I, along with 24 other bloggers are celebrating #9daysofwomanhood throughout Navratri. I've never felt more fierce than during my labour, so this is an apt story with which to celebrate womanhood. Thanks for setting the stage for me Uttara - I loved your blog sharing your experience!
The gynac and I both stared at the machine monitoring my contractions. I'd come in for my regular 40th week check-up, and she'd suggested I check.
"You really don't feel that?" she asked.
"I feel... something," I said. Mostly the need for chocolate and a long walk, but the machine told me I was supposed to be in pain.
"You're in early labour, and the contractions are pretty intense. If you're not in pain, I guess..." she trailed off. "Maybe you could come back later. Be prepared for the baby to come soon."
Uh, no. By now I'd realized that my doctor was the kind who preferred to be safe than sorry. She'd been saying the baby could come any day now for the last few weeks - thanks to my blood sugar being high and the baby's weight being low. But I'd continued to do my yoga, eat well, and hope for the best... and here we were at week 40. So you can excuse my taking her proclamation that I was going to have a baby soon with a pinch of salt.
The next two days flew by as usual. I walked 2km twice a day, shopped a lot, and cooked + cleaned up the kitchen after myself. My mom tried to remind me that I was technically in labour, but I couldn't feel much more than standard PMS. After I wiped down the kitchen on the night of Feb 7, I SMS'ed my friends to make sure we were going bandi-hopping the next day. Hyderabad is famous for its street vendors who sell dosas from 2am onwards. By 5am, they're sold out. For some reason, I hadn't made it to a bandi yet, and I was itching to go visit one before I had the baby.
"Just hold off for one more day," I told my belly. My due date was February 8, but I really wanted a Valentine's baby. I was hoping I could be like most other first time moms, who typically have their babies later than the due date.
I switched from reading a good book to reading a horrible V.C.Andrews trash novel. It was outrageously bad, but I didn't have the mind space to read anything better. And I couldn't not read - that's how I put myself to sleep. For some reason, I was having more trouble concentrating than usual. When the husband came home at around 10:30pm, I was still struggling to make sense of the plot (in my defense, that plot makes NO sense.)
"Are you having contractions?" he asked. My mom had tipped him off that I'd cut my evening walk short by a little bit.
"No, I just need to poop. I'm going to Govind's bandi tomorrow morning, ok?" I said.
I shifted to the loo, but (excuse the TMI), I just felt massively constipated. I tried to figure out my book again, but couldn't.
"Should we go to the hospital?" the husband asked.
"This is nothing!" I said, convinced by all the movies I'd seen and the reading I'd done that the pain would be a whole lot worse. "They'll send us back home. We can't go until the contractions get much closer. I'll go eat my bandi dosas tomorrow, and then we'll go to the hospital later."
(Yes, priorities, dosas over deliveries).
|Pic courtesy machax.com|
I downloaded a contraction timer anyway and tried to time them. They made no sense at all. They came close together and lasted a long while, then they spaced themselves out a bit, and lasted for a shorter duration. I was convinced they'd go away if I could only use the loo. Either way, they could certainly wait until 7am, by which time I could have eaten that dosa I'd been longing for.
"Is it paining?" the husband asked again, at around 3am, when he woke up to find me still on the loo.
"No! I just want to sleep!" I said, trying to figure out what the hell my book was saying. Little did I know I wasn't going to sleep though the night again for the next two and a half years (and bloody counting).
At around 4:15am, I realized I wasn't going to get my bandi dosa after all. I figured I was going to be that woman who went to the hospital and was told to go back home because this pain was nothing. Still, I figured I may as well go, mostly because I wasn't able to sleep anyway, and my husband was starting to get annoyed at my denial of any pain. The Uber driver was petrified I was going to have the baby in his cab, and sped through the nearly deserted roads. In retrospect, I'm lucky I didn't have the baby in our loo. We barely made it to the hospital. A duty nurse inspected me casually... all my research about long first-time labours and contraction intervals made me so sure I wasn't experiencing the real thing, I was quite calm. To my surprise, she said, "Don't move! I'm calling the doctor."
My gynac made it over in ten minutes flat, despite it being a Sunday. Next thing I knew, the room was full of people, and they said I was going to have a baby very soon. I figured they were exaggerating to make me feel good about myself, I was still sort of embarrassed that I'd come all the way to the hospital before I was in 'labour proper.' I asked if I could please use the loo, and the doctor said no, because what I was feeling wasn't poop, it was the baby. That's probably when I realized this was actually happening. The next five minutes were a blur. My waters were burst with a shepherd's hook, and the baby came out in record time. So fast, in fact, that I had to have an episiotomy so that I wouldn't tear brutally. Honestly, those episiotomy stitches hurt more than the labour. My doctor kept telling me not to tense up, and reminding me that I'd barely felt labour. There's no comparison, this was so much worse! I was tempted to ask for an epidural.
Somewhere in there, I managed to ask if it was a boy or a girl. I'd won the birth lottery of my dreams, it was a girl! I can't get over how lucky I felt in that moment; to have not just a healthy baby with an unfussy delivery, but also a girl. It's everything I'd ever wanted. There were tears from my gynac, who couldn't believe how quickly it all went. Yeah, me neither. A few minutes later, I was blissfully feeding my daughter, and that's how I became a mom. Bang on my expected due date, with irregular contractions and no water bursting. Sometimes all the reading you do doesn't prepare you; you get to be the lucky exception to every first-time-labour rule.
Oh, and I'm still waiting to go bandi hopping (or get a full night's sleep!) a good two years later :D If you've a labour story to share, I'd love to hear it! You can check out my co-blogger Anubhuti's story for today here.