Two posts ago I covered the highlights of Esther’s pregnancy, but there is more story to tell—a lot more. I split this post into two parts to make it easier to read. Hey, it worked for Quentin Tarantino in Kill Bill I and II.
For me, one of the joys of pregnancy was creating something that’s part Esther and part me. Certain things, like who the baby resembles were obvious immediately, (our friends started with the sonograms) other traits like habits, temperament, and personality may take years. It started for me upon being given the baby’s due date.
Esther comes from a strong gene pool, so I knew Baby Priegue would look like her. Just go to a Santiago family event—there are mini-mes everywhere. I was ok with that, I fell in love with that pretty face (other things too but I’m getting sidetracked).
Upon receiving an October 1st due day my mind, and sarcasm started racing. My brother and I are both punctual—we get that from Dad. Dad got twitchy if we weren’t early for family gatherings—many times we arrived for weddings while the waiters were setting the room up.
Esther has many wonderful traits but punctuality isn’t one of them. Let’s meet at six means arrive at six not leave home at six. My theory was if Cornelius (just checking to see if you are paying attention) was born before October 1st, he’d take after me and Esther if he was born after the 1st.
Let’s cover some highlights before this post gets too long.
Nesting-Described by Parenting Weekly.com as “an uncontrollable urge to clean one’s house brought on by a desire to prepare a nest for the new baby, to tie up loose ends of old projects and to organize your world.” I guess Esther’s been nesting since I met her. After Labor Day we worked on the nursery, translation Esther planned the layout and design and I moved furniture back and forth, and back again and again.
The Baby Bag(s)-In early September we each packed a “baby bag” and left them in my car. Two bags quickly became four—yes we both overpack. The bags were packed and repacked after last September’s Indian Summer. I spent the month figuring out how to sneak Chico into our hospital room. He fits in the big bag, doesn’t he?
Belly’s Everywhere-Our building had five new babies last year, including our next-door neighbors Shawn and Nika. We met them, five-years ago when Chico walked right into their apartment as they were moving in. They married a month before we did and had their daughter Sydney Rose a month after Cristian was born. Shawn and I shared more than a few beers while the women compared notes on all things pregnancy. How does another cold one sound Shawn?
More Humor-Esther’s OB/GYN was Raveco Medical, whose primary physicians are husband and wife Doctors Steven and Claudia Ravins. Besides being excellent doctors their sense of humor appealed to me. Claudia was the first one who got the Cornelius reference, without it being explained. When I joked about videotaping the baby’s birth so we could show him in a few years when he asks, “where did I come from,” Steven played along, joking about strapping a Go Pro Camera around his forehead during the delivery. Esther’s response, usually with her legs in the stirrups was always the same, “Hello remember me? The patient.” For the record, we didn’t record Cristian’s birth, something about therapy being expensive.
Not So Smooth Sailing- Although the pregnancy was pretty smooth—we had a few scares along the way. About four months in, Esther fell down a few steps, requiring a trip to the emergency room. It turned out to be nothing, but I remember the baby’s pissed off look on the screen during the sonogram. Late in the pregnancy, she developed a skin condition called PUPS, an itchy uncomfortable rash on her legs.
Our biggest scare came during an early-morning appointment. Claudia was concerned with the baby’s heartrate—it was too low. After trying to raise her blood sugar level with ginger ale, served in a champagne flute, didn’t get the desired result Esther was sent for a carb-rich breakfast. It turned out to be a false alarm, but after months on a strict diet, doctor’s orders never tasted so good.
The Walking Tour-The baby kept growing as late September faded into October, but Esther wasn’t dilating. Trying to stimulate contractions the doctors suggested extensive walking—three hours’ worth every night. It was Esther’s first intense activity since her last 5K race in July. Keeping it interesting, we walked a different park every day. We walked Cunningham Park, Flushing Meadows Park, Kissena Park, Central Park, and Prospect Park as well as touring Fresh Meadows, Flushing, Howard Beach, Jamaica Estates, and Malba, but it didn’t help.
It’s Go Time-After 41 weeks and much discomfort Esther was ready to pop, but the baby wasn’t cooperating. On our way to yet another doctor’s appointment, she vented. “As soon as we get there, I’m telling him, Induce me or C-Section me, I’m ready.” I was surprised when she repeated this verbatim to Steven. Without missing a beat, he replied, “How about tonight?”
After a few phone calls, he told us to be at the hospital at 8 pm, so they could start inducing. This gave us a few hours to tie up some loose ends. Leaving the doctor’s office, Esther called her sister and nephew, asking them to meet us at Applebee’s for her “last meal.” When the meal was done, two-year-old Justin launched into a wicked tantrum. Foreshadowing, I wondered. Looking at Esther, I said, “Too late to turn back now. Let’s go.”