us! In the meantime, we nicknamed the baby growing inside of me ‘Peanut.’ Jack + Steph + Peanut=one happy family.
My pregnancy was a dream, an absolute dream. You might think that’s just because I’m looking back on it, and it’s always easy to see through rose colored glasses when looking in reverse. But as I flip through Peanut’s baby book, every entry exudes happiness and bliss, excitement and wonder. If I had tossed a quarter in a jar for every time I had written that I loved being pregnant, we could’ve funded Peanut’s first year of college as an IU Hoosier.
It was 41 plus weeks of heaven on earth, of shiny, glossy hair and strong nails, of rosy cheeks and that special glow. Of unforgettable firsts—first time hearing that sweet, sweet sound of Peanut’s racing heart, first time seeing Peanut’s tiny little body squirming about in the womb and playing shy (we couldn’t have found out what Peanut was even if we wanted—Peanut was precocious even then, playing hide and seek with the ultrasound technician), first little flutters followed by notably fiesty kicks, followed soon after that by the first time Daddy-o would feel such kicks. No morning sickness, no aversions to any food.
It was 41 plus weeks of 41,000 plus memories, far too many to share or even to archive in my brain. Sometimes even now a random memory will come to me from when I was pregnant with Peanut and I will frantically search for pen and paper to write it down because I never ever want to forget—but my mind has always worked faster than my hand and I inevitably can’t get the words on paper quick enough, so I just smile to myself and pray that those fleeting memories occasionally pay me a visit.
It was 41 plus weeks of in-and-out textbook visits to the doctor—I was always right where I was supposed to be, and hardly ever had questions for the doc. I gained about as much weight as I should have, but gained so much more—a whole new sense of humanity, of closeness to God, of love for my husband, of respect for my mother. I felt so ALIVE. Peanut was my sole travel companion when I set off to travel for work in my first trimester to Mexico, then later in my second trimester to France, Germany and Spain—and everywhere I went people told me the same thing: you were born to be pregnant. I loved hearing those words because that was exactly how I felt. Nothing had ever felt more right to me than the experience of carrying my Peanut.
Hold up, rewind. Did I say 41 weeks of heaven on earth? Because what I meant to say was 40 weeks. How could I forget the rollercoaster of emotions that was that last week before Peanut’s arrival?
My due date was Saturday, September 12th. The night of September 11th we went on a pub crawl, of all things, with some of our friends (I never minded the stares when we went to bars—I always parted the crowds with my belly and got to the bar first as a result, only to order either water or whatever non-alcoholic brewsky the place had in stock). I got all the obvious questions, namely “When are you due?” to which I could coolly reply on this day “in a few hours!” “CHEERS, dude!” Damn right, Cheers! Tomorrow was going to come, along with Peanut, and voila…Goetz Family of Three. What a first-timer I was.
As the 12th came and went, my sense of confidence waned. That morning we went to the doc where, as usual, she said all looked great. But I still had not dilated, Peanut had not moved down any further, and my cervix was soft and “fairly ripe,” but not at all open. Alright, keep calm, I kept telling myself, no worries, you’re golden. You’ve made it 40 weeks, what’s a few more days? Ask any woman who has gone past her due date her first pregnancy and she’ll tell you: a few more days feels like weeks, months even. In Spanish they call it ‘la dulce espera’ (the sweet wait). Optimists call it ‘God’s lesson in patience and in telling you that you are not in control.’ Realists call it ‘torture,’ maybe even ‘Hell.’ It sounds melodramatic—but it’s true.
The first few days post due date I tried to play it cool like it was no big deal, but underneath the surface storms were a brewin’. I held it together fairly well, mostly thanks to Jack who keep giving me the boosts I needed even though I could tell he was anxious to get the (damn!) show on the road and meet Peanut, too. But when I went to the doctor on Wednesday the 16th, the floodgates finally opened. Once again, my vitals were great. No swelling, blood pressure remarkably low. They did a non-stress test, to which Peanut responded well. They did an ultrasound and again, Peanut passed with flying colors—plenty of nutrient-rich fluid, baby was moving around as it should, looking to be a healthy 8 lbs. or so. But the doc’s words resonated in my ear so loud that they drowned out any and all positivity: “No progress…” Once I heard that, I zoned out for the rest of the appointment. Thankfully Jack covered for me as the doc gave us instructions on what would happen next: forego the 41 week appointment on Saturday the 19th and report directly to Labor and Delivery at the hospital on Sunday the 20th at 6:00 p.m. for an induction. GULP. Induction? This is not how this was supposed to happen! I did NOT want Peanut to be forced into this world, not in the least. Peanut was to come naturally, as God and Mother Nature (and I, dammit!) intended.
We left the doc’s office to all the staff members saying ‘hopefully you won’t even make it until Sunday (smile, wink, faking encouragement).’ Jack shot them all glares (I loved him for that), then got me to the car and let me break down like the good man he is. I began: “Everything has gone so WELL up to now! Why isn’t Peanut coming? What am I doing WRONG?” Sob, cry, heave. Thank God for Jack, even-keeled and poised as always, who in his gentle way gave me the reality check I needed: Peanut was healthy, I was healthy, get my head out of my rear and stop feeling sorry for myself. Followed by, “Let’s get some ice cream, dear.” Jack is a wise man and knew that Dairy Queen was the only possible ending to that day. After my blizzard, all was right with the world. Surely, Peanut would come tomorrow…
Thursday came and went, too. I got a major project done at work and figured that would signal Peanut’s arrival. Certainly Peanut would come now that Momma’s new website at work was launched, right? Wrong.
Jack and I had made the very wise decision earlier in the week to take Friday off if Peanut had not arrived by then. It turns out that’s all we needed to do to encourage Peanut out of its shell. Peanut was not waiting for Mommy’s work project to be complete, Peanut was just waiting for Mommy and Daddy to have their last day as a family of two together. This makes me cry when I think about it in retrospect. Our little baby knew exactly what we needed—time to be with each other, just that little bit of time to remind us of the importance of OUR relationship which is the whole reason for Peanut’s existence. I could almost hear Peanut saying—or was that you, God?—“Your life is going to profoundly change—make sure you always love one another and make time for each other first so you can show me what love is.”
Jack and I had one of the very best dates ever that Friday—it was a date that lasted all day long. We woke up late and made what we like to call ‘American breakfast’—eggs, pancakes, bacon, the whole nine yards. We lazily sat on the porch afterwards, then took a nap on the couch, talking to Peanut all the while, laughing, smiling, relaxing for the first time all week. We had a late lunch at one of our favorite joints, Upland, and ate outside—it was one of those blue-sky, cloudless days, sunny and fresh. Back home to lay around some more, then out one last time to head uptown and catch the free movie playing on campus, ‘Away We Go.’ How fitting—Jack and I laughed and cried (okay, only I cried) through the movie that took us on an adventure of a couple expecting their first child and finding the most suitable place to raise their baby. So many of the scenes struck a chord with us, we who were having our first child in the town that had become ‘ours,’ Bloomington, but that we couldn’t help but notice was not Cincinnati, where all of our family members live. It was the perfect film for our mood and for our circumstances—funny and light, touching and profound. We followed up with pizza at Café Pizzeria and took a walk around the block, hand in hand. I will never forget that night as long as I live; it’s the stuff magic is made of. Have I ever thanked you for that night, Peanut? Thank you, thank you, thank you my sweet and perceptive child. You are wise beyond your two and a half years.
Saturday, September 19th arrived. I woke up that morning thinking that today might be ‘the day.’ I was almost right. At this point, Peanut’s birth story kicks in to high gear.
9:00 a.m.: Jack and I wake up and go to morning market in B-town. We walk (I waddle) from the market to Dunkin’ Donuts and back.
11:00ish: Jack drops me off to get my haircut. My hairdresser, Sharma, predicts I will have the baby by 3:00 p.m. He says I will have a boy. I leave there having some lower back pain that I’ve never had before. Hmmm…
2:00ish: I begin walking laps around the neighborhood. I’m feeling a bit uncomfortable and it just feels better to move. Braxton Hicks contractions, what else is new? I had been having those for weeks. I’m wearing my stopwatch just in case some real contractions started to come on. My neighbor asks if anything is happening, but I shake my head no.
5:30 p.m.: Resting on the couch. PANG. That’s a new feeling. I look at Jack and he reads me like an open book. A contraction for real. “Let’s go for a walk,” I say. “Bring the watch and bring a pen and paper to time these.” More walking around the block. Contractions (good ones, uf, taking my breath away) every 7-8 minutes. Feels best to be up and moving. We get home from our walk and call Mom and my mother-in-law, Kay. “This is it,” I tell them. I’m certain this is the pain that results in the birth of a baby. My mom, stepdad, brother and mother-in-law get in two separate cars to make the trip to B-town. In the meantime, Jack and I eat some dinner and watch a movie. Contractions are getting further and further apart (that’s not how it is supposed to go, is it?) but lasting longer and feeling, well, intense.
11:30 p.m.: The crew arrives to our house in B-town and we’re all excited. Adrenaline keeps us up and talking until about 12:30 a.m., at which point we all agree to get some sleep. Ha! Mom and Bill take the guest room, Kay takes the futon in the office, brother Alex on the couches downstairs. Peanut’s room is quiet. Our room is quiet but no one is sleeping. Contractions continue to spread further apart—one every fifteen minutes or so—but are lasting about a minute and a half. Every time I get close to nodding off, another one comes on. Writhing in bed, doing some yoga poses, trying out some of the labor positions we learned about in class. Keeping Jack up with how uncomfy I am but there is no empty room in the house for him to move to.
2:45 a.m.: Unable to sleep, I call the doctor. “Are the contractions 3-5 minutes apart yet, lasting a minute, for an hour?” “Um, no, but…” “Well, it’s better that you stay home and labor vs. labor in the hospital. Try and get some sleep. Maybe take a Sudafed to help you.” The doc moved quickly to the top of my list of least favorite people. Ever. Sleep? Sudafed? Is he serious?
5:45 a.m.: Still haven’t slept. Finally send Jack out for some Sudafed, heeding the doc’s advice. Take some and of course still unable to sleep. Contractions consistently coming, but still only every 15-20 minutes. Have no reason to believe they are going to get closer on their own as it has been 12 hours since labor started. What to do? Drink lots of water and labor some more.
8:00 a.m.: Give up on sleep and go downstairs. Now that I leave the room, Jack finally gets some sleep. Change up labor positions, etc., etc., put heat on my back for some relief. Serious back labor, ouch. Mom and Kay are ready to ring doc’s neck, as am I. Jack decides we are heading in to the hospital unannounced by noon if things don’t speed up. I do not disagree.
12:00 noon: Jack is not dealing well with me being uncomfy and in pain. At this point, I’m not sure I’m dealing any better. Load up hospital bags in car (how long had we waited to do that?) and take one last look around the house, which will never be the same. When we return with Peanut, our house will become a home. Five minute drive to the hospital (I love Bloomington) and never experience a contraction once. Do not get to scratch ‘Having contractions on car ride to hospital’ off bucket list.
12:15: Arrive to hospital exhausted. I check in, put gown on (does this thing come with instructions?). They hook me up to a bunch of IVs (I was Group B Strep positive). Doc checks me. Moment of truth: 100% effaced, 3 cm. dilated. 3cm? That’s it? After 17 hours of labor? Slightly (okay more like seriously) discouraged, but hey, I’m at the hospital now and I’m not going home without a Peanut. Party in our birthing suite. It’s Sunday, football’s on TV, but quite frankly I don’t give a damn. I can’t concentrate on anything but getting through contractions, still coming slow and steady. Only have eyes for Jack, who is the one capable of keeping me most calm. When he leaves the room to get a drink or something to eat, I pray he returns sooner than soon. Is this what it’s like to be grown up, to want your husband more than you want your mom? Mom holds my hand when Jack leaves, nods, she knows what I’m going through. “It’s worth it,” I could read in her eyes. She always knows what I need. She wants to take the pain away, but can’t.
3:00: Doc checks me. 4.5 cm dilated. Only 1.5 cm more than almost three hours before, are we serious? “What if we break your wa—?” “YES,” I tell him without giving him the chance to finish. “Do it.” Doc crochet needles me and whaddya know, contractions start coming, fast and furious. On one hand a relief, on the other hand I’m utterly spent. Swaying with Jack, changing positions then get up to go to the bathroom. Oh, so that’s what my mucous plug looks like? Finally, starting to experience all the things I read about. Pain is starting to become unmanageable. Time to make a decision about this…epidural, please!
5:00: Anesthesiologist arrives and I immediately feel better before he even does his magic. He’s so handsome! So dreamy! Or am I just excited to see him? Siiiiiigh of relief. Once all is said and done, they give me what I had been demanding for hours and hours…popsicles! I’m so relaxed I take a little snooze. When I wake up, one more member has joined the party: my dad. He made the trip from Cincy. Smile from ear to ear, the way only Dad can make me.
6:00-10:00: Time is flying. I’m parched. Drink water, water and more water. Epidural slowed things down a bit so they start a Pitocin drip and I can feel some sensations, but no pain. Glorious! Peanut’s motion, though, is becoming more muted and difficult to detect. They decide to empty my bladder. Take away tubs and tubs of liquid (must have had a dozen cups of ice chips and even more water)—now that all the liquid’s out, Peanut’s swishing around comes through loud and clear again. Doc checks me around 10:00. Fully dilated. Says he’s going to leave the room and come back in a few minutes to start pushing. !?! The entourage leaves the room—Jack and I want to be the only ones to welcome Peanut. I start to shiver. Am I cold or nervous? Terrified? All of the above? This is what we have been waiting la dulce espera for, why the fear and panic now? Because though life has been incredibly good to us, in this moment more than ever before we acknowledge it can be a cruel, cruel world out there…and we made the conscious decision to bring a little one into it. That’s pressure. How do we raise a child in this world? How do we teach Peanut from right and wrong? How do we help Peanut to make good choices? Crap, why didn’t we think of this stuff before? We look at one another and decide to pray. I do not know who Jack prays to, but I pray to la Virgen del Pilar. She never lets me down. Then, together, ‘Hail Mary, full of grace…’
10:25: Doc comes back into the room. Giants and Cowboys are playing in the background. Jack, Doc and nurse get me in the stirrups (P.S.—the only thing more humiliating than stirrups themselves is when your legs are numb and you need help getting in to them—but at least my toenails are painted a pretty red) and we review how pushing works—quite different from labor breathing, they remind me. I give it a go a time or two. Doc puts his gown on after two trial runs and says this is going to be quick. Contraction comes, puuuuuush. Another one, puuuuush. Again, I feel sensations but no pain. They dosed me up good! In between pushes, doc and Jack check on the game. I laugh—this is so much more relaxed than I imagined and I love it. Another contraction, puuuuush. Jack looks at me lovingly and nods, doc tells me I’m a champ. Jack is exactly what I need him to be, just like I knew he would be. Crowning, out comes Peanut’s head. Shoulders prove a more difficult pass, a bit of a tear (okay, a major one), but I do not notice. I cannot take my eyes off Jack as I see our child being born through his eyes. I fall more in love with him, and with the child I have yet to see. Shoulder one, slip. Shoulder two, slip.
10:41 p.m.: I feel a great sense of pressure relieved and I hear Peanut cry, the sound I have dreamed of. I look to Jack, Jack looks to doc. Doc says “Call it, Dad.” Jack takes a glance, stunned. “Happy Birthday, Joseph Anthony.” They place his warm and slippery body on my chest. A more blessed feeling I will never know. All I could say over and over through tears is “He’s perfect.” Beautiful. Enormous hands and feet, nuzzles up to my neck. He was born to fit there. Welcome to the world, great big boy! J.A.G., just like his Daddy, 8 lbs., 3 oz., 21 inches.
Joseph is the boy I always wanted and I tell him so every day. My sunshine Joe, Big Bro Joe, Joselito, my bestest boy and biggest helper. I love waking up to him charging through our bedroom door like a bull in a china shop—he is 100% boy—thundering over to my side of the bed, with police car PJs on and Curious George hanging on to his hand for dear life (if that monkey could talk, the stories he would tell of his and Joe’s adventures!). I love how when we go downstairs for breakfast, I have to navigate my way through a sea of balls, cars, legos and magnets to reach the kitchen island, and when I ask him what he wants for breakfast he says with gusto “Chock. Lit. MINI. WHEATS!” I love how much fun he has on bath night when we get him undressed and let him run down the hall screaming and naked (it’s the simple things!). I love how after bedtime stories when I ask him who he wants to pray for, his first choice is either his Daddy, his sister or me. Makes me feel like even after all the parenting mistakes we might make in a day, we are doing something, if just one thing, right. Even when—especially when—he pushes my buttons like only a little boy can, I look into his deep and old-soul eyes and I see my Peanut. I can’t help but smile.