Friday, April 24, 2009


Dear Zoey,
Today at 10:52am you turned 3. This is what I know about three: it is the first odd prime number and the second smallest prime, the fourth Fibonacci number. Plato split the soul into three parts, there are three branches of the U.S. government, reading, 'riting and 'rithmatic constitute the 3 R's, but that has always kinda' bugged me. Three. Me who hates math: it is so much easier to talk about you in terms of numbers, in terms of philosophy, in terms of things I have never understood because you exist in a space without language. A, B, C, D, we sing this song together, but the alphabet will never be enough to tell you just how much I love you.
Three years ago today I writhed on a hospital bed with you deep inside. Three weeks early, I went into labor on a Sunday night after watching Caddyshack with your Daddy. Bryan? I whispered around 11pm on April 23rd, 2006, I think I'm having contractions. And he mumbled something in his sleep and held me closer. Bryan? All night long I whispered your father's name (not yet knowing your own). Bryan? At 3am we called the hospital, our bag not packed. I remember bracing myself in the doorway, the way we the air felt cold on my skin when we left the house. I remember thinking that the night was so still, how could it be so still when the world was on the brink of being forever changed?
When we got to the hospital I was 8cm dilated. Good job! The nurses said, and I smiled and waited for a gold star that never came, a smiley face on top of my chart. I thought for sure I would be the pregnant lady in the movies who screams at her husband and demands an epidural, but I didn't. I didn't get an epidural; I held your daddy's hand and I pushed and I pushed and there are parts about this I don't remember, not because I am forgetful but because I was not really there. I went somewhere else, somewhere that was just me and you and pain and pushing and this intense pressure splitting me open. Push! and counting to ten, or was it three? (Weeks later your Daddy told me I pooped on the table, something I had been praying I would not do, but I did and I did not know, or care.) Push! I never once looked at my birth plan; the bag of lollipops someone had recommended went unopened. At some point they hooked you up to a fetal heart monitor and the doctor kept rushing in. Your heart rate was dropping each time I pushed and after three hours (3!), they said it was time for an emergency c-section.
Don't push! That was the most painful part--waiting in the room while the nurses prepped for surgery. It was so cold in there and I was no longer allowed to push. With each contraction I thought maybe I might die, my body cleaved by something sharp and searing that I could not see. I sat alone on a cold metal table, your Daddy was somewhere else getting scrubs and scared. Then they gave me a spinal tap and I couldn't feel anything from the neck down. I was no longer somewhere else, I was there, splayed on an operating table turning my head to puke into a pink kidney shaped bowl. I was being tugged. Pulled. And then a cry and there you were. I threw up again. Your Daddy cried. 5 lbs., 15 oz. Better than any gold star, my own happy face smiling. Tiny and pink and perfect. You.

2 days old.
I cannot imagine that there was a time before you. That the world existed, that I existed, that there was a family before the three of us. How can that possibly be? I think you might have been here all along, in the space between your Daddy and me. In the thin slice of air between our skin when we hug, in the condensation of our breath as we kissed. Ew, I know, right?

It's funny to me that I made you, because more than anything you made me. A mother. Somebody who now smiles at other children, who sees the real beauty in today, who sees tomorrow and the day after and wants the world to be better, who is not afraid to age. There is so much I want to teach you, but I have a feeling it will never be as much as you have taught me. Thank you for this and more, for everything, for feeling things that don't exist in letters, number, symbol or sound, for things I will never understand but am happy nonetheless that they are. My sweet petunia faced girl, princess happy feet, my happy birthday three.

This is still the beginning of our story, only our story starts with happily ever after.


Michele in Raleigh said...

beautiful, just beautiful, enjoy today!

Aartee said...

Sweet post! Happy Birthday Zoey :)

Jen said...

Oh that made me cry. I know I said this yesterday, but happy birthday to your sweet Zoey. I love her and I've never even met her!


Tina said...

I love the way you write. I think you are very talented. Happy Birthday Zoey!

Miss to Mrs said...

Tears! Lots of tears! What a beautiful way to commerate her third birthday. She is going to appreciate that so much when she gets older.

Happy Birthday Zoey!

Robin said...

Happy birthday sweet Zoey! And thanks for the beautiful words, Sus.

Ann Marie said...

Wonderful tribute to Zoey. Happy Birthday to her!

Just wait until she is 17 and goes over her text message limit by $215; stays out past her curfew without a call; has boys in her room (with the door closed) pretending to study. Just wait.

Anonymous said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ZOEY! It's a BIG day turning THREE. Princesses and castles, tiaras, and wands. At least that's what my daughter wanted last year!
Congratulations Susannah on a beautiful little girl! I completely loved this post as it resonates with my own very heart for my children!

Michelle in KY

Mari said...

this is great. she's going to love this. made me cry - so i can only imagine how she'll feel when she can read it and understand. congratulations on your happy family.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Zoey.

What love!

Kwana said...

Happy Birthday Dear Lucky, Loved three year old Zoey! Pooped on the table. Too funny. I don't feel so bad for peeing now. Ha!

alissa said...

im going ot be honest. from someone who has not had kids yet, that got a little graphic haha.
BUT beautiful - congrats on your beautiful daughter and the last three years - here to many more!

ps. i didnt know people pooped on the table. thanks for instilling one more fear about childbirth :)

Rosalie said...

That was beautiful. Our kids totally make us. By the way, I had no idea that Sadie and Zoey were the exact same size at birth?! Weird....

krista said...


oh, wait. this isn't about me.

um, happy birthday sweet little baby petunia. you're kind of precious.


JackeeG4glamorous said...

Three is the most WONDERFUL age! Happy Birthday Zoey!

anita said...

oh! what an amazing post! thank you for writing that. i am going to forward it to all the mommies i know with three year old daughters.

zee said...

Susannah u wench, u make me cry every time you write to Zoey!!
happy happy b'day to the little darling!
hugs from the Caribbean.

72 and sunny said...

crying. AGAIN.

Judy said...

This is when, more than anything,I want to be able to write like you do. Because the feelings, oh the overwhelmingly amazing tidal wave of remembrances and emotions are all inside me and I can only babble them out.

Today I watched Zoey having her 3rd Birthday Party. And I watched your Dad and I watch you, watching Zoey...The most precious, sweetest, beautiful little Tinkerbell and Fairy Winged-clad child in the Universe. There were times today when I saw you at the same age as Zoey, super-imposed as the two of you hauled up your tulle and flounces, pushing your 30's movie-star hair and tiara off your faces so you could climb on the gym structures and run in the grass. If I never believed before that the Universe isn't linear, I knew it today. With no wish to leave the husbands/Dads out of this, all I could keep coming back to today were the loops in my brain of me, you, as Zoey, You as Zoey, Zoey as you, you as me, me as you and on and on. Sometimes there is no space between us, maybe that's when we feel some friction but we are all bathed in Love and that makes it a miracle.
Your letter to Zoey today is beautiful and I want you to know that every word you wrote is hauntingly similar to the way I remember labor and delivery with you. I didn't have a C-Section but it was close. Can you even begin to imagine that one day you may well be standing by Zoey's bed (as I stood by yours) as she labors to give birth to her own? Can you imagine, Yes, of course you can, that you will be exhausted as you push with her, as I pushed with you trying to get Miss Z to make an appearance. The enormity of watching "your own baby" pushing out her own baby as you stand there re-living her birth? I don't begin to have the words or sklls to express all I feel today but know that there are times when I love you so much it physically hurts...and the same is true of Zoey. I am so enormously proud and happy today....of, with and because of you, my girls and the connections between us just get stronger for me as I watch you being such an amazingly wonderful Mom to the Zoey that I love so much I almost have to keep myself from biting her or inhaling her whole. And, not to forget the males in this....I watched Bry and Zoey today playing and tears came to my eyes. And I watched "Eggie" playing and felt so proud.
Love you so much! Happy Birthday, Zoey.
Mom/Grandma Glitter

Kari said...

Absolutely beautiful! Your post, and your little 3 year old.

Kari said...

p.s. Your Mom should start her own blog! She's a great writer - I can see where you get it from.

Amy said...

I am not yet a mother and this made me tear up at work! Happy Birthday, Zoey! What a wonderful tribute.

jen said...

I LOVE LOVE LOVE that picture of Bryan and Zoey. He looks so unabashedly happy.

Kelly Robson said...

i cried. you daughter is so lucky.

kathleen said...

"This is still the beginning of our story, only our story starts with happily ever after."

That is so lovely and moving.

Ok, it's time I tell you. You are my blog crush. I've been reading your blog and laughing and crying for months. I've been in love with it since day one because you're such a good writer and you're so damned funny.

Then one day I got the courage to write you a comment. It was really eloquent. It said, "Your kid is cute." Then you wrote a comment on mine and, well, you would have thought Madonna wrote a comment on my blog.

That's my story. I think I'll stick to it. :)

Petunia Face said...

Thank you everyone. Zoey is pinching my hand as I type this, so please excuse the typos and know this is her way of thank you, too. 3 is going to be awesome.

Molly said...

Wow, I haven't been around for a while and now I'm sorry as I realise how much I've missed out.
You've given words to all those feelings about motherhood I hadn't quite articulated yet.
Thank you.
Good luck with the move and your month of being shifty-eyed and homeless, it'll make moving into your next home even more worth it I'm sure.
Oh and live with the clear glass in and around your front door for a while - I think you'll find you like looking out more than being bothered by people looking in.
Yup, I'm catching up here ... : )

dee said...

How do you always manage to put a lump in my throat? I'm not even a mom and this gets me! Happy birthday, lil princess feet:)