By Bob Schaller//Contributor | Tuesday, November 22, 2016
National Teamer Annie (Chandler) Grevers and multi-Olympian, multi-gold medalist Matt Grevers welcomed daughter Skylar into the world less than two weeks ago. In this week of giving thanks, Annie shares her experience from bringing a human life into the world with Matt, and how thankful she is. And as it turns out, being a swimmer, she says, helped a lot, in this week’s 20 Question Tuesday.
1. Tell us how you and Matt's beautiful daughter is doing.
Annie: We’re doing very well. Matt was meant to be a Dad. It’s been fun to watch him slip into that role. I have days where I feel exceptionally inadequate and days where I feel I know what I’m doing. We’re 11 days in. So we’re finding our bearings.
2. I read your amazing blog -- I've waited longer for discount pizza delivery, how do you check in and 75 minutes later welcome life into this world?
Annie: I don’t know! I wish I had done a little more recon! Your labor length is a bit genetic and it turns out my Mom never labored more than six hours. Everyone else had all these horror stories. I was having to take breaks folding laundry, which is not (laughs), labor intensive. On the way to the hospital, we almost turned around because we thought it was another (false start). But then we got there and I was basically already in active labor.
3. Your accounting of the person who came in when you were past getting an epidural was heartwarmingly hilarious -- in your wildest dreams, did you envision labor ever without that shot?
Annie: You know, I had gone back and forth. Like I said, I’m this (laughs) tough athlete. And I have a high pain tolerance. It wasn’t that I thought I couldn’t do it, but I thought why do it if you don’t have to. I had my mental training from swimming. Matt had learned from a friend “counter-pressure” -- to take your mind off the pressure. That helped me. Fortunately, I didn’t labor that long. The last 25 minutes in the labor room were the greatest pain I’ve ever felt.
4. Matt's demeanor -- his game face -- is always so impressive -- how was he when you told him it was time to go to the hospital?
Annie: He had a feeling this was it. I had texted my Mom that I was cramping, and she texted me back that this was the real thing. I was adding some things to my hospital bag, and as I stopped and supported myself on a counter, Matt said, “I think we should go now.” And I was like, “Let’s do it.” He called it. I might’ve waited a bit longer.
5. So right before you, as it turns out, go into labor, you had gone for a THREE-MILE walk -- did that end up helping you think, or perhaps at least get your mind and heart rate to a good place for what was next?
Annie: Oh yeah. In the last couple weeks I scaled back my workouts because your body tells you that you have to. I knew that was a natural way to induce labor. We went on that walk and I felt a little crampy. Then I had a prenatal massage. I did a lot of things to induce labor -- I just didn’t think (laughs) it would work!
6. How nerve-racking was the labor and on a scale of 1 to 10, how intense was the pain?
Annie: It was a 10 on a scale of 1 to 10. They asked me when I got there, and it was a six. They asked me what I could compare it to, and I thought about the most killer breaststroke workout, but a nurse or doctor (laughs) would not understand that. So you can’t use swimming to explain the pain you’ll endure. It was a whole different kind of pain. A full body cramping, that every muscle fiber in your body wants to expel this being. Half of it was the pain and half was the sheer drama of it.
7. You were incredibly strong during the labor -- and your whole pregnancy -- where did that come from?
Annie: Well, I guess any swimmer -- and I have watched a lot of swimmer moms go through pregnancies and not stop working out -- would tell you that we work out and it is important. Other people were like, you’re still working out? I was like, “Yes, what am I supposed to do, just sit on the couch?” My doctor said I could do what I did before, until it started to feel wrong. One of the most poignant things I read is, “Why would you stop working out since labor is the most physically challenging thing you will ever endure?”
8. How much did your life of swimming help you, do you think, in hindsight, with this process and then giving birth?
Annie: You know, since I never experienced it before….I was 29 weeks pregnant when Matt and I were in Hawaii. And there is some discomfort, but I really enjoyed the process. It made me aware of our great God and how we are miraculously designed. After Skylar’s birth I realize how many things have to line up perfectly to have this human life. So I enjoyed every step until the last 5 or 6 weeks, and that’s when you are over the pregnancy magic and ready (laughs) for the product!
9. You and Matt eat so healthy, so smart, and have for so long -- how much do you think that helped?
Annie: We pretty much do our healthy diet all the time. And this is funny because I read something a long time ago about how baby’s taste buds develop, so I wanted to make sure she was craving the right thing, but then in the third trimester all I wanted was sour-patch kids! Nothing could replace that! So I tried pickles for as long as possible but right before Halloween I bought sour-patch kids for trick-or-treaters, but they went (laughs) to Mama instead.
10. You are still a young Mommy, but marrying the right guy, and all the things that came with that -- how much did those key right decisions add to this experience and maybe minimize what is a very stressful event?
Annie: We were talking about the recruiting process, what if I was drawn to somewhere else, or if we had made one different choice? So many things lined up perfectly here in Tucson. Matt and I dated for a long time, we started when I was 20. I didn’t know what I had in the beginning of our relationship. Every year I appreciate him more and more. Watching him dance around with our baby is one of the most heartwarming things I have ever seen.
11. Tell us what you have learned about this beautiful child of yours so far and how amazing is this beautiful child?
Annie: I am glad you can say that after 11 days, I think she is, too! There are certain parts of Mommyhood that are so scary. I just took her to Target with my Mother in Law, and of course she started screaming and I felt eyes on me and I was like, “Ok, we’re not ready for this!” But she really is a good baby. She sleeps a lot. I just get up two times a night so I am not sleep deprived. We’re fortunate Matt’s a stay at home daddy, though he is swimming right now -- and I kind of envy him for that.
12. How long ‘til you are back in the water or training, knowing you, you are answering these on the go!
Annie: I’m not allowed yet. They say six weeks, but I am hoping sooner than that. I am embracing walking as my form of exercise for now.
13. Matt as a father, what makes him good and what have you learned about him through this?
Annie: Matt knows how to love, and anyone who knows Matt, knows that about him. I knew he was going to be a great Daddy. He was almost more emotional than me when we found out we were having a baby. He feels lot, and he loves a lot. I was joking with him; we’re going to have to ask our pediatrician how many kisses is too many because he smothers her with so many kisses!
14. Where does her name come from (first and middle)?
Annie: So when we were thinking of names, Matt was reading through Dutch names. Skylar is Schuyler (in Dutch). And it means scholar, so that’s some pressure on her right away! Maybe we won’t tell her (laughs) the meaning. And her middle name is Lea, which is after Lea Loveless Maurer, the Olympian and Matt’s high school coach. She played a key role in keeping Matt and me together early in our relationship. She’s been a key adviser in our lives.
15. One thing I never grasped, even though people told me, was how much more being a Dad would mean than I could comprehend. And also more time and work, but in a good way -- what's your assessment of the challenge -- and reward -- so far?
Annie: Matt loves getting up for diapers, that’s still his job, but he doesn’t have to do the feeding. I usually get between 8 and 9 hours, and he can get 10 or 11 hours. We thought in the hospital, we might be in trouble because (laughs) we only slept two hours, and that was a shock to the system. Matt was totally silly at that point, but you are pumped with adrenaline.
16. What's that wonderful home of yours like now with another Grevers in it full time?
Annie: Well, we’re still getting used to it! It’s wonderful. I was away from her for a few hours to do something last weekend and I missed her so much I wanted to get back home and love her and touch her.
17. What did you think of the women in Rio, and knowing them all so well for the most part, how good was this US women's team?
Annie: Yes! They were so fun to watch! I don’t remember having a reaction to a race like Maya’s 200 backstroke since Jason Lezak in the relay in 2008! I was on the couch jumping up and down for Maya. We saw her reeling Katinka (Hosszu) in! I just love backstroke for that reason -- that you could see Maya’s expressions, which is why the backstroke is so great. You could see the determination and grit in the last 20 meters. The girls were just exceptional. It was a special group
18. Also, Katie Ledecky's performance -- one for the ages, no doubt, but how do you explain what she did to people who aren't a part of the swimming world?
Annie: I don’t know who can explain that! It’s inexplicable. I don’t know how a human being can be such an anomaly and so fun to watch, and so fun to talk to. She understands the thrill she is giving people now, but she also has a thrill for racing. Matt noted how she was so shy at first about her performances; that she maybe felt it was too much attention, but then she embraced it. I want Skylar to have heroes like her. She has this God-given gift and she’s doing the most to draw all she can out of her mind and body.
19. How excited are you to take your little one to San Antonio and what, maybe when she's a little older, are a couple of the places you will show her?
Annie: Interesting….Well, we will be making our first trip in February. I don’t know if there are any places now. When she’s older I’ll take her to my first pool, and my old high school. Mostly, just to Mimi and Papa’s where she’ll be enveloped in love.
20. Your faith, your maturity, you are always ready for what's next -- but what have these past 9 months taught you about yourself?
Annie: Hmmmmm...well, I have learned that our instincts are really strong. There are a lot of things that are really scary about bringing a child into the world. And we are only 11 days in but I feel really secure in what we are doing. There are just things built into our human makeup that are part of the miracle of human creation. My body knows what I have to produce, for example to keep this baby alive. Also, something swimming instills in you is to celebrate every little victory. That’s how I approached pregnancy, and that’s how I approach this. There were so many things that were surprising, and there were little things to celebrate along the way. And big things to celebrate now. Swimming makes you into an optimist, and that will help you with any path you go down in life, especially during the rough patches.