33 Years Ago

May 1986

I ran to the doctor to take a pregnancy test, not getting my hopes up. For over a year I had been trying to get pregnant and so far, nothing. The doctor had warned that this might not come easy for me and I was beginning to worry.

I had to run back to work and my job didn’t like personal phone calls. I knew asking for patient information, etc would send up red flags to the people who worked at the desks beside me in our tiny shared office. I asked Tim to call the doctor for the results, I had left instructions at the doctor’s that they could share the news with him.

When he called to give me the news, that the test was positive and we were having a baby, my first thought was, “Oh my Lord, what have we done!?”

I never had been a big fan of kids. I didn’t have baby cousins, I hadn’t even been a babysitter and I was clueless exactly how to raise a child. Those wobbly heads and tiny bodies scared the crap out of me. What had I done indeed?

August 1986

Tim won a promotional trip to Hawaii! Although I was almost 5 months pregnant, I packed a maternity swimsuit and a bunch of mumus and I was ready for the 9 hour flight from Atlanta to Honolulu.

I wasn’t really showing yet, people keep asking me if I was really expecting. The maternity clothes I took were more my eagerness to look pregnant than a real need.

On arrival, we were told to try to stay awake until bedtime there, no matter what our bodies might feel. Although I had had no pregnancy sickness, I WAS tired all of the time. Jet lag just added to the exhaustion I constantly felt.

We tried to follow the advice and headed to an only slightly early dinner. When Tim looked up to find me face down in the lovely salad, enhanced with blossoms, he knew I would never make it until bedtime.

I got through the trip until the last day when I should have gone to see my cousin who was stationed in Hawaii. Instead, I spent most of the day in bed, totally worn out from the jeep rides, side trips, and exploring the beaches and jungles of the islands.

When we arrived home after an all night flight, I went straight back to bed as Tim headed back to work. I slept for nearly 24 hours before I began to feel slightly human again.

Sunday, January 25, 1987

I was well past my due date, which was fine. I was huge, having gained nearly 65 pounds in the last 4 months! When the doctor begged me to start eating more after our trip, I took him at his word. Every ice cream and fried chicken (not together) craving I had, I fed.

Just as my due date of January 16 approached, I was sick. My doctor, who had been very thorough but not the warm and fuzzy person you might want during this time, suddenly became my best friend as he realized I had pneumonia just as my due date was arriving. After what medicine he felt the baby and I could tolerate and some time, I began to feel better- I was so relieved that I did not go into labor during my illness.

I had told the doctor from the beginning that I was going to have a boy. The one sonogram that I had was inconclusive so the doctor was betting on a girl because of that and the heart rate. But from the moment I found out I was pregnant, I knew it was a boy and no test would change my mind.

I also knew that he would be born on a Tuesday, just as I had been. I even bet with Tim months before about the day of the week our child would be born. I took Tuesday and gave Tim every other day of the week. Those were pretty good odds in Tim’s mind.

On this particular Sunday afternoon, Tim decided to cook dinner. He made a pot of very spicy chili, hoping that it would put me into labor. I ate a little and then went to bed early.

Monday, January 26, 1987

About 4:00 in the morning I woke up to a dull pain in my side. I adjusted myself in the bed and fairly soon, the ache went away. By the time I got up around 8, I had had another odd discomfort that went away as quickly as it came. All during the day, the strange pain would hit me and then dissipate.

After dinner, leftover chili from the night before, Tim went into the living room to watch a made for TV movie about Lyndon B. Johnson starring Randy Quaid. I went to the bedroom, not feeling well at all. The odd pains were a little closer together and more intense.

I felt like I had been pregnant for years, to the point that I thought I just would stay pregnant forever. It really wasn’t dawning on me that all of the discomfort that had plagued me all day could be labor. Leftover feelings from having had pneumonia? Possibly. Heartburn from Tim’s leftover chili? Probably. Labor from the child that was well overdue by then? Didn’t really register. Until suddenly it did.

When something new happened, I immediately called the doctor to ask if maybe it was time. At this point it was about 9:30 pm. The doctor said that indeed it seemed like it was time and to head to the hospital.

I got my bag that I had prepared months before and walked into the living room to tell Tim it was time to go. He looked at me with a tad of annoyance and asked if it could wait just a little while, his movie was almost over. I sat and waited, watching him watch LBJ.

When we got in the car it was well after 10 and there was not a lot of traffic. One of the first traffic lights we came to was red and Tim quickly looked both ways and ran it. I asked him why all of a sudden he was in hurry. He said he was hoping to get pulled over so he could say, “My wife is in labor!!” like on TV. I gave him “the look” and he carefully drove the rest of the way to St. Vincent’s Hospital.

All through the night, I was poked and prodded. Before it was over I had monitors and wires on every part of me. You learn, as a woman in labor, to give up on any modesty or privacy you ever had. Every shred of dignity is taken away from you to the point that you feel that every person who walks in the door wants to raise the sheet and take a look. For someone who is as modest as I am, it is a true struggle.

During the night, Tim and I had our first introduction to home shopping. The choices on TV as Monday turned to Tuesday were very limited. In changing channels, Tim found a home shopping channel and we were amazed and entertained by the strange things for sale. It wouldn’t be until we were trapped by a snow storm years later that we would make our first purchase from a shopping channel, but the novelty of this new form of entertainment distracted us as the night wore on and nothing happened.

Tuesday, January 27, 1987

As night turned to daylight, Tim decided that nothing was happening so he would go by the house, take a shower and change, then go to work to check on things and then come back to the hospital.

I had been given an epidural when the pains got worse and closer together during the night, but was not really progressing, so the doctor seemed OK with Tim leaving. I am not so sure that I was good with it, but as the years go by you forget the pain of labor AND the irritation with your spouse. I slept occasionally since the pain was managed and watched some TV.

Finally Tim was back, the doctor came by and the process began. It was long and drawn out and I had no idea what in the world I was doing. The doctor finally said that he would have to operate and left the room. I was devastated. At this point let me say that I know lots of people, including my mother, who had C- sections. It is not a badge of honor either way when it comes to having your baby safely- you have to do what is best for you and your child.

When the doctor came back I asked if I could try one more time on my own to push out this kid and he said yes, but that when he came back we were not waiting any more. He stepped out to check on something and when he came back, he was amazed that I was finally ready be taken to a delivery room. I knew that not only was my son about to be born on Tuesday, so I would win my bet with Tim, but after nearly 36 hours of labor, I was going to have my child on the same day and practically the same time of day as when I was born.

The whole “giving birth” thing is etched in my mind as if it happened yesterday. I won’t go into details but it wasn’t an easy process. When the doctor finally said, “It’s a boy” I felt relief, happiness, and smugness that not only had I been right about it being a boy, but that he was born on Tuesday as predicted. He also entered the world at 4:40pm only 20 minutes later than I had been born at 4:20.

I was in the delivery room a long time as they pieced me back together, but Tim was able to carry Jon out to show our family. My father in law, who I had promised over and over that this child was a boy, was the first to hear Tim say, “Well, we got us another mechanic.” (You and I both know a girl could be a mechanic, and we also now know Jon isn’t a mechanic, but I can not rewrite history- they said what they said!)

When I was finally able to be moved to a room after a lot of sewing, (the doctor assured me he was not making a quilt behind the drape that shielded my vision of what he was indeed doing) I was wheeled down the hall exclaiming to anyone who would listen that I had just given birth to the first member of the basketball team I planned to produce. Again, I was a) drugged, b) foreshadowing that Jon would be tall and c) very wrong since Jon would be an only child and a football player.

After a few phone calls that I should not have answered in my drugged state, I finally went to sleep. The next day the insurance company wanted me discharged but the doctor said that with all of the stitches he had put in me he did not want me leaving. My father in law walked in to check on me just as the nurse said that I had to leave. My father in law asked me if I wanted to leave and I told him the doctor had said I absolutely should not leave. My father in law left the room and came back soon to say I could stay- he had handled it. He became my hero that day. The nurse soon followed saying that I indeed could stay, but that since Jon was perfectly healthy, he had to go!

I love Tim, but I was not about to send a one day old baby home alone with him. I had no idea what to do with a newborn and I knew Tim knew even less. I figured it would take both of us together if Jon stood a chance! The hospital then said Jon could stay, but we would have to pay out of our own pocket for his extra days. Never have we spent money so well but with such disbelief at having to spend it at all!

Finally, 48 hours later, we took our bundle of joy home with us and life has never been the same. With three years of marriage behind us, we were as ready as we were ever going to be to change our lives and add this special, new human being. At 30 years old we were old enough to handle what life would bring but not so old that we were too tired to survive it.

Every day has been fun and each stage has been exciting. We have had adventures and stories that I can not imagine living without. We have given up some things in order to be there for Jon in ways many parents don’t get the opportunity to be. We have traveled around the country with choirs and football teams, we have been there for the special times in his friends lives as well as his. I have driven home with the windows open on cold days because of the smell of football players in the car and I have climbed ladders in the dark to put up back drops for his show choir.

There have been days much harder than the 36 hours of labor led me to believe and joy that I could never have anticipated in my life. I have realized so many times that the same day and hour of birth between my son and I foreshadowed how alike we would be, often ganging up on Tim and yet, I see things in Jon that I know are nothing like anything I can or have done or thought.

It has been the adventure of a lifetime and although I never really thought about kids and didn’t like to play with dolls as a small girl, I am so grateful that I got to have this once in a lifetime experience.

Thirty three years is a really long time, and there were days I thought would never end, but overall it has seemed like a blink of an eye between the day I heard “It’s a boy” and today.

When the doctor said, “It’s a boy”, a louder voice that no one else heard said in my ear, “Teach him to leave.” I knew in that instant that no matter what else I did, I had to raise a good human who should learn to take care of himself, use every gift he had been given, and have good common sense. I knew in that moment that if I did nothing else, I had to show Jon how to be a responsible member of society who cared for others more than himself, but had the confidence to take care of himself as well.

I didn’t get it right most of the time, but with the help of Tim and many others who were there for us and for Jon, I think he turned out pretty good.

A much younger friend told me the other day that they knew they would miss the phase their two year old was in right now, but they couldn’t wait to miss the phase their two year old was in! I told them that I understood. Every phase has a little of that “why won’t they just grow past this” in it and a then a lot of “man, I wish I could stop time” thrown in. I told them to enjoy every phase as it came because it would change soon enough. At the time I gave that advice I was about to see my child get married and I thought a little two year old craziness sounded kind of fun and amazing!

I have done the best I could and the product, the person Jon has become, is what I am most proud of in life. So- Happy Birthday, Jon. I love you.


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Marietta is a graduate of the University of Montevallo with a BFA in musical theater. She has been performing for over 50 years on the stage and continues to perform, direct and teach. Marietta is married to Tim, has a son named Jon, and a cat named Penny.