I found out that my Petely was coming along in August 2004, early in my second month of blogging. I blogged about the pregnancy test, the nausea, the uncertainty that attended my husband's job change, our move to Gladlyville, the conflagration of nesting energy that swept me through unpacking. I blogged about all of the false labor that plagued me during April 2005. I was watching the saints calendar and timing contractions. Elwood, let's name the baby Stanislaus! Elwood, what do you think about Conrad? Adalbert? (N.B. I was never going to name a baby Adalbert. The baby's name was going to be Benedict. We'd agreed on it in August.)
On my due date I sank into a quagmire of late-pregnancy wackadoodlery. April 19, 2005: Cardinal Ratzinger was elected pope and STOLE MY BABY'S NAME. And ALL OF MY PREGNANT FRIENDS HAD DELIVERED THEIR BABIES. Seriously, my friend Anneleisa called my on April 19 to say that our dear mutual friend had delivered a healthy baby -- and I started to cry. I was trying very hard not to cry audibly, because I knew it was kind of jerky to cry about the arrival of a healthy baby, but I also knew that I was destined to be pregnant until the END OF TIME. I began to ignore every rumble from my uterus. "Talk to me when you've got something worth my time, girlfriend," I told it.
Over the next interminable week it became obvious to me that my baby would arrive on April 28. The other boys' birthdays fell on the 29th, 30th, and 31st of various months. What other solution could there possibly be to my perpetual pregnancy? (If you had suggested that I could also keep the pattern going with a birth on the first of May, I would have been compelled to smack you. You would have deserved it, too.) So when I began to be aware that my uterus had a message that might eventually merit some attention, I knew that I had plenty of time. It was only the 27th.
I was puzzled about why I found my children so irritating when we drove to Elwood's office to pick him up from work. (Dear Past Jamie: driving a car while six centimeters dilated = a bad idea.) I was even more irritated with my MIL when she came to pick the kids up after we returned home. (Dear Past Jamie: seven centimeters is not the time for chitchat.) I was worried about getting into the tub-- it was too early, I shouldn't need the pain relief yet. (Dear Past Jamie: not too early.) When Elwood patted me on the arm as I gasped in relief in the tub, he said, "If you have the baby tonight we'll have to have another one so we can hit the 28th." There was a definite edge in my voice as I said, "Don't talk to me about that right now." "Oh, man," I thought to myself, "why am I being mean to my husband when he is just trying to be comforting?"
Dear Past Jamie: don't fret. The midwife is almost there, and when she arrives you will vault out of the bathtub and over to the couch so she can examine you. "My fingers are stretching, stretching," she will say. "Eight, almost nine." This will not compute. You will think for a moment that perhaps Gladlyville midwives use different non-centimeter units, because it is not possible for you to be almost nine centimeters dilated. But then you will laugh out loud with surprise and delight, because you are almost nine centimeters dilated. Of course you were irritated! If ever a person wanted to induce his usually mild-mannered wife to act like a rage-filled ravenous praying mantis, he would talk to her about future childbirth during transition! Luckily for Elwood, you were too busy preparing to expel a human being from your body to seize his head in your jaws and tear it from his neck.
(Maybe, based on my last two birth experiences, I should write a book about childbirth pain management techniques. I will call it Ignore Your Labor For As Long As Possible And Then A Little Bit Longer Because It Will Seem Much Shorter That Way. It will be a bestseller, I am certain.)
Once I knew that I wasn't being a big whiny baby, I settled in to do the work willingly. It was a lovely cozy birth -- such fond memories. And spring is the very best time of year to have a baby. He was such a sweet snuggly little guy -- we all enjoyed the heck out of him. Here he is with my mom at a few days old:
This year he didn't want to plan a party with friends. All four grandparents will be here this weekend for Stella's First Communion, and I have promised to bake a spectacular cake for a joint celebration. For today we agreed on a quiet family evening. He and I picked up Stella at school, and the three of us headed down to the garden store. We spent a happy hour talking about plans and plants, and every time he said, "Could we get this?" I said yes. (He is a frugal kid, so this was a winning strategy. It wouldn't have worked for all of my children.)
We came home and squatted down together by the herb garden. We put paid to the creeping charlie and planted parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme, along with lemongrass and mint. He has persuaded me that should elongate the herb beds (surprise, Elwood!), but that's a project for another day. We also have marigolds and pansies and dusty millers, and a new shade-loving thing that will look lovely next to the dusty millers, and a rainbow of petunias -- a riot of color awaiting our attention tomorrow.
For dinner we ate at a teppanyaki place for the first time in years. Onion volcanoes erupted in flames and broccoli bits-turned-projectiles soared across the grill and into our mouths (well, mostly down our shirtfronts -- our guy's aim was not the best). I'm still full. And I'm still grateful. I think I'll always be grateful.