Wendy's Pregnancies

Gracie

When I had my first, we didn't know if we were having a girl or a boy and didn't have a definite name. Gracie wasn't even on the list but after we saw her we knew the names we chose weren't right. When she was two days old the name Gracie came up. We looked at her and knew that was it.

She was due on November 10, 1999, and I thought for sure that she was going to come early and that she'd be very small. In fact, she was born on November 18th, 1999 after 22 hours in labor—a big, beautiful 8lb, 5oz, 21". I learned with Gracie not to listen when people comment on whether or not I looked "far enough along." Just listen to your doctor and make sure you're eating properly.

Gracie was my first and I really had it in my head that I didn't want an epidural. After my Lamaze class I believed that a tennis ball, nice music, a warm shower and breathing would make this a beautifully spiritual experience. I soon learned that the reality was that during labor, I was throwing up while trying to make it to the toilet with "number 3" (diarrhea).

I could barely move or walk from an intense sharp pain in my lower back, which I thought, was sciatica. After my delivery we found out that my pelvis had separated. This was something that I had never heard of in any of the zillions of pregnancy magazine and books I had read. Apparently it is a rare occurrence during delivery, but I would have liked to have known ahead of time that this was a possibility so that it wasn't such a shock that I wasn't able to move or walk because of the intensity of the pain.

So much for music and tennis balls. I just needed to intensely focus, as I have never done before in my life, on a person who would breathe with me, not lose eye contact with me for one moment during a contraction, and hold my hand tightly. I thank God for my first nurse who was phenomenal at both getting me through the contractions, and teaching my husband what to do. The combination of intense and strong eye contact, her look of compassion, the connection of our hands, and the breathing together made me feel like there was some control over the pain. I still begged for an epidural as soon as I was dilated enough for it. After the epidural I was in heaven.

But unfortunately, after only an hour and a half of relief they had to turn the epidural off completely due to complications. It never came back on again. I was experiencing extreme shaking and my blood pressure was very low. After I was stabilized, during contractions the baby's heart rate would dip. My doctor said, "Any more of this and we're taking you in for an emergency C-Section."

Fortunately, the baby seemed fine so I continued with my husband coaching me through my labor. By 6:45am I was begging to push but they told me I couldn't because at 7:00 am there would be another nurse change and they did not want chaos while they were trying to brief her on my labor history. At 7:05 I was screaming that I had to push and begged my husband to find the new nurse.

Finally, at about 7:15, in walked my new nurse, Marissa, an absolute angel and my hero. She was so experienced, and like my first nurse had that same ability to be strong yet compassionate at the same time. She briefed me on what we were going to do and then at 7:20 I started pushing. She would yell at me and explain how to do it, telling me to push down as if I were having a bowel movement, so that every bit of your energy is directed down there.

This really worked for me. In Lamaze class, they did tell us to push down, but when you are in such intense pain, along with a separated pelvis, you really need to concentrate. You willfully control your mind to get you through the pain and to psyche yourself out for the next contraction.

After my first ten minutes with Marissa I asked "How long till the baby comes?" She gently came close to me and holding my face in her hand said, "Honey, usually on average the first baby takes two hours to get out. But your next baby will be much easier, I promise." I was in shock. I thought to myself, "What about all those women who told me they only had to push three times? And what woman would ever let herself get pregnant a second time?!" I've always wanted five children but I was thinking, "There's NO WAY I will ever be pregnant again. Is she crazy?"

I never thought that I would make it. I was now in labor for 20 hours with no sleep. My husband also watched closely to what Marissa was doing and if she had to leave the room for a moment he would jump in, counting and encouraging me to hold the push. He had all of her verbiage down and kept a close eye on the monitor to get me ready for the next contraction. He helped me so much.

Exactly two hours after I started pushing, my first child was born. They immediately put her to my chest and wiped her down on top of me. I was speechless. My husband and I were in such awe that we didn't even think to ask if it was a boy or a girl. Finally, my father-in-law shouted, "What is it?" The midwife then angled the baby around enough for him to exclaim, "It's a girl!"

I couldn't believe that I was looking at the beautiful baby I had carried for so long. It is an experience that was beyond belief and beyond words. The nurse then asked what her name was going to be. I deliriously uttered "Marissa's a nice name."

The baby was so peaceful that I was worried that she wasn't crying. So the nurse tapped the bottom of her foot and she let out a little cry. Next, they had my husband cut the umbilical cord and then they put her in the bassinet under the warm lights to check her out.

After they bundled the baby up, Marissa gave her back to me and said, "Okay, now you're going to start breastfeeding." I was amazed. I was thinking, "Just like that?" She was just born!" But that baby knew exactly what to do.

The human body is remarkable. I couldn't believe that I pushed her out of me and that she survived that trip perfectly and now she was nourishing herself from my body. The whole thing still amazes me to this day.

Three weeks after Gracie's birth, I said that I would definitely do it again. It's not that you forget the pain, it's that the reward is worth enduring absolutely anything.

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