It’s only been 10 months or so and already a few of the details are blurred – specially the painful parts and I don’t want to forget anything about the arrival of the most important person in my life – my darling Anna.
My pregnancy was an easy one. I was working throughout and even driving myself to office till the very last day. The due date was 21st May and my mom was due to arrive in Bangalore on 1st May which was a Saturday. I could have continued to go to office for a few more days but since Mom was here and I wanted to spend some time at home I decided to take off from 1st May itself. The first week was slow. It was really hot (actually not so hot, it just felt so to me). I was really heavy. And I was bored. I really wish now I had used that time to sleep but then, for the first time in my life, I had trouble sleeping and would spend the night tossing and turning and going to the loo.
Next Saturday evening we decided to go out for some shopping and dinner. Bangalore traffic being even worse than it is usually due to multiple flyover constructions we got stuck in the mother of all jams and ended up having pizza at a nearby place. By the time we got home I had a very bad headache. Couldn’t take a disprin and it just got worse and worse. Finally at 2 o’ clock in the night we went to the hospital. The on-duty doc gave me some safe medicine and I finally went to sleep at 4 in the morning. I know this has no relation to the actual labour but for me that’s when it started. I had vague headaches for the next 2-3 days and spent most of the time lying on the couch with all the curtains drawn shut.
Fastforward to Tuesday night and I started to feel something. Initially wasn’t sure but later it felt like light contractions around 15-20 minutes apart. Early morning we left for the hospital since we didn’t want to wait until the contractions became stronger and get stuck in the morning rush. R used to always joke that we’d name the baby after whichever chowk she was born on :P. Anyway we reached the hospital. Got strapped onto the monitor and was told an hour later that no labour and go home. Sigh. Laut ke buddhu ghar ko aaye. With baby still in Mumma’s tummy. The doc had told me to show up again if contractions were 5 minutes apart or there was some bleeding.
Cut to Wednesday night. Again same story. Mild contractions but this time along with some bleeding. Again went to the hospital bright and early and this time they actually admitted me. Only soon after the contractions completely stopped. My regular doc showed up at around 11 and said that it was very early labour and could go on for quite some time. She said we could stay overnight if we so wished but were also free to go home. She did recommend a scan in which the amniotic fluid turned out to be marginally low, but she wasn’t worried so again we went back home. Double sigh. By now I was really sick of this going and coming home business and this confused baby who couldn’t figure out whether she wanted to come out or not.
As is expected on Thursday night the contractions started again. Only this time stronger. For most of the night they were 10 minutes apart and strong enough to make me cry out. Some time in the night or early morning I also had my bloody show which I had mistakenly thought to happen the day before when there was some bleeding. In the morning (not bright and early this time) we talked to the doc and she said come over. BUT as soon as R put down the phone the contractions stopped. Completely. Messaged the doc saying false alarm, not coming. I was feeling such an idiot then that I burst into tears. But atleast we hadn’t left for the hospital.
Around 1 pm Friday afternoon the contractions started again. R was working from home so it was all fine. This time it was the real thing. By around 4 the contractions were around 5 minutes apart and we decided to leave. This time my cousin S who was staying with us for 2 weeks since her husband was out of town came along with us. She must have been the lucky charm since this time we actually came back with the baby!
We reached the hospital and once again the monitor was strapped on and the on-duty doc examined me. She pronounced me 3-4 cms dilated and we knew it was the real thing. Soon enough I was shifted into the room and labour began in earnest. I don’t have words to describe the level of pain. Initially it was bearable but after some time I couldn’t hold back the screams. I was floating in some endless sea of pain and my grip on reality was getting weaker. At around this time the doc came again for examination and this is when things went from bad to worse for me. The monitor on my tummy which was measuring the intensity of contractions had shifted a little bit and so was showing the contractions to be weak ones. The doc asked me why I was screaming so much for such weak contractions and said that they would more than double in intensity. Actually at that time they were at around 80%. I think I just gave up then. I forgot about everything else other than the pain and that it would never stop. Each contraction had me almost arching off the bed and screaming. All the breathing techniques I had learnt were forgotten and all I could do was scream.
That’s when I finally asked for the epidural though I had been against it initially. At that time I would have happily accepted general anesthesia if it could help me. My regular doc wasn’t too happy about this and nor was R, but I didn’t care. I just wanted out. Once the epidural kicked-in I finally regained my senses and remembered the purpose of it all – my own little baby. The next couple of hours were slow. Initially my doc had estimated that baby would be born around 11 but because of the epidural I remained stuck at 5-6 cms. Doc ordered some other drug and it began again.
This time though I was more focussed. The epidural had taken the edge off the pain and I really managed to breathe through the contractions. By this time mom was a mess and she sat down some was away. R was my rock at this time. He held my hand and kept saying 1-2,1-2 to help with the breathing. In tune with his 1-2 I mentally kept saying ‘won’t scream’ throughout each contraction. S later told me that the way R kept saying 1-2 seemed really funny and she would have been laughing if I wasn’t in so much pain. She still teases him for it :).
Around 2:30 am the doc came to check again. We were prepared for a long wait but she said that I was fully dilated and could start pushing. The room I was in was a labour-cum-delivery suite and in minutes all the equipment was in place, the foot of the bed removed and stirrups put in place and we were ready to go. Mom, R and S were asked to wait outside. Doc asked if I wanted R to be present but I said no. Somehow I wasn’t too keen on his being there at that time. She told me to how to push and with the encouragement of the nurses, on-duty doc and pediatrician present there I got to work. When I look back, this part seems the easiest to me. I couldn’t feel anything at this point and whenever the contraction showed up on the monitor I pushed with all I had. It’s a bit hazy but I don’t remember pushing more than 3-4 times. I think the total time taken was 20 minutes out of which 10 went into the prep part.
Soon enough Anna’s head was out and a minute later she was lying on my tummy and crying loudly. At 3:11 am on 15th May 2010. Mom told me they clearly heard her cry from outside. Gooey and wrinkled and covered in blood and the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Even more beautiful were the words ‘It’s a girl’. I’d secretly been wanting a girl but had somehow convinced myself that it would be a boy. R was called in immediately. I will never forget the look on his face and the tears in his eyes when he saw Anna for the first time. The rest is a blur. The placenta was delivered and I was stitched up but I don’t remember anything happening to me. I had eyes only for my daughter who was being cleaned up.
I remember the feeling of peace I had then. Once Anna was all cleaned up and swaddled and given to us and Mom and S were called in. I was content to just lie there and look at her in their arms. It’s amazing how soon I forgot everything – the pain, the screaming. It seemed as if Anna had always been there and the rest was just a bad dream. I won’t even try to write what I felt then. I’ll never have enough words and there’s no danger of my forgetting that – the most amazing, life-changing moment of my life.