Birth Story: Open Letter to Jelly Belly (aka How Violet was Born)

A certain sweet girl turned 3 years old on February 22nd. I had the privilege of being at her birth. The following is her mother’s account of how things happened. This birth story was originally posted here

Open Letter to Jelly Belly (aka How Violet was Born)

Dear Sir or Madam,

Thank you for producing Jelly Bellys, the most amazing jelly beans in the world. Not only are Jelly Bellys delicious, but I’m also fairly certain that they saved my life while I was in labor with my enormous baby daughter, Violet. I’m getting ahead of my story, though. It seems in retrospect that as early as the seventh or eighth month of my pregnancy I had already begun to subsist primarily on jelly beans. I had a healthy diet plan, of course, but the great thing about Jelly Bellys is that you can keep a quantity on hand and have just a few at a time when you need something sweet – after a meal, for example. Then, later, you can eat the rest of the box.

Even though I was not eating Jelly Bellys at the time, my first child was born weighing ten and a half pounds, so naturally I was a bit concerned about the size that my second might achieve due in part to this highly nourishing diet. As my due date approached, arrived, and started to recede into distant memory, I became increasingly eager to give birth before she (and I) could get any larger. Thus it was that my next encounter with your product occurred. Supposedly walking helps to bring on labor, and there were about three feet of snow outside (this was last February), so my walking options were limited. In retrospect it seems inevitable that we ended up in a mall and, in particular, taking a break to rest our legs and pacify our toddler in a candy store. There was one of those Jelly Belly displays where you get to choose your flavors individually, and my husband, James, and I left with two significant baggies of our favorite flavors.

Apparently all that walking was effective, because I’d barely had time to finish my personal stash when it became clear that my contractions were getting stronger and this was almost certainly The Real Thing. I’ll admit that at this point a long time passed during which I didn’t think of jelly beans at all. James and I made our final plans and arrangements, then watched about six episodes of Lost while I labored in a bathtub. If you’ve ever seen any birth videos, the way things were going was about what you might expect. I’d concentrate and breathe through contractions, appreciating the fact that, yes, I could choose to understand the sensations as intense pressure rather than pain, then relax and chat in between. I was pretty sure that things were going great and Violet was likely to be born any minute.

Then, suddenly, oh my god. A variety of things happened that I won’t elaborate on in detail, but that in general served to make me wonder if people ever spontaneously commit suicide during labor and why you never hear about that. Several hours passed in the most amazingly slow and painful way that I could not have previously imagined, and I started to entertain the idea of going to the hospital. I guess I should mention, here, that I belong to a subculture that sees home birth more or less as the norm, and my general feeling about going to hospitals to give birth is similar to my feelings about other beloved cultural institutions such as school and employment, i.e., not sure why I should bother. However, at that point I was basically ready to throw in the towel and volunteer for an emergency c-section, except that the only way I could imagine possibly becoming less comfortable was to get in a car. And so, there we were.

Meanwhile, James and our midwife, Michele, were eating Jelly Bellies. This is not to say that they weren’t being supportive, because actually they were great. But they’d had this bizarre desire, during the past ten hours or so, to occasionally do things like rest and eat snacks. It was at this point that James offered me some of his mix. “No!” I yelled. I’d been doing this quite a lot, actually, but on this occasion, it was an accurate expression of the way that my rational mind was feeling about jelly beans. And yet, several agonizing minutes later, I looked down at the kitchen counter where I was bracing myself during a short rest between contractions, and there was the bag. Without any conscious intention on my part, I grabbed a handful and stuffed it into my mouth.

James has excellent taste in most things, but his Jelly Belly preferences are truly bizarre. As I chewed, I tasted Dr. Pepper, grapefruit, coconut, coffee, and probably pomegranate. It was sick and wrong in the most amazing way. After taking a break to scream through the next contraction, I shoved another handful in my mouth.

Within twenty minutes I had given birth to a beautiful, humongous baby girl. She weighed eleven pounds and six ounces, which apparently is what I get for eating all those jelly beans. Still, thanks for your help, Jelly Belly…I never could have done it without you, and I wouldn’t change a thing.


Laura Gyre

P.S. My favorite flavors are peach and pear. Oh, and buttered popcorn.


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