Chapter 13: And pain comes in many forms…

Everybody emphasises over and over the important fact that as soon as the baby is born the terriblest part of the pain is over.


Nobody tells you what comes after that.

So, my baby has been born and I’ve been stitched up and cleaned and covered. I’m still in the labour room; exhausted, shaken and lifeless. Sajjad is holding up a glass of juice and I’m sipping it with a straw. It’s a tad uncomfortable drinking this way and I want to shift up a bit, in more of a sitting position (the bed’s already inclined to support my back). I try to scuttle a little upwards. And then it hits me.

Moving my back—and my hips—even a quarter of an inch creates waves of screaming pain inside me.  I cannot move a muscle without grimacing in the most horrible way imaginable. The entire portion is numb, but not numb as in ‘without sensation’. Numb as in ‘heavy as lead, impossible to move without the greatest effort and creating an indescribable, tear-inducing agony’. The mere act of sitting up is so frustrating, so petrifying.

I wish there were more synonyms for pain, more words to describe a sensation that is as much physical as mental. But words can only show you so much and no more.

The events after this are jumbled in my memory. Maybe one came first, the other later? It’s difficult to remember.

My mom’s in the room. So is my mom-in-law. My brother in law has just arrived. I feel happy to see him; that he rushed over from another city at such short notice. But both of them—the in-laws—have started calling up people in a mad frenzy and spreading the good news like I just won an Olympic gold. That doesn’t really make me happy, though. It takes away attention from me when I want it the most. When I’m at my weakest and shittiest. (In case you haven’t noticed I’m a big attention seeker.) And it takes away my man on totally unnecessary phone calls. Grrr….

But I digress. This is the small stuff.

About an hour— or half? — later, after the room’s been cleared of everyone but my mom, they bring my baby back in, to be fed. Now, Lord knows how eager I had been about feeding my baby and no formula-feeds whatsoever. But right now? Do I really have to do it now? I can’t even get up…all I want to do is sleep… (as a matter of fact I kept dozing off in between the 5-minute gaps of labour pain….)

Ok. I have to. Right now. Great, he won’t latch on. I’m not holding him correctly, perhaps. The Lactation Counsellor shows me how.

So, I’m feeding my baby for the first time… this ought to be a wonderful, tender moment… except it isn’t. I’m acutely aware of the pains shooting through my behind.  And the sleep clogging my brain.

But then, after he’s finished, he simply nuzzles my skin with his face, almost clutches me with his fists, and goes back to sleep. There’s a tiny, warm feeling, like a little closed fist, that wraps itself on my heart.

However, there’s no time for joy.

Another nurse arrives and asks me to stand up, walk to the toilet and take a leak.

I look at her as if she’s just landed from outer space.

Get UP?!

WALK to the toilet?!

Have you freakin’ lost your mind, lady?

Of course my ever-loving mother protests and asks for a bed pan for me; anyone could see I was in no condition to get up. Although I’d been told beforehand in the pre-natal workshops that the sooner I did the getting up and taking a leak thing, the faster I would heal. However. Listening is one thing and doing it is another.

But the nurses haven’t been trained for nothing.

“Oh, ok,” she says, coolly. “Guess we’ll just have to insert a catheter to pass the urine.”

In case you don’t know what a catheter is, it’s a tube that’s inserted right inside you to get the waste liquid out. It’s not a thin tube either. And I’d seen my grand-dad use this thing for years. Yes, years. And you can imagine where they stuck it in his body. Yeah, you got it.

I’d just pushed a 7 and a half pound baby out of my body for good. Nothing, absolutely nothing is gonna be pushed in now.

“NO! Please, no. Just help me up and support my weight, please. Of course I can go to the toilet. That’s gonna aid the healing, isn’t it? Of course I’m gonna go.”

It’s a wonder what a little incentive can do…

Turns out, the getting up and going part isn’t the hardest bit.

Not since potty-training in childhood did I have so much fear of the toilet seat. I shakily murmur ten different prayers and hold my breath the entire while, like a person stepping across a field full of landmines. Only, here, I AM the landmine.

For many days after that, trips to the toilet were like trips to purgatory. Feared. Hated. Terrifying. Tear-inducing. But more on that later.

As I’m being wheeled out of the labour room into my room for the next two days, I have just one thing on my mind. I’ve spoken to a lot of women about their childbirth experience and almost everyone said they had absolutely no physical desire for the first few months. Well. Not me.

Here’s what I’m thinking—

(To be read with a panic stricken tone): “OH GAWD this is all so terrible, I have terrible stitches and injuries….ohhhhh I’ll never ever be able to DO IT again!!! Oh how, how, how am I gonna HAVE IT now?? How???? ” (Mental sob)

Then I remember… people just don’t stop having kids after one. They have more. Many more. Which means, of course….

And then it dawns.


More kids?More? MORE???

Never, ever. Never ever is this process going to be repeated, I swear. Never. EVER.


4 thoughts on “Chapter 13: And pain comes in many forms…

  1. I seriously do not have words to admire your writing any more. Everytime I finish reading I feel the same that their can not be any other blog so well written and expressed on this topic. Superb and excellent like adjectives can not express what I feel for your writing. Cheers!!!


  2. I’m a mom of 3, my oldest is 30 so I have a lot of “mothering” perspective. I love how you’ve written so honestly about your ambivalence about becoming a mom. The sacrifices (wanting more time with your husband, to travel, to have long talks) and that fact that, no, not every woman is anxious to get the party started. I’ve had my eye on your blog for several months. I think that most cultures are very family-centric, some more than others. What I find in the U.S. and other countries is that we give lip-service to the idea that women have so many choices for their lives, t hat they can pursue PhDs, even run for president, but mention the idea of a woman opting completely out of motherhood and a lot of people get quiet…they wonder, “what happened in her childhood that made her not want kids? or — Gosh, that seems selfish to not want to share your life with a child. But here’s the thing, and this is the honest truth, we (parents) cannot know what “happiness” will mean for our children when they are adults. I have 2 adult children and I’ve had to learn to step back and let go of assumptions that I may have had when I started my motherhood journey 30 yrs ago. Zehra, your writing is exceptional. Your blog should have a bigger following and I wonder why it doesn’t. Is it because people are turned off by how you write about it? Yes, in fact, I do think that’s it. We think of being family-oriented as wanting to be parents, but that is not the case for everyone. In some cases, the opportunity doesn’t arise, the right partner, biological reasons, etc. I have 2 direct quotes from women who expected motherhood but experienced fertility issues, “I thought if I couldn’t be a mom, life’s not worth living.” The other, “what’s life about then?” With my own teenage daughter, my aim has been to widen her lens for her future. Talk about motherhood in the context of “If…” rather than, “When…” Women are told they are not complete unless they become moms and this isn’t fair. Many don’t want it; they can’t have it; or they want some other goal even more (life’s about choices; sometimes we cannot have it all). A woman I interviewed, a teacher in her 20s, wants to be “a hero” to underprivileged inner-city kids; this is her passion. She doesn’t want her own kids, yet others will call her selfish. Her own mother makes her feel guilty for not giving her grandkids. Is this fair? I don’t think so. If I push my “wants” onto my children, they may walk away. Others have walked away from family or friends because they get tired of guilt or pressure. My book, The Female Assumption, will be published this October. My website will announce the actual date when it’s ready for sale — Thank you, Zehra, for adding such an important voice to this discussion. I wish you peace in your motherhood journey.


    • Thank you Melanie, for taking the time to go through my post and express your feelings here. I loved reading your perspective from the other end of the world. And here I thought we Indians were the ones doing it ! I do remember my mother in law constantly telling me that a woman isn’t complete until becomes a mother. While I respect those who want motherhood more than anything else, I for one cannot say that it is the be all and end all of my life. Well, your oldest is older than me by 3 years, so I can learn a lot from you in terms of life experience! And I am really flattered that you think I should have a bigger following. I am very very happy though if I can have just a few keen ‘followers’ like you. Incidentally, I am a profesional reviewer of books so if you’d like me to review your book for you, I’d be happy to do it. And I love the title. Take care!


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