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…)

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Chapter 10: Happiness is…


Happiness is ever-changing and ever-elusive. You cannot know it until you feel it. Happiness is a walk in the breeze… happiness is a drive in the rain… happiness is a midnight date… happiness is a moment shared.

May 14, 2012

We are in Aligarh. Sajjad is sitting before me on the bed. We’d been away from each other for about 15 days because I came here to meet my mom. He hasn’t felt his baby’s movements yet; when I was with him they were too light to be felt on the outside. He has his hand on my belly as his eyes search my face with anticipation.

BUMP!

That was a huge one!

I’m delighted to see the astonished, wondrous, childlike grin on my husband’s face. He laughs out loud. He is amazed… It’s a moment we’ll cherish forever.

June 15, 2012

This baby is gonna be a really naughty one. Lord knows how she/he manages to do it, but every so often I feel 4 simultaneous kicks (or whatever they are) at 4 different places in my tummy!  There’s hardly a moment when this little one lies still….!

My sister says she can actually see him/her “swimming around” in my tummy! I know what she means, the bulge often seems to “glide” from one end to another… the doctor says these movements are so visible on the outside since I’m so thin and there’s been no fat increase whatsoever on other parts of my body.

June 25, 2012

It’s post-dinner and me and my husband are talking our daily walk around the park. I love these walks with him. Love the wind in the trees, flapping our clothes and sweeping our hair…love the moon beaming gently down on us…love holding his hand and talking softly…  In a way, it’s been a good thing I’ve taken time off from work—with our busy schedules we’d never have got time for these leisurely everyday strolls. It’s moments like these that make life beautiful.

July 14, 2012

It’s raining hard in South Delhi. Monsoon has arrived in all its glory. Sajjad has come back from work sometime ago. He takes my hand.

“Wanna go for a drive in the rain?” he smiles at me.

Yes. Of course. Would I say no?

He’s backing up the car to bring it right to the door so I don’t have to get wet. Our neighbor comes out of his house. “Coming from somewhere?” he asks.

“No, going for a drive!” I giggle.

“In the rain!?”

“Yes…”

But obviously, lost in our fancies we had forgotten that we’re in Delhi, not the Garden of Eden and rains here mean just one thing: Traffic jams. But I have Michael Schumacher for a husband and I could trust him to find the best routes away from the traffic.

Never loved rain so much….

July 21,2012

12:00 a.m.

We’re having dinner at Comesum, the all-night restaurant near Nizamuddin Railway Station. Hadn’t even heard about this eat-out until today. Sajjad’s trying hard to make this right for me, to assure me that nothing’s gonna change between us.

Perhaps it won’t. Perhaps it will. But what won’t change is what happiness is….

Happiness is US. Whether it’s BOTH of US, or THREE of US. Happiness is “Us”.

——————————————————————————-

{Read from the beginning }

(For more good things about pregnancy, read http://thegoodandthegood.wordpress.com/)

Chapter 8: A Kick and A Nose


April 20, 2012

I’m sitting in the waiting lounge of Sitaram Bhartia Institute of Science and Research for my routine check-up. Just like that, out of the blue, there’s something like a pulse inside my tummy. I’m jolted to attention… what’s happening? There—there it is, again! Realisation dawns. I just felt my baby’s very first movements.

Wow.

And this is not the ecstatic, overjoyed kind of “Wow!”  It’s the silent, awed and over-whelmed, eyes-wide-with-astonished-delight kind of WOW… whispered to yourself at the sheer magnificence and un-believability of it all….

Wow. I just felt my baby move.

I can feel myself slowly smiling and wondering.

This is the exact duplication of my reaction when I got the report of my first trimester ultrasound on Feb 18. That’s when I actually saw the shape of a slowly-forming human being… a rounded head, a tiny forehead and—cutest, amazing , most wonderful of all … the NOSE!

The black images show me a teeny, tiny nose; and here’s what the report says:
Nasal bone, measuring 3.1mm.

A 3.1 mm  nose. Wow.

It’s the same wow again. The same smile….

I can see you, baby. I can see your nose.

And now, I can feel you move.

 

So, what was your experience of feeling your baby move for the first time? Feel  free to share !

Chapter 7: Oh, those hormones!


March 1, 2012

4 p.m.

I’m taking a walk outside my house. (Thank goodness I can finally find the strength to go take a walk) It’s spring and there’s a lovely warmth in the air, the sun doesn’t sting yet and there are flowers blooming all around my society. I’ve just finished the light exercises advised by my doctor and I sit there on a raised part of the ground, watching the squirrels scamper on the buildings…. I remember my sister’s amazement at squirrels climbing cement walls… I guess that’s adaptation for you.

Nature makes me happy. Hope my little one turns out to be a nature lover. She probably will, because her father’s a nature-guy, too.  I place a hand on my belly, “See that little furry thing scampering about with its tail in the air? That’s a squirrel. Oh, and this is a tree… And see those pink things growing there? Those are flowers…aren’t they pretty? Oh, darling you’re gonna love it here…”

March 5, 2012

11:30 a.m.

I miss my office. I miss going to work everyday. I hate having to sit at home with nothing to do….Don’t wanna watch movies… don’t wanna read books… miss my office friends, miss our conversations…. Hate having to be like a housewife…. The worst part about being a housewife is that if you want a conversation, the only people available around you are those who will just talk about how irregular the maid is or what’s going on in tulsi/parvati/ichcha/tapasya’s disgusting fictional lives, how clean their cupboards are or how much zeera, adrak and lehsun to put in a particular dish………..aaaaaaahhhhh………..!!!! Give me a break!!!

Ladies, I know it’s wonderful to keep cleaning your cupboards every minute and cook the tastiest dish in town but really, do you ever come across a name in history or general knowledge that says “This person had the cleanest house” or “this person cooked the best food”????       No? I thought so.

(No offense to housewives. I’m one myself, now. The above rant is just a presentation of my thoughts at that point of time.)

March 10, 2012

This isn’t going to be so bad…. Children are nice….mine won’t be like that bawling kid across the block… my neighbour’s anniversary celebration was ruined by her tantrum-throwing kid…nope, mine won’t be that way…. My husband’s cousin says the first 2 years are terrible…nope, mine will be an angel….

Kids are nice, kids are nice, kids are nice……………… They are nice, right?  Right????? Anybody there????

March 12, 2012

I’m watching a movie called Waitress. I can so empathise with this woman, the heroine. She has an unplanned baby. Of course, the reason she doesn’t want it is that she hates her husband and wants to run away from him…quite the opposite in my case, huh?

“Not everyone wants to be a mother, Dawn,” Jenna tells her friend, “That don’t make you a bad person.”

“I respect this baby’s right to thrive…I do not do anything to put it in danger…” BUT. She doesn’t love her child. She doesn’t want it. “Dear damn baby.” That’s how she addresses it when her husband finds her hidden running away money.

Dear damn baby. That’s quite a phrase, isn’t it? Damn baby.

What the hell’s wrong with me??? Why can’t I love my baby? It’s been months! Get over it already, girl!

Jenna gives birth to a baby girl whom she falls in love with the moment she holds her in her arms…the baby gives her courage to set her life right and mum-and-kid live happily ever after.

Will I fall in love with my baby when I hold her/him? Will I? Will I………. ?

March 15, 2012

1 p.m.

Sonia Naik is the best gynaecologist I’ve ever met. She’s my savior.

“I’m not able to eat anything, you know,” I complain to her as she carries out her routine checks. “Just tomato soup the whole time, sometimes bread and butter… I haven’t had a single roti in 5 days. Nor rice. No vegetables. Or dal.  Maybe a little home-cooked aloo ki tikki sometimes.”

“That’s fine. You’re getting enough nutrition. Don’t have to worry.”

That’s not really what I wanna tell her. I’m on the verge of tears, actually.

“You know all this stuff about great glorified motherhood? I think it’s crap.”

I have her attention now.

“Why?”

“I don’t know…I don’t feel anything for my baby. I just feel angry all the time. You know, like I wanna get a punching bag and keep at it the whole day. I don’t feel happy about anything. WHY WHY WHY don’t I love my baby? What’s wrong with me… I feel like crying all the time…”

“That’s just because you’re not well,” she says gently. You’re having nausea, fatigue and all these problems, they’re making you weak and irritable. Once this passes, you’ll be fine and you’ll love your baby.” She smiles.

“I hope so,” I sigh.

“In the meantime, you can just fight with your husband and make him your punching bag!”  she suggests with a twinkle.

I grin. Poor Sajjad!

 

MORAL OF THE POST: You see these pendulum swings? From showing squirrels to my baby to wanting a punching bag? They’re called hormones. That’s what makes us women change from green to red in the twinkling of an eye. If there’s any man reading this, hope you were paying attention.

Chapter 6: One a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns; “May you have no daughters, only bear sons.”


(All rights belong to the nursery rhyme creator; my twisting of the second line is in no way intended to be a violation)

All my blogger friends, most of them pregnant women from other countries sharing their experiences, either know the sex of their unborn child, or are excited because they will get to know soon. Well, in India, this is banned—sex determination, I mean. Know why? Because the family of the unborn child will most likely want to finish it off in the womb if it’s a female. Welcome to our great land.

Alright, so not everyone is like that. Educated city people will not kill the baby, mostly. But they will heave a sigh of despair and people will give them consoling wishes instead of congratulations on the birth. Even the ones who consider themselves ‘progressive’ will spout stuff like “Oh, these days girls are as good as boys and they are also earning and supporting their parents…etc…etc…” which does not really sound like a congratulatory statement, does it?

All cultures value the love of parents above everything else. It’s supposed to be unconditional. So then why do I meet so many parents who want a son because he’ll provide for them in old age, or he’ll be a source of security and a daughter will be a liability because you have to start stacking up the dowry for their wedding right from the time they’re born? (I could get started on dowry and how hateful it is and why MEN need to stand up and speak against it, but this post would become a research thesis then and you probably won’t take the time to read it.)

So what I’m saying is, if parental love is indeed unconditional, why would you prefer to have a child who brings you more benefits (supposedly)? That sounds a lot like a transaction to me.

Anyway, to come back to the point, even before I became pregnant, I’ve been getting “blessings” from a whole bunch of elders to bear a son. Really, now. What about your own self, madam? Do you feel sad that your parents gave birth to you and not to a boy? I’m sure you spend your days filled with self-loathing, cursing the day you were born. Shame.

Okay, so I’m getting side-tracked. Back to my story: Farhan, my husband’s cousin, is living with us right now, and he’s such a godsend ‘cause I have someone to talk to while Sajjad is at work. So, I have these very strict instructions for Farhan:

“Listen, bro, I’m gonna buy a chart paper and a permanent marker, and if I give birth to a baby girl, this is what I want you to write on it and stick outside my hospital room: IF YOU ARE COMING TO CONSOLE US INSTEAD OF CONGRATULATING, PLEASE TURN BACK RIGHT NOW. WE ARE CELEBRATING.”

I’m a religious person, and though I didn’t wanna bring religion into this blog, I can’t help but mention this: When Moses asked the Lord what he does when he’s happiest, God replied: “I create daughters.” I’m so looking forward to having a daughter. But then again, I’d be equally happy if it’s a son. So long as she/he’s healthy, happy and sweet-tempered.

I’m not going to choose. God will choose for me. Because you cannot—and should not—be picky about gifts. Especially when they’re coming from heaven………

Chapter 4 : The Reluctant Mother


I’ve been going on and on about how I’m not in love with this baby. How I’ve hated the world since I became pregnant. Perhaps I’ve given out the impression that I never wanted to be a mother at all. Well, that’s not the case. I like kids. Kids like me too. I wanted a couple of my own, definitely. Sajjad and I would have a lot of fun thinking up baby names, talking about the games we’d play with her/him, keeping nicknames and imagining our life with a new one.

But here’s the catch—I just didn’t want one right now, so soon.

Don’t know about other places, other countries and other cultures, but here in India most people think that getting married=having children. Everyone expects you to become pregnant the moment you get married, if not the next day then the very next month, at least. Woe unto you if you want otherwise.

Relatives, acquaintances, in-laws—especially in-laws—will beat the crap out of your brains asking you about the “good news” and why it’s taking “so long”.

And if you tell them the truth—that it’s taking so long because that’s how you want it—then here’s the well-meaning advice: “If you keep delaying you’ll regret it later. There are so many childless couples who regretted their family planning afterwards.”

Ouch! That hurts. Hurts terribly.

So the more people keep bugging you about it the more you hate the idea of ruining your happily married life.

Yes, I said ruin.

A lot of people think that the only purpose of getting married is to produce children. Not me. Like I said before (Chapter 2), for me marriage is all about companionship and cherishing each other. Yes, you do have children, but –and let me write this in bold—IT IS A BY-PRODUCT OR A PROGRESSION OF MARRIAGE, NOT ITS PURPOSE. What I wanted from my marriage was for the two of us to have a lot of ‘alone time’ together, doing all the things we liked, having those perfect romantic dinners and romantic holidays before a third person came along to share every single moment with us. That’s something that would have happened eventually, but I wanted to have a lot of buffer time before that, so I could look back with satisfaction and think—“Yes, I did all that stuff I wanted to. Now I’m ready to welcome my baby.”

But that didn’t happen. And when the shell dropped, for some inexplicable reason, I got the feeling in my head that I HAD LOST AND THEY HAD WON. All those people out there who couldn’t believe that a love marriage was not going wrong somehow, that we were so blissfully married and my husband was not being the restricting, oppressing mullah they had imagined him to be; all those people who had been waiting for something to go wrong; all those people who had wanted me to feel trapped instead of liberated with my marriage, had won. THEY HAD WON AND I HAD LOST.

And that right there is why I hated the fact that I had an unplanned baby on the way.

I NEVER HATED MY BABY. I resented my pregnancy; I resented the whole world, but I NEVER RESENTED THE BABY.

I felt sad for her…or him.

Yes. I felt sad for this tiny, precious little being who ought to be in a happy mother’s womb, a mother who would be overjoyed to have her/him and would have a whale of a time thinking what fun it would be.  I wanted to give my baby that kind of mother.

I cared for the baby. But I couldn’t be happy.

(Read from the beginning)

Chapter 4: Knock-Knock… @ 144 beats per minute


Jan 14, 2012

9:30 a.m.

I’m at the hospital for my first ultrasound—the TVS, or Total Vaginal Scan, to be more precise.  It’s one of those countless, hugely embarrassing exercises that you are subjected to during the course of your pregnancy. But the reason this TVS merits a mention is here is not because of it embarrassing nature.

It’s on this page because this is when I say “Hello…” to my baby for the first time.

It’s when I hear that sound.

Knock-knock-knock-knock-knock………..

Now, this isn’t like the twin bump-bump, bump-bump of your heart (that your palm feels across your chest) or your spouse’s (that you love to hear across his chest). It’s a steady, thumping knock-knock-knock-knock-knock…. Like a super-fast engine rushing ahead…. in fact, the super-fast little baby in a huge rush to reach its destination.

The sound fills my ears, it fills the room, and I am wonderstruck.

This, this precious moment, is my first pleasant contact with my baby. After days and days of whining, moping, crying and cursing (the world, not the baby!) this knocking gives me one little moment of simple, wondrous pleasure.

“Hello, little one…”   I feel happy.

My first thought, of course, is that Sajjad isn’t here to share this with me. He’s waiting outside and I wish and wish and wish that I’d called him in. I make a mental note to ask him to come inside with me the next time. He’s gonna love it.

Here’s what the report says:

Early live intrauterine pregnancy of approximately 7 weeks.  Heartbeat : 144 beats per minute.

That’s one helluva speed for that teeny-tiny heart, little one!  I can see you’re in a great hurry to be here….