My one concern as I’m in the process of labour is that I won’t be able to “do it” ultimately and that after all my efforts, they’d just have to perform a Caesarean operation. But that didn’t happen and I will always be truly, deeply thankful that I “did it”.
The baby is born.
“It’s a son,” Sonia announces as I grow aware of the suddenly removed earthquake from my body. I did it. I gave birth to a healthy baby, the natural way.
I drop down, exhausted beyond belief. The other doctor—Manju –is removing the placenta. More pain.
“Please. Pleaaase don’t do this…” I beg her.
“Arrey! You’ve tolerated so much pain, what is this compared to that?”
What is this compared to that? It’s a needle being stuck in and moved round and round in your skin—after you’ve been sawed through.
The placenta is out. The pain subsides. Relief.
I am aware that Sajjad is still holding my hand.
“I love you,” I whisper. He holds up my hand and kisses the back of it.
“I did it…” I tell him. I can’t get over that feeling of extraordinary achievement over this ‘normal’ delivery. “I was thinking I wouldn’t be able to do it… I was thinking they’d just move me to the operation theatre anytime now…. But I’ve done it…” I manage to smile at him.
He’s stroking my hair, I think. Not easy to focus at the moment.
Sonia and Manju are stitching me up, chatting like it’s an everyday chore. Which it is—for them, of course.
“God, how hard is this baby crying!” Sonia exclaims suddenly.
It is then that I grow aware of a bawling baby somewhere in the room. I had not even heard him cry…
Sonia is right. The bawling is strong and insistent, unlike the newborn cries that you sort of expect.
“Don’t all babies cry this way?”
I can’t believe I’m chatting with my doctor even as she’s stitching me up.
“They do, but not so much!” she laughs “This one’s just going on and on!”
“I suppose he takes after his mother,” I say this to Sajjad, not Sonia, (with a smile), “His mother’s such a cry-baby!”
“Not at all!” Manju cuts in unexpectedly, “You are a wonderful patient! You took the pains so well, without a complaint! You should just see the tantrums that we get to witness here… but you were so good. You asked for nothing at all, and no screaming either….a little towards the end, yes, but that’s completely natural,” she beams.
That one’s gonna rank high, high up in my list of most memorable compliments ever!
The baby is still bawling. It is then that I turn my face to the right and see my son–lying in a glass rectangle under a bright white light. I see him wailing for attention, I see his body, I see his face—just the side profile—mouth wide open, eyes shut tight.
“Kya hua, kyun ro rhe ho?” (What’s the matter, why are you crying?) I call out to him.
The crying stops immediately. IMMEDIATELY. The baby opens his eyes. I SEE him opening his eyes.
And I have witnesses to prove that.
There is a strange, soft, cotton-candy kind of pleasure in making a baby’s cries stop with the mere sound of your voice. It’s a pleasure that you never, ever forget.
I HAVE ACTUALLY GIVEN BIRTH TO A BABY. A BABY THAT STOPS CRYING AT THE SOUND OF MY VOICE.