Grace Is Born
Byron and Sibel joined my mother, brother-in-law, and aunt in a waiting room. I sat on the edge of the bed and a nurse crouched in front of me. I hung on her shoulders while the anesthesiologist gave me the shot -- I was nervous, but the nurse was reassuring and there was no pain, barely even a pinch. The doctor helped me lie on my back, gave me an oxygen mask to help my breathing, and suggested a nap.
I stared at the ceiling, afraid to sleep. The contractions were still there, but they didn't hurt anymore. I clutched at the oxygen mask -- an unlikely comfort object. I blinked and stared, blinked and stared, wanting to send good thoughts to the baby. But my mind kept blanking out.
"Oh my, you're ready!" the doctor suddenly exclaimed. Surely an hour hadn't passed? "No, it's only been fifteen minutes, but..." She turned away and began to yell for a nurse. But there were only two nurses on the floor, and three women giving birth: Me, a woman being prepped for a c-section, and a woman who had just been given Pitocin. The others needed the nurses more.
The doctor pulled Byron into the room. "Jessica!" she barked like a drill sergeant. "Listen to me! When I say push, I need you to bear down like you're having a big bowel movement and don't let up. Do you understand?" I nodded. Byron held one of my legs to my chest and I tried to hold the other, but I didn't have the strength. "Hold your leg!" the doctor begged. I just couldn't. So she grabbed one of those busy nurses to hold my leg for me, and I began to push.
I was a champion pusher -- the doctor and nurse were looking at each other with big smiles, remarking on how well I was doing. But they directed tougher love at me. "Harder!" they screamed. "Come on!" I began to moan and cry with frustration. I was putting every bit of energy I had into every push!
The baby crowned after only about 20 minutes, but I didn't feel much relief. I was focused on getting her all the way out. A few more pushes and her head came. We paused while the doctor cleared the mouth and nose. Then suddenly there she was, such a wiggly, alien creature lying on my tummy that I was afraid to touch her. "Gracie's here, my love!" Byron cried. I nodded, disoriented. They took her away to be looked over and tidied up, and I prayed for her to be healthy, hardly noticing my doctor sewing up a small tear I'd suffered.
And then Grace was in our arms. An amazing, healthy, 8 pound, 7 ounce baby -- alert, staring at me. Could this little person have been inside me not half an hour before? Relatives filed in and we passed Grace around. Suddenly I felt the adrenaline kick in. As tiring as labor had been, I'd never felt better!
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