Sunday, January 20, 2013

I almost burnt my house down.....over a burrito.

When I was very, very pregnant with Vanessa, I almost burnt my new house down.....over a burrito.

During my whole first pregnancy, we were in the midst of building our brand new house. We were living on the property while it was being built, and were acting as our own general contractors, and subbing out the work as budget allowed. The running joke was, that as soon as I saw ground breaking at the new house site, it was the green light to try and start to have a baby. It was no joke though, I was very serious about that, and to Jeremy's surprise, it happened very quickly. I was 25, and chomping at the bit to start our family. I always knew I wanted young bunnies in my twenties, and now that we could house them, darn it, I wanted to fill that house by the time I was 30. Jeremy took a little time to come around to my master plan, dragging his feet a bit, but was at least willing to start.

We moved into our new house when I was about five months pregnant, just at the time when bending down and tying shoes was something you really had to think about before you did it. Very slowly, the house started to come to shape, at the pace of a very pregnant moving crew. Bit by bit, we started to nest, and the last few months was spent getting used to the new sounds, smells, and stairs of the new digs. To this day, new carpet fresh drywall,  the smell of 2x4's, the aroma of a new house, brings to mind that 25 year old pregnant girl, and the feelings she was feeling. Scared, excited, dreamy, terrified.

This was all happening fresh post 9/11, and it's repercussions were starting to ripple across the states. By the time December rolled around, right before Christmas, on a Friday, Jeremy received a pink slip along with the hundreds of other Boeing employees. Sweeping lay-offs. The air industry was in trouble, and the cuts were deep and swift.

New house. New baby. No job.

We were shaken, but not to the point of a total freak out. Okay, well maybe a little.  His last day was at the end-ish of January, and we had insurance for a while thereafter, so we had a bit of time to think, think, think.  By mid-January we had baby on the brain, and that was all I could worry about. I had no room to worry about much else. No job worry would have to wait.

Vanessa's due date wasn't until early February, but by the beginning of January, I knew she was going to be early. I was a water balloon ready to pop, the timer was about to chime, forget about tying those shoes, I'll go barefoot....carry me? Jeremy's last day at Boeing was fast approaching, and I felt like any day was going to be THE day, and he had his pager (yes, a pager!! how old school) strapped to his hip ready to be the one to break up with Boeing, not the other way around. Which would come first, the last day? or the baby? Dude, catch you later. I'm having a BABY! (Actually, it was almost a tie breaker. He had to go to work only one last day after Vanessa was born)

On a Friday in late January, about eleven years ago, I was getting ready for lunch, or maybe a snack... never mind,  I was just HUNGRY, so I waddled into the kitchen to make myself a burrito. As I was making it, I thought, "Now, wouldn't this burrito be better, fried??? like in butter and oil? With a crispy skin on the outside? Melty cheese in the middle?" The drool dripping off my chin onto my pregnant belly meant yes, yes it would. Just as I got one side crisped, there was honking in the driveway. It was the mail lady with a package. With my pregnant brain, I left the burrito to go grab the package, and didn't hear the door shut behind me as I went out onto the deck to meet her. As I turned to go back inside, my hand felt resistance. The door was locked. Eeeep! I tried again. Ya, locked, just like ten seconds ago. Omg, my burrito!! I was still not used to our self locking doors to the new house, and have since then, locked myself out many, many times. Old dog, new tricks, you know.

Hurriedly, I checked the windows closest to me. Nope. Shut and shut hard against the late January weather. I scurried to the back of the house. Yup, backdoor locked too. And smoke, I see smoke! I shuffled over to the front of the house again and spied my suspicions. I DID leave our bedroom window open just a tiny crack to let in some fresh air that morning! Problem was, the window was laughing at me from the second story. "You think you can make it up here? With that belly?", it laughed. That thought did cross my mind. Instead I decided to run. My sister in-law lived next door at the time, and she might have a key? Or an idea? Or a phone to frantically call 911? I held my belly with both hands and ran across the field as hard as I could. I felt something tear a bit, and hurt too, but all I could think was, "My house is going to burn down. My brand. New. House. And it's going to be all my fault. Jeremy is going to KILL me!  All my fault!! And, crispy burrito??? I never crisp my burritos!! No job, no house, OUCH!! new baby, oh god, Betsy, please be home!!!!

I got to her door and pounded on it. No footsteps came. More pounding, and no sound from behind the door. I whimpered a bit and decided to run to Jeremy's parents house, the next house over, and pound on their door.  To my surprise and relief, Sue, my mother-in-law was there, and so was Betsy, visiting. I breathed the rundown through gasps of breath, and we all ran back to the house. More running. I thought Vanessa would slide on out as I ran through the tall golden grass all "Little house on the Prairie" style. Man, it hurt to run! About half way through the field my ears caught the sound of our fire alarms. They were all going off, alerting us that inside was in trouble. Betsy decided she was going to try and get on the roof, and scale her way across and open that bedroom window, and get in that way. One small problem......Betsy was pregnant too.

Sue decided no, it would be her to get on the roof. No pregnant girls allowed. So, my very dear mother-in-law scaled my second story roof, and slipped into my bedroom window filled with smoke while Betsy and I waited safely on the ground, clutching each other, scared out of our wits. A minute later, smoke came pouring out of the front door as it opened, and Sue emerged holding a very smoky pan at arms length with super, duper, charred remnants of  what once was a burrito. Crispy, it was. Edible? way beyond that.

The house was okay. Very, very smoky, but okay. The only victim, my favorite pan, but I am totally fine with that, and feel so lucky to have a mother-in-law that awesome, who will scale a roof for us. Much love and gratitude to you, Sue. XXX's and OOO's. You saved our house.

The rest of that day and night was spent feeling very sheepish and grateful, and laying completely still on my back, as the running caught up with me. I was hurting more than normal, but she wasn't due for weeks. Three days later, still hobbling and shaken a bit from the almost fire, I was talking on the phone with a co-worker who was checking up on me ( Tammy C., it was you!) and had to get off the phone because I felt like I might need to go to the bathroom. As soon as I stepped foot in the bathroom, I felt a sudden dizziness and water start to flow. My water broke. Totally spontaneous. Just like in the movies.  I stood there stunned, and amazed. There was so. much. water BROKE!!! I sat down, shaking, trying to wrap my head on what was happening. Water breaking....means baby, coming? Now? Being a greenhorn, birthing, and the timeline, was still a mystery.

I got up. What do I do? I grabbed for the phone, and called my next door neighbor. She would know what to do.



"Betsy! My water broke!! What do I do?"

"WHAT???!! I'm coming over!!"

A minute later, and she was on my couch. I was contracting, nothing major, but decided to call not 911, but our local fire station to ask what to do. Greenhorn, I'm tellin' ya.

I talk to the person at the fire station, and she casually decides to send a unit over to come check me over. I tell her it is not an emergency, and no hurry, so she says okay, and hangs up.

I call Jeremy and give him the news, then I hear it as I am talking to him.


My eyes are wide and catches Betsy's wide eyes and we laugh nervously because we hope those are not my, they couldn't be....omg, they are!

I am so embarrassed as the sirens get louder and closer, and the aid unit barrels down my driveway. Then another unit, then some more big first responder units. There are many, many men outside my door. A couple young lads in heavy fireman gear bust into the house, boots and all.....on my new carpet....BIG heavy fireman boots...could you maybe...take off..? No? Ya, no, that's okay...No biggie...just new light grey carpet...Eish! let it go, you are going to have a BABY!

One of the young lads grabs my wrist to take my pulse, as the other busily puts some oxygen on me, looking at me with worried, concerned eyes. Betsy's in the corner giggling, and a higher up paramedic walks into the room, takes one look at me and scoffs " Take that thing off her. Look at her. She don't need it." as he walks up and yanks it off my face. Gently, of course. Sort of.  I want to crawl under a rock. Right now. Just pass me an epidural when the screaming gets loud. I'll be okay under here.

They decide to give me a medical transport, and Jeremy meets us at the Fauntleroy terminal, and we are headed to the hospital. It's time to have our first baby. It is time to hold the world in our hands, only to have that world ripped away from us ten months later.

This story started eleven years ago on MLK day, 2002. After a seventeen hour labor, an induction, a failed epidural, and three hours of pushing, Vanessa Rose Smith was born during a slice of night at 1:38 am, on January the 22nd. This Tuesday we will let off eleven balloons graveside into the sky, filled with kisses, hugs, and messages. Her birthday candle will be lit, and I will be thinking of the day my world broke open to let love in.

This is Vanessa's birth story, a very, very dear memory of mine.

And with shaking hands as I write this, I share it with you.


  1. Thank you for telling this story, I got to meet her behind the pharmacy. She will forever be a part of your family. ♥♥♥♥

  2. Love it, and thinking of you on the eve of her 11th.

  3. Thank you, sweet ladies. Claudia, I remember you meeting her, too. I remember talking about first time motherhood, and "sleeping when she sleeps" , something neither of us could do. I am so glad you have that memory of her. XO