Forty Years Ago:
I stared at the TV, hearing the drone but not paying attention to the program. Earlier I had eaten to my heart’s content, wishing I hadn’t stuffed myself the way we did our turkey.
Before too long, I felt a strong urge. Alone and frightened, my heart raced.
I pressed the button.
And pressed again.…
No one came.
In desperation I banged on the wall, yelling, “Hello, anyone out there? I have to push! I have to push!” Doesn’t anyone hear me? I . . . have . . . to . . . push!
I pounded on the wall, about to put a hole through it. At last, a nurse ran in. Much to her surprise—and my anguish—she found me fully dilated and ready to pop.
A lot of activity happened at once. Oddly enough at the same instant, I felt like an ice cube. The nurse noticed me trembling and threw three blankets over me. She fetched Mr. Wonderful in the lounge, already stretched out half-asleep. After waking him, they gave him a hospital gown, a cap, and a mask. After he followed them to the delivery room, they instructed him where to stand.
With my knees bent and feet in stirrups, an assistant leaned me forward.
“Now push,” my doctor instructed. “Push, hard.”
I took a deep breath and held it, managing a couple of pushes, one or two deep grunts, and a long groan, feeling the blood rush to my brain. “I . . . can’t!” I gasped. “No more. I’m tired.”
“Come on. Keep pushing. Bear down. A little more.”
“Shush. It’s okay, honey,” Mr. Macho-turned-coach drilled. “Stay calm.”
“YOU stay calm! IT HURTS!”
“Humph,” Donny snorted.
“All right, now give me one big, long push.”
“It . . . b-burns!” God, I feel like I’m tearing!
“Okay, now stop. Stop pushing a moment.”
Push–Breathe–Bear down–Don’t push–Breathe! My mind zoomed from ninety to zero. Oh, what am I supposed to do? Why hadn’t Donny and I completed those Lamaze classes? Finally, the answer came to me: In order to refrain from pushing, I had to do a series of shallow breathing. Pant. Like a dog.
Pant. Pant. Pant. Pant.
Donny watched the whole process bug-eyed and ashen-faced.
Some macho-man he turned out to be.
Gorgeous. Chestnut hair. Almond-shaped eyes. Rosy cheeks. Ten fingers and ten toes. I was in my teens and just delivered a beautiful, healthy 7 lb. 6 oz. baby girl. My baby girl! Thank you, God. With the ideal name for her—in memory of my beloved grandma and my deceased sister—I named her Anna, with Marie being her middle name.
Once home, I savored the miracle before me: An innocent life at peace in her crib. A life I had only known as bittersweet; a life filled with much adversity from being alone, cold, hungry, and frightened. My mind twirled with unanswered questions. Could I protect this child and keep her safe? As her mommy, I wondered if I’d always be there for her, and not fail or disappoint her. Would we have a close relationship? Would she always feel my love?
(An excerpt from Running in Heels: A Memoir of Grit and Grace)
© M.A. Pérez, 2016, All Rights Reserved
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We celebrate my firstborn’s birthday on the 26th. About every four years, her birthday lands on Thanksgiving Day. From day one, she is a reminder of all I am thankful for. She is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. I thought I knew something about parenting and Motherhood, but when she came into my life, she taught me.
As I watched her grow, she taught me the rhythm of a mother’s heartbeat for her child.
To my beautiful daughter:
Anna Marie, as you have already read in my book about some of the joys and sorrows of life that transpired before and after you came into the world, I pray you will always know that you are no accident. You were a blessing to my heart’s content then and continue to be so now. Thank you for all that you do for me and Pops, both abroad and beyond, as well as behind the scenes. We love and appreciate you.
Happy Birthday, Anna!