Chapter 11(ii): CHILDBIRTH (II) I’ve given birth to a baby. Yes, I truly have.


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.

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Chapter 11 (i): CHILDBIRTH (I) “So WHO termed this a NORMAL delivery??!!”


NORMAL.

An adjective defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “Usual or ordinary; not strange.”

Normally, I refrain from using cuss-words.

WTFFFFFF!!! Who the hell came up with this bright idea of calling a vaginal birth a “Normal delivery”? Will the stonehearted brute/birdbrained idiot please stand up?

I could have understood ‘Natural’ delivery. This horrendous, ghastly, third degree torture is indeed the path chosen by Mother Nature to bring babies into this world. Even ‘Natural’ has a gentle feel to it, like something tender—which does not come remotely close to the terrible, terrible process that childbirth is.

But Normal? NORMAL, for Christ’s sake???

Makes it sound so ordinary, so commonplace.  Nothing worth fretting about. Just like the definition says: usual.

Talk about adding insult to injury. Literally.

Sep 1, 2012

3:00 am

I’m woken up in the wee hours of the morning by a terrible backache. Oh no, It’s that pregnancy yoga, I think. Maybe I stretched a little too far this time.

I don’t know how to define labour pain. Some people say it’s like a bolt that moves from top to bottom in your abdomen. Wasn’t that way for me. All that I kept feeling was a terrible, terrible pain in my lower back and thighs. It would throb and throb and return like spasms from time to time.

Wasn’t so bad as to make me scream. But it was bad enough to make me hyperventilate. And a weird kind of shivering took control of my legs every time the spasms came. I thought I’d start running round and round in circles like a dog that has gone mad.

However, my mum had defined labour pains as “Someone sticking a knife in your stomach repeatedly.” (Again, WTF?!) Well, I didn’t feel quite that way yet so I thought that it wasn’t time for me to scream. Mum-in-law’s practical experience came in handy or I would’ve had to give birth at home.

Before we go any further, I’d like to clarify: I’ve always wanted a natural birth. No painkillers, no epidural and certainly not a C-section—which has become the norm in India now. (Sonia, my gynae said women are actually asking for C-section.) I did everything advised by my doctor (and my mom-in-law)—exercises, walks, balanced nutrition, extra prayers and anything else anybody cared to advise, just so I could have a natural birth.

I wasn’t scared of the labour pains, I had chosen this option. However, choosing it doesn’t mean you’re prepared for it.

8:00 am

We’re inside the labour room at Sitaram Bhartia. The pains are getting terrible. Walking around helps.  But then you have to be strapped down so that the kid’s heartbeat can be monitored and that increases the pains manifold. It’s like a violent earthquake that begins in my belly and goes right down to the thighs, splitting my body in half….. ughhhhhh!!! My thighs shiver violently each time. Doctor says its ‘coz I’m so thin—I gained only 5 kgs during my entire 9 months.

(Still not screaming, though. Feel proud).

1:30 pm

It’s been more than 10 hours since the pains started. I’m strapped down and in the middle of my most horrendous nightmare from which I can’t even wake up. I cannot make sense of anything anymore. Sonia sternly orders me to let go of her collar. I look at her blankly coz I don’t know what the hell she’s talking about.

“Let go of my clothes,” she points out. I realize dazedly that I have her clothing in my fist and I’m violently pulling her. At which point I let her go and promptly catch hold of the nurse—in exactly the same manner.

“Hold this railing,” Sonia orders me again. It’s good that she’s being stern. Nothing short of that would get my attention right now.

I will not go into the particulars of childbirth, since I am not, nor ever wanted to be, a medical practitioner or biology teacher. There are only two things that I will never forget about my birthing experience.

One:    The man I love was by my side during this most ghastly, petrifying, absolutely worst time of my life, holding my hand. This won’t be such a novelty to my blogger friends, but considering that I come from a small town in India where people are astounded to know that in Delhi, one family member—any family member—forget husband (at which mention their eyes might pop out of their heads) is allowed inside the labour room during delivery. So you can imagine how unforgettable and unique this was for me (and all my small-town relatives).

Two :  The SNAP! that I heard as I jolted back my head in one piercing, agonized wail as the doctor performed an episiotomy –basically cut me open—so that my baby was born.

Normal…? !!!

You gotta be kidding me.

(To be continued…)