SoLongPTA Empty Nest Blog

also known as
“It’s Memorial Day?”

Certain things about life, you just know… I mean KNOW, deep down in what our pastor calls “your KNOWER.”


1) Popcorn is the fruit of the gods, as proven when I put 126 pieces in my mouth at one time while watching Fantasy Island circa 1974. 

2) I would marry the cutest guy on earth (and boy is he lucky)!!

3) My first baby would be a GIRL.  If you have read my blog “Sucktember, by Robin,” or know me personally, you will know we heartbreakingly lost our first baby, a boy we named Jeb in Sucktember 1997.


Fast forward one year.  My (cute) husband (Jack) got a promotion that would move us to Johannesburg, South Africa.  In preparation, we had to jump through lots of medical hoops; one was getting a Yellow Fever shot.

As the doctor dabbed the cold alcohol prep on my arm, he asked: “You’re not pregnant, right?  Because if you are, you really, really, really can’t get a Yellow Fever shot.”  It occurred to me that I had smelled DIRT through my car vents on the way to this appointment.   Who needed “First Response” when you possess the unique quality of smelling DIRT, as soon as you are pregnant?  Instead of the shot, I got a blood test to measure HCG levels.   CONGRATULATIONS!  The dirt was correct!

Pregnancy and childbirth are in a world of their own.  Magnify that with our prior loss and moving to a country I couldn’t even find on a map.  Johannesburg was still in a time of high crime, and all grocery stores, malls, and movie theaters had armed guards (hello AK47’s) flanking their entrances.

And the creme dela creme?  NO TARGETs.

Fast forward 8,501 miles from home and now 2-months pregnant.  Anxiety and nesting began in a country where there were 11 official languages, 12 if you count PREGNANCY & BABY SPEAK.

Learning Language #12:

*Upon hearing that a sister (nurse) would be teaching our antenatal (childbirth) classes, my first question was: “What the heck would a nun know about my pain during labor and delivery?”  To my embarrassment, that got big rounds of laughter from our South African friends…not to mention the sisters in my OB’s office.

*My baby-bump (belly) was growing!  I am a SALT-GAL (remember my LoVe for popcorn?), but somehow my body was hijacked, like Will Farrell as Buddy The Elf.  I was eating ice-lollies (popsicles) and candyfloss (cotton candy) like a champ.

*All the females at Jack’s work threw me a surprise Stork Tea (Baby Shower).  Being 8,501 miles from home (have I mentioned that?), it was the sweetest thing.  Gifts included hand-painted nursery art for my “Baby Jungle Animal” themed nursery, cot (crib) bedding, dummies (pacifiers), and loads of nappies (diapers)…which Jack could never get and resorted to calling them “diappies.”

*Gripe Water (baby Happy Hour?). “The original gripe water, first used by nannies and moms in England in the 1850s, contained alcohol — which people used to think relaxed babies…”  In 1999, SA gripe water did contain alcohol and the only person who tasted the dummie dipped in it was ME.

*South Africa has many other British traditions, like taking High Tea and Low Tea.  I got hooked on Rooibos tea with tons of milk…and spoiler alert so did baba (baby) Emily.

So Long PTA Empty Nest Blog

Probably time to confess an ADDICTION: Diet Coke.  

True.  Card-carrying member.  And for the health of the baby, I dialed it back to ONE-A-DAY.  Me and my ever-growing bump would squeeze into my manual transmision car (stick shift-shift with left hand) and drive (on the left) approximately 8 kilometers (5 miles) to McDonald’s.  There I would pick up my Dailey-Bailey-Heavenly-Carbonation-Treat from the drive-thru window (on the right).  I did this religiously even though the artificial sweeteners used in SA were different from the ones my highly refined Diet Coke taste buds LoVed.  Seems random, but wait for it…

So Long PTA Empty Nest Blog

Monthly ultrasounds were routine with my OB, Dr. Pistorius.  They were the most reassuring thing I could ask for.  I was 8-months along and Dr. Pistorius announced that this baby would weigh in at about 4.5 kilograms (10 pounds), so no birthing this baby, we would require a Ceaser (C-Section)…scheduled for May 27, 1999

NOTE: I designed the birth announcement with May 27, 1999, front and center.  To this day, we all stay a little confused. 

 Adding to the language confusion, they use military-style date and time..  I found this out when I wrote my birthdate as 02/24/64 and was asked “What month is  24?”  Oops.  I can’t tell you how many official forms had Jack’s May 3rd birthday as March 5th.  Oops.

The day before my scheduled hospital visit, this baby had her own plan (yes, we knew it was a girl, but shhhhh).

May 26, 1999, Emily McKenna Bailey decided it was her time.

  • 5:00 am  Emily says, let’s get this party started! (water breaks)
    5:05 am  Note to self, scheduling mani-pedi ONE day before c-section was poor planning.
    5:06 am  Call Dr. Pistorius, “Surprise!”
    8:00 am  At the hospital with sisters prepping me for ceaser.
    …Meanwhile, the only anesthetist (anesthesiologist) was tied up in BRAIN SURGERY.
    12:00 pm  Sisters tell me the pain can’t be that bad, and hey, it’s not as major as brain surgery.
    12:01 pm  SCREAM to Jack that the pain is real and to get rid of the NUNS.
    12:02 pm  Sisters asked to “check” and say, “oh, will you really do hurt…. you’re dilated to 10cm (10cm), too late for drugs”.
    12:03 pm  Jack somehow got me an epidural.  For all I know, he did it himself.  Didn’t care.
    12:28 pm  Emily McKenna Bailey arrived!  Thanks to the epidural, Jack and I birthed that baby with the same level of pain.
    12:30 pm  Emily was getting cleaned up and fussed over by Dad, and I was looking over the Maternity Ward Dinner Menu deciding on red or white wine (I kid you not).

NOTE: Glad this all happened before 1:00 pm, or it would have been a birth time of 1300 hours…

It was MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND, but who knew?  We never associate Emily’s birthday with this patriotic holiday because, you know, SA and all.

And my Push Gift (Baby Gift)?  Jack had an ice-cold 6-pack of AMERICAN DIET COKE tied with a pink ribbon.  Perfect.

Perfect baby.  Perfect husband.  Perfect timing to call everyone 8,501 miles away 12:30 pm (5:30 am). 

BIRDbirdSMALL copy

Emily McKenna Bailey:

Today, 26/05/2020, you turn 21.  You are amazing.  You are one-of-a-kind.  You call your own shots.  You are strong (and strong-willed).  You are artistic.  You are smart like your Dad and creative like your Mom.  You are so BEAUTIFUL, but most importantly, you have the sweetest, biggest heart.

Love you to the moon & back,
Mum (Mom)

So Long PTA Empty Nest Blog