The ninth month in a pregnancy is the longest. The mom in me had slept enough to last a lifetime (now I wish I had slept even more). Just like everyone in the family I was eagerly and anxiously looking forward to the D day. I feel that the excitement that makes women come this far (with experiences like never before) gradually turn into a desperation to get it over with, to deliver the baby as soon as possible. After all, nine months is but a year minus the three months.
My doctor had now started calling us every forthright for a checkup. I could not help but relate my situation to an inmate of the Big Boss House. With every passing week, the tasks assigned become tougher. It was not just the exercises that doubled but also the pep talks! I was advised to practice squatting exercises (you are reading about somebody who was naturally blessed with a fairly thin body and so gyms were always the last thing on my mind!). The food on the plate, I was told, could be made spicier to initiate labor (for general information, the labor pains in a pregnant woman is a sign of the baby trying to make its way out into the world). My mother in law insisted I should sit on my haunches and mop a portion of my bedroom (Thank the heavens she didn’t say the entire house). Every time I did so, I imagined our house maids delivering babies with ease (damn what a profession!)
We often hear our mothers quoting their gynecologists with confidence. For any first time parents to be, the journey is uncertain. A gynae sets the tone for the future days and nights. My gynae was a well experienced doctor. She never over prepared us for any of the ultra sounds. I remember one session where the doctor needed to capture the baby in a side lying position but could not because the baby was sleeping (or maybe showing her rigid traits already!). Finally, as directed, I reluctantly gobbled on chocolate bars and orange juice (remember my low preference for sweets back then).Every visit to her made me confident about my baby and we developed a level of familial comfort.
Your doctor will not just be responsible for your physical well being but also psychologically preparing you for the arrival of a new life and new you.
Meanwhile back home both the mothers prepared the mandatory dry fruit laddus. As the science of pregnancy goes, the body of a woman undergoes major changes after she delivers a baby. To prepare her body for the challenges of motherhood, panjiri, dry fruit powder and several herbs that I had never paid attention to before were brought in the house. The love of my mother and mother in law showered in the preparation of these delicacies, which were packed and kept aside for the coming days.
So, coming back, this was week 40 and just for a quick update week 42 is when most doctors give the option to induce labor pain or opt for caesarian delivery. Everything in my case was going just fine and I was preparing myself for a normal vaginal delivery. However on the onset of week 39 we got an ultra-sound done and the reports showed less amniotic fluid which they said could cause some complications if we opted for a normal delivery. The amniotic fluid is the scientific term for the water in the womb in which the unborn baby floats. It also uses it to sail its way into the real world. We agreed for a Caesarian delivery. So ladies make note, drink as much water as you can. Even though I had gallons of coconut water but I assume my baby had other plans.
The D Day:
The last month of pregnancy is also about keeping oneself abreast with the delivery procedure. If not with the crass details which can gross out many, at-least one should be aware of the process superficially. I was prepared for a C section delivery and followed the tips from my doctor:
- The expecting mother should stop eating eight hours prior to the C-section.
- The intake of water should be minimal.
- Post-delivery the hospital stay will last minimum 3 days (or more depending on the examination by the doctor) so carry at-least 20 cloth diapers or nappies.
In my case, I had packed my hospital bag with cute star printed cloth diapers (the love for tiny things had started to grow already) and some old clothes because the baby skin is sensitive to new fabric.
My husband, my mother in law and I headed to the hospital with our respective game faces. After the initial check-up, I was admitted. The thrill and excitement was totally unmatched (no wonder my mother in law was happily capturing every moment).
Around 2.30 p.m. I was taken to the OT and this was when my heart started racing. The medical lull of the OT did not make for a very pleasant ambiance. I was surrounded by nurses (both boys and girls) and most of them wore the monotonous expression of routine drill on their faces. Around 2.45 pm, my gynecologist entered and her voice was the most comforting thing in that awkwardly silent room. I was made to lie down and a huge set of lights beamed in my eyes (exactly the ones I had grown up watching in hospital scenes from cinema). Thankfully, before beginning they covered my eyes with a flimsy cloth. I also remember being greeted by an unfamiliar voice who did some small talk and wished me well which I later came to know was the pediatrician in-charge. I could hear the doctors talking through the process (which lasted not more than 30 minutes) because only my back was on epidural (which means my body was numb from waist to legs) while the rest of me was wide awake.
So on 27th November 2018 at 3.11 p.m., by God’s grace we were blessed with a baby girl. The first cry of my girl was a relief and I was thankful that the doctors did not have to turn the baby upside down and pat her small bums to make her cry (remember how they do it in movies all the time).
For a first time mother, my expectations were solely based on images that I came across on social media. I expected to pose for a camera with the husband giving a peck on my head and the baby smothered by our lovable hug (of-course we have clicked many such pictures now but could not back then). In the real world, the doctor congratulated me and let me have a cursory look at the baby and with her went outside to the awaiting family members. Right after this, the baby was taken to a neonatal care unit (for noting her vitals) and I had to wait for an hour before I finally held my baby girl. On the emotional front, I will be very honest when I say that I was not very overwhelmed on holding my baby for the very first time. I was most definitely relieved but not at all teary eyed. Don’t worry about the feelings: motherhood grows on you eventually!
The following days in the hospital were like a crash course for the roller coaster ride that awaited us. I was unprepared for the feeding journey, which is different in the case of a surgery. A mother takes at-least a week to begin lactation. While I was worried for the baby being fed formula milk, a famous commercial by Amir Khan played in the back of my head that said “janam k baad pehla ghante shishu k lie maa k dudh sabse zaruri hai” (the first hour after birth, mother’s breast milk is crucial for the baby).Sorry to disappoint you Amir!
The doctor in charge prescribed some home remedies to speed up the initiation of milk production. Apart from the regular medications, I was asked to consume cumin powder (zeera) with milk. Funnily enough, I got a frantic call from the husband who was rattling with the kitchenware and had no clue where I kept zeera while he went home to fetch it .I learnt my lesson; familiarize the husband with the kitchen (although even this familiarity may breed some contempt ).
We were joined by my family as well and each one of us was ready with the cameras. My sister prepared a sweet message for formally announcing the arrival of our baby girl (mandatory social media update). Friends and relatives called and texted for the customary blessings. One of the messages that makes us laugh till today is the phone call of one of my husband’s client who on hearing that we had a “girl”, said, “oh chalo koi nahi badhaiya” (never mind Congratulations!)
As for the date 27th November, we will never outgrow the joy of holding our baby in our arms for the very first time. Those tiny feet and fingers could melt any heart. My husband and I were grinning from ear to ear, until of course the effect of drugs started to fade and my body began the healing process.
Note: A baby is going to change your life.
Spoiler Alert: For the better!