Baby G is a girl! Thérèse Marie Gretencord was born to us on Friday, January 16, 2004 at 10:58am CST. She weighed 7 lbs 9oz and measured 19 3/4 inches long. Mother and baby are doing fine. Sharon would later like to give the details on the birth experience after she has time to heal. To make a long story short, it would be very difficult to ask for a more perfect birth story. We were incredibly blessed with a birth with no complications and much loving support from all our family and friends. Thank you all for your prayers and all that you have done, and will do, for us.
St. Thérèse of Lisieux
(Sister Teresa of the Child Jesus)
Carmelite of Lisieux, better known as the Little Flower of Jesus, born at Alençon, France, 2 January, 1873; died at Lisieux 30 September, 1897. More…
Thérèse’s birth story could begin the day she came into the world on April 23, but for the sake of time, I’ll leave the first 8.5 months out and focus on the time she was moved out of my womb.
Adam and I planned for a Bradley birth, which is a natural unmedicated birth. We started attending our Bradley classes in August to get an early start. That was the best thing we could have done. We didn’t have any clue how things would turn out. Two good friends of ours had also planned a Bradley birth, but both ended up having c-sections for different reasons and different complications. I personally was not very confident after their experiences of a positive birth for us. But I just prepared myself mentally for the worst while hoping and praying for the best. With that said…
About mid-December we started getting all the questions, “How much longer? When is Baby G due?” Our answer was, “About one month.” One of the priests at St. Louis, our church, was going to be gone in January (when we were due) so he offered to give me another young woman due that week an Anointing for expecting mothers. What a grace! Thank you Fr. Victor!
Christmas was around the corner and I experienced my first labor pains at midnight Mass. We got there early around 10:30 and from the time I got there; my back was hurting every 10-12 minutes for 3 hours straight. AT my January 9, OB appointment, we would learn that those pains dilated me 3-4 cm. That day we learned I was also 75% effaced. Our OB, Dr. Love, didn’t think I would make it through the weekend. After experiencing some contractions that afternoon, I didn’t think I would make it either. We didn’t have our hospital bags packed or the car seat in the car. I picked up Adam early from work thinking I might be in labor as my contractions were about 10 minutes apart. Well, I was wrong. That’s one of those things that Bradley no-no’s—don’t get over anxious. After that day I didn’t have any more contractions. Baby G didn’t come that weekend. At our next appointment the following Monday, we hadn’t progressed from the last visit. Our due date was still 4 days away and Dr. Love wasn’t concerned. He made an appointment for Tuesday of the next week.
On January 7, we started a novena to St. Gerard—the patron saint of expecting mothers. Of course we prayed for a healthy baby, and healthy mom, but also a safe birth. Now at the end of the prayer, there is a line that says, “Do not let us end this novena without having experienced the effects of your intercession.” On the last day of the novena, January 15, at 11 p.m. St. Gerard answered our petition. My water broke and we were in labor!
I was laying down getting ready for bed and was experiencing some uncomfortable back pains. It was so uncomfortable that Adam started timing them. These contractions were 10-12 minutes apart. I needed to get up to go to the bathroom and when I did I felt a small gush of fluid. I thought I had a bad case of incontinence until I went to the bathroom and realized I couldn’t stop the trickle of fluid! Adam and I deduced that my bag of waters had broken. Being the worry wart that I am, I asked Adam if we should call Dr. Love’s office. Dr. Love has said to call if our bag of waters had broken or my contractions were 6-8 minutes apart. But our Bradley training said to hold off until I get “serious” about the pain. I was still smiling between contractions so Adam decided to hold off. That was probably the wisest decision he could have made.
We labored at home and tried to get rest in between contractions and stay hydrated. I was drinking Gatorade and water and going to the bathroom frequently. I paced around the room. The back pains were getting stronger and stronger as each hour passed. The contractions moved from 10-12 minutes to 8-10 minutes apart. At 2 or 3 a.m. we were successfully dozing off between contractions but when the next one came it was a startling awakening. Sometimes I had to yell to wake my sweet husband. At about 4a.m. the back pains were spreading to my legs. That took me by surprise. It felt like strong leg cramps in my upper thighs. Adam was sleeping so well that he was losing track of how far apart the contractions were.
At 5 a.m. I woke in excruciating pain and told Adam that it was time to go. We called the doc’s office. Dr. Love wasn’t on call that night but he would be in at 7 a.m.—only a couple of hours away. We were off to St. David’s Medical Center—a 20 minute drive—in the pouring rain! I was expecting the contractions to move further apart in the car, but they were closer together, now they were 3-4 minutes apart. And they hurt!!
We arrived at the hospital around 6 a.m. St David’s was packed! We were taken to the Labor Delivery Recover room and appointed a nurse. Her name was Nancy. We told Nancy that we wanted a natural birth—no meds. The birth plan we’d written never made it out of the binder but we were clear about what we wanted. The IV was Nancy’s arguing point. She told us every reason we should have it. I said no. We had talked to Dr. Love and we would compromise with a heplock, but no IV. If he had any reason to advise differently we’d be obedient to his advice. She conceded.
Nancy then hooked me up to the Electronic Fetal Monitor. My contractions were 2-3 minutes apart by now and Baby G looked good. Nancy checked me and I was 7 cm dilated, -1 station. This was great news for us—the 6 hours at home made a huge difference! We told her I wanted to walk around and she agreed but every hour I’d have to stand near the monitor for a reading. I could live with that. The one thing I had learned from the experiences of friends is to be firm but willing to compromise. Being prepared for the compromises helped a lot. I was only allowed ice chips. This was another thing we were prepared for. That is why I drank as much as I could before I got there.
Nancy let us labor quietly alone. I walked around the room between contractions. During contractions Adam rubbed my back. Did I mention that the only place I felt the contractions was in my back? Although I wished Adam had more hands, I could have used a massage on my legs as the pain was getting stronger in them as well. Even though we had packed our birth ball, rice pack, music, and CD player, the only the only thing that came out of the laboring materials was our crucifix and our statue of St. Gerard. The contractions were too close together for me to allow Adam a second away from me.
Dr. Love came in around 7 a.m. and he checked me again. I was still at 7 cm and -1 station. One of my defense mechanisms for my pain was cracking jokes which surprised Dr. Love and the nurse. I should have been more serious by that time. But my spiritual mechanism for the pain was to offer up my suffering in union with Christ—and I never let the crucifix out of my site! During my pregnancy we had discovered Col 1:24, “Now I rejoice in my suffering for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church.” We had many prayer intentions for which to offer up my sufferings but the greatest of these intentions is for all our pre-born brothers and sisters and an end to abortion. This helped me immensely with the pain. It didn’t make the pain any less, but it made it meaningful.
The pain was shooting down my legs even stronger. It became harder to stand up. But I was determined not to lie down. I was afraid of “not progressing.” Nancy came in and wanted to check me again. What she found was music to my ears—9 cm dilated! She said we were about ready to push. My fatigue was becoming greater. I asked Adam if he was ready to take over—no chance! But he kept encouraging me and reminding me that it was almost over and we’d see Baby G soon. I, on the other hand, was ready to go home. I was done. He and Nancy just laughed.
Nancy said whenever I was ready to push to let her know. I don’t remember having a great desire to push, but I thought maybe if I started it would be over soon! They asked if I would be more comfortable with a squat bar, but there was no way I was moving. I was ready to push. This was the one part of laboring we hadn’t practiced too much. It probably took me 15 minutes to half an hour to get it right—that is to hold my breath and stop letting air out during the push. When I got it right Adam let me know he could see the progress. Finally he told me he could see the head—and Baby G had hair!
Soon, Nancy called the nurses’ station to let them know it was time to page Dr. Love. Before she could turn off the intercom, I let out a huge scream. By the way, I wasn’t a silent laborer during the pushes…I let it be known I was in pain. Soon the delivery table was moved in and another nurse was in the room. Dr. Love was in shortly. And it was really time to get down to business. Everyone was trying to get me to focus on good pushes. I could tell Baby G was close to coming out—Adam was so excited. Dr. Love was saying we were almost done—just a few more pushes. The he said to open my eyes and look. Look at what, I didn’t know. And I really didn’t feel like it. I felt like getting Baby G out. By now Adam was telling me to look. So I opened my eyes and with the next two pushes, there she was. “It’s a girl!” I don’t know who made the announcement, but all I could say was, “Thank you Jesus!” They handed her to me. Our Baby G now had a name—Thérèse Marie Gretencord.
Thanks and many blessings to Dr. Mikael Love. We chose him because he’s one of two Pro-Life doctors in the state of Texas. He is an awesome OBGYN. All the people who recommended him were not mistaken. It also helped that he and his wife had Bradley births with their children.
Also many thanks to Karina Bolger. She was our Bradley instructor. We never knew there was so much to know about childbirth. Thanks for empowering us and helping us become a team in the birth of our daughter!
All our friends and family—your prayers were felt every step of the way. We could not have done this without the countless prayers and masses you offered on our behalf. Our little flower has bloomed thanks to you.
St. Gerard—you came through in our novena to you—as we knew you would. Thank you for your intercession to our Blessed Lord.
St. Thérèse of Liseaux–thank you for answering my prayer to conceive a child. This child is dedicated to our Lord through our Blessed Mother and you. We will take every opportunity to share your message of the little way through our child.