About two weeks into my bed rest the words “stir crazy” took on a whole new meaning. I was craving contact with the outside world and sadly I had none. I began to think of the people on soap opera’s as my friends and would refer to them that way in daily conversation with Jon.
At first he thought I had visitors until I mentioned how one of them had come back from the dead to find out that the baby she’d had when she was dying was actually not hers. For a moment he’d thought I had begun drinking. I assured him that while it was tempting the whole point of this was to get that baby “safely” to full term…not kill it with fetal alcohol syndrome.
I finally stopped talking to him about the most recent story lines on Young and the Restless or Bold and the Beautiful and instead focused on baby names. I had nothing else to do but name this unknown sex of a child. I became obsessed with having a girl name and a boy name. Jon thought I was taking preparedness to a WHOLE new neurotic level. I didn’t care.
Deciding a girls name seemed far easier than settling on a boy name. We had it narrowed down to Bailey and Hannah. Early on in my pregnancy we had been out to dinner and there was a woman calling her little girl and her name was Hannah. The little girl came bounding round the corner with curls and these gianormous blue eyes. It stuck in my head. Jon agreed if this little bean was a girl it would be a Hannah Michel.
Finally, after all the things going NOT according to plan we had managed to check one thing off our list. It didn’t seem to matter that we had no idea what we were having, nor did we have a crib or half the stuff actually required to care for the baby…we had a name which covered at least half our chances in the sex of the child department. We took what we could get.
My only outings during this period of bed rest were to the doctors and my reward for cooking this kid was ultrasounds. Our first ultrasound after the hospital stay was when we got to know what we were having. I remember going through the water torture and thinking wouldn't it be cool if this time we could actually see something. Ya know like something other than the fluttering heart, the feet or that magnificent profile. All that was great don’t get me wrong but I’m not gonna lie to you….I wanted the money shot!
My bladders hard work was rewarded. After measuring the head, then the spine, then the femur the sonographer turned to Jon and I and asked the question that every parent to be is asked, "do you want to know the sex?" Jon's eyes lit up and for a second I had to remind him that she did not indeed ask if he had wanted to have sex. You gotta remember he had been banned from any sexual contact for the past few weeks and now he wasn't gonna get anything until I made it to 35 weeks or until after this baby made it's grand entrance. The word sex in any context made him giddy.
Once I got him back on track we both agreed that yes, we did want to know. The room seemed intensely quiet and it was like the words came out in slow motion, "congratulations...it's a boy".
I was ecstatic. A boy. We would have one girl and one boy. Jon just sat there smiling. First he knew the baby was healthy and now a boy. It was a good day.
I was excused to pee and then we left. The whole ride home and every moment there after was spent really focusing on boy names.
A boy. We were going to have a boy. It seemed so surreal.
I immediately had to shut down Jon on his suggestions that we name this child after one of the Manning brothers. Or possibly both…hmmm??
Jon: Babe...what do you think of the name Peyton??
Me: Really, babe? Peyton?? Our last name is Pettus. You want to name our child Peyton Pettus?
Me: Why don’t we just name him Pee Pee.
Jon: (clearly NOT getting it) Or how about Eli?
Me: I like Eli...but...hmm...why do those names sound familiar?
Jon: (smiling as though he may just get away with this) Yeah babe we could name the baby Peyton Eli Pettus.
Me: PEP…naaa…I don’t think so. But seriously why do I know those names?
Jon: Maybe you went to school with someone that had similar names?
Me: No, no...I remember hearing those names very recently...like on t.v. or in the paper...why do I know those names? (trying to rack my pregnancy brain)
Jon: Don't worry about it. So what do you think...Peyton Eli Pettus? Sounds good right? Rolls right off the tongue?
Me: Wait a minute. Do mean like Peyton and Eli Manning?? You seriously want to name our child after football players?
Jon: (trying not to laugh) NO! No...I just like the names. So you agree on it right?
Me: I am NOT naming my child after football players. What's next you'll suggest we name him after your favorite baseball player’s.
Jon: (looking semi intrigued…but unwilling to open his mouth)
Me: I am NOT...repeat NOT going to be the mother of little Sosa McGuire Pettus. Do you hear me??
Jon: Yeah. I hear you.
I became a fanatic about names. I had nothing else to occupy my time. I clung to anything that could possibly get me through the long and lonely hours laid up in bed or on the couch.
I refused to be one of those woman that I dealt with at work that had to consult tea leaves or tried to sneak out of the hospital without naming their child.
Honestly I had a woman tell me as she was being wheeled past my office on the way to her vehicle with newborn in hand that “indeed in the state of Florida you have up to one year from the date of delivery to name your child”…I never looked it up because well…that is just downright insane. I would not be bringing home “Baby Boy Pettus”…this baby would have a name come hell or high water!
Not only was I crazed about names. I was worried about initials. How would it look on a monogrammed towel down the road? After being concerned about that I also found myself obsessing about how a name can be shortened. For example…loved the name William…not so much in love with the name Bill or Will!
Every name I came across in books would seem okay at first but then when I ran it through my litany of criteria…was it unique, but not weird? Did it flow with our last name? Could it be shortened into something vulgar? I mean in all seriousness do you really think the first person that ever named their kid Richard thought down the road to the day their kid would be called Dick?? I think not.
Then I’d have to deal with Jon and these random kicks he would get on. For example there was the day he was on his Russian kick…
Me: I was looking in the baby books and I just don’t see any names that speak to me. How bout you?
Jon: I like Vlad.
Jon: Or Viktor. But it has to be spelled with a "k" instead of a "c"...it's more Russian that way.
Me: You do know that WE are NOT Russian, right?? Like..our heritage is NOT in the least bit Russian? You do honestly get that right?
Jon: Why so negative?
Me: I'm not negative. I just think there should be some thought behind a child's name.
Jon: I am putting thought behind it. I just watched "The Saint" with Val Kilmer and they had all these Russian names....oooohhhh...wait...what about Ivan.
Me: No. Come on. Seriously??
Jon: Or Mikal? Yeah..yeah...I like Mikal.
Me: Like Barrishnakov?
Me: Have you been drinking?
Every name discussion ended the exact same way. Him frustrated that I wouldn’t “just consider” naming our child Skeletor Megatron Pettus and me wishing I could slit my wrist with the baby name books. It was agony.
Another couple weeks passed and we found ourselves back at the doctors. I was a day or so shy of 33 weeks. The heartbeat was strong. I hadn’t been contracting over the 4 weeks that I had been home from the hospital. Baby’s head was no longer down, so the doctor was willing to reduce my captivity but only by allowing me to be on my feet a whole 2 hours per day with no more than 30 minutes at one time. Party time.
We asked if there would be another ultrasound because he’d said he wanted to perform them every 2 weeks, which would equal a total of 3 over the 6 weeks until I made it to the magic number of 35. He said it wasn’t necessary this time but we could revisit it at the next appointment.
I celebrated my new found 30 minute freedom by taking a LONG shower when I got home from the doctors. But later I found myself craving another ultrasound. A baby shower had been planned and the nursery was taking shape. The little one was moving all the time, but I desperately wanted to see him again.
I had turned into an ultra sound addict. Here I had been sorta kinda…in my crazy mind… promised another 2 ultra sounds and now it was a “maybe”…”we’ll see”…at best. Oh hell no…I’m a mother. I know what “maybe” and “we’ll see” means…it’s code for NO, not gonna happen but I’m gonna say this BS answer and hope that you don’t throw a fit here in Target and make me look like Mommy Dearest.
I had no choice… I went straight to my dad and whined.
He worked for a hospital across the bay in Tampa and he just happened to be in the radiology department. Perfect. I began to court him with the idea of getting one of his people to do an ultra sound. Not for any diagnostic purposes. We just wanted to see him again. I couldn’t bank on a maybe…I needed a definite.
This was before the days of the 3-D ultra sound places that you could just go to and get a stunning picture of your soon to be cuddly baby. No, this was 1999 and I was at the utter mercy of the ultra sound nazi’s as I viewed it. I wasn't basing things on chance...I was taking control of this situation. So far this seemed to be the only thing, outside of choosing names, that I indeed could control. I felt drunk with power.
A week later I got my way and we were watching our little boy on the medium sized screen. We left that day with pics in hand and I became even more convinced that I needed a name. Not just any name. A great name. A name with meaning.
I went from crazed to obsessed to completely looney over picking the perfect name. I was stuck on the name Leighton for some reason. Jon was completely against it. He didn’t just dislike it…he downright hated it.
We agreed that we wanted to steer clear of any “J” names. With me being Jessica and him being Jon we didn’t want Olivia to feel left out. Especially since she didn’t share the same last name.
Next name I became obsessed with was Riley. Then Rory. Jon shot them both down. Citing too girly for Riley and "seriously what the fuck have you been smoking" I believe was the exact kiss off for Rory.
Finally one day I remembered a patient that had a little girl shortly after I started working in the birth records department. She also had a little boy and his first name was Garren. They were English and the poor kid had about six names in total, plus his last name. There was something about that name that just stuck with me.
I was hesitant to bring it up to Jon. I was running out of unique, non weird, can't be shortened into vulgar or pansy ass get your kids butt kicked on the playground kind of names.
He’d shot down every other name that I seemed to fall in love with. I tried to find it in one of the millions of baby name books that we owned but I couldn’t. I thought maybe if I casually put it in front of him and he stumbled upon it he’d bring it up to me and I’d be all “good job babe…I LOVE it”…he’d feel all proud and at last we would have a name.
It became abundantly clear that this scenario would not be occurring. So I bit the bullet and threw it out there.
Me: Hey babe?
Me: I found a name that I like.
Jon: Okay…what is it?
Me: (deep breath) Garren.
Jon: Hmmm…not bad.
Me: Really?? You like it?
Jon: Yeah…yeah I do.
Me: Oh my god…we just picked out our baby’s name.
Jon: Are you crying?
Me: (sniffing) No.
Jon: Are you happy that we have a name now.
Me: (trying to non chalantly wipe at my eyes and still sniffing) Yes.
Jon: Good. Now what is the middle name gonna be?
Me: (completely deflated) Crap.
Jon: How bout Peyton or Eli?
Me: (staring at him as if I can actually KILL him with my eyes)
Jon: I’ll take that as a no.
Now that we had a first name it was time to select the middle name. Really, how hard could this be? Apparently I had not closely examined how long it took us to select the first name. Stupid, stupid girl.
Immediately we were drawn to the name Alexander. Of course that flew out the window when I realized his initials would be GAP and his monogram would be GPA. Fail.
Then I thought maybe we should choose a name from the family. Jon agreed that trying to honor his father, who had passed away in 1994, was out of the question seeing as our choices would be Lester or Clinus. Epic fail.
Finally we settled on acknowledging my dad, Jesse. I was one of three girls and thus there was no one to carry on the family name. I adore my dad, especially since he is my step-dad and he came on the scene when I was at the unruly age of 11. He put up with a lot of my shit and I thought giving my son his name as a middle name would be a great way to say how much I loved and appreciated him.
We sat on the name for 2 more weeks. We had made it to 35! Another doctor’s appointment brought the blessed news that I could indeed be free of any restraints. If this little tyke wanted to come out and play they were on board. The doctor told us to enjoy our remaining time and keep him apprised of any problems. He would see me back in a two weeks if not sooner for problems or possibly in hospital for delivery.
We went over to the hospital to register and sign up for Lamaze classes. Since I wasn’t a newcomer to this rodeo we took a three night class. Kind of like the Cliff’s Notes of Labor & Delivery. We also called my parents and asked to take them out to dinner. It was time to unveil our name.
A few nights later we met at one of our favorite restaurants and with just my mom, dad and sister we spoke the baby’s name for the first time outside of our home.
Me: Well, we wanted to invite you here tonight so we could tell you that we selected a name.
Mom: That’s great. What is it?
Me: Jon do you wanna do the honors?
Jon: No, babe…it’s all you.
Me: (getting kind of misty eyed cause I’m a pregnant ball of hormonal emotions) Dad, are you listening?
Dad: Yeah. I’m listening. You wanna tell us the name for the baby?
Me: Okay…it’s Garren Jesse Pettus.
--- S I L E N C E ---
Me: (looking nervously at Jon and trying not to cry)
Jon: (looking at me trying to figure out why the hell I’m gonna cry)
Olivia: I have to pee.
Me: Is anyone going to say ANYTHING about the name of this baby?
Olivia: I like it. I have to pee.
Me: Ok. Is anyone else that hasn’t heard this name for the past two weeks gonna say anything about the name of this baby?
Olivia: I really have to pee.
Me: Yeah. I heard ya. Cole (my baby sister) I’ll give you $1 if you take her.
My sister thankfully escorts my cross legged child to the restroom and I attempt to not kill my parents with the steak knife resting in front of me.
Me: Okay. (becoming slightly shrill) One more time…is ANYONE…preferably the SOMEONE whose name is being used…going to comment on the name of the baby?
Dad: You only get called by your middle name when you are in trouble. This kid is gonna hate me.
UGH….this whole name shit sucks.
We left dinner and that night while we laid in bed I finally did cry. I was hurt. I wanted so badly to honor my dad, but strangely…he did have a point. I couldn’t bare to go back to the name selection game. We were now rounding into the 36 week mark and I was convinced this kid was coming at any second.
Jon agreed that whether it was used just as a name on the birth certificate or to scold the child when he acted out of turn, we knew what it meant to us in our hearts. So Garren Jesse Pettus was this baby’s name. I placed my hands on my overgrown belly and felt a kick. I concluded that the baby agreed and it wasn’t a topic of discussion again.
Now all that was left to do was get him here so we could meet him face to face…how hard could that be...