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What goes through a woman’s mind as she gives birth? Read this true first person account of a normal delivery, and you’ll know the strength of a woman.
July 2015: “I don’t feel like having dinner today, can you fix me a sandwich?” I asked Shahzeel in a pleading tone. It was a rough day.
Families on both the side, apprehended my delivery in first week of July and it was already the 9th. My EDD was July 22, but most deliveries take place before EDD. From the start of that month, I had started to work from home, as his mother and Bua took care of household. We made things very simple. His side came first, which included his mom and Bua, and my mother was supposed to come later, no overlap. This granted assistance for a longer period and obviously the better reason – kept Ram and Rahim at distance (inter religion marriage).
I remember Bua sighing, “Kahi aisa na ho ki hum July end mein chaley jaye aur jiske liye aaye hai woh aaye hi nahi tab tak”. Daily these women used to get up, assist the domestic help to settle my home, perform five-times namaz (Ramadan was ongoing), look at me moving with my conspicuous belly, with a laptop and sigh – no baby!
Honestly, I myself was not expecting the child before mid July, but Mysha had already made plans to meet the outer world. On that particular day, at noon, I got a call from office leading to a heavy-duty work for next week. I was unsure if I could make it, as it was a convoluted project with tight time-line. My husband, Shahzeel too, was working from home; so as soon as I off the phone-call, I blasted, “What the hell? I can’t do this much work. This is insane. I’m not up to it.”
“Kya hua Summy? Batao toh,” he said in his usual calm voice. I poured the details to which he replied, “Fine. Today you just estimate how much time you’ll take and then work on it from tomorrow. If you can’t go through this, let them know, but don’t panic and no stress.” Typical Shahzeel, he just knows what to say when.
I worked, estimated how daunting that task was and wrapped it in two hours. After shutting the laptop, as a ritual, I went for my evening walk. It was an hour break from home, which entailed brisk walk while talking to my mother over phone. As a norm, I filled her with juicy and ugly details of the day. As soon as I came home, I felt different. In order to make myself feel better I resorted to something, which always works – watching FRIENDS (sitcom). As destiny might have planned, I was watching the episode in which Rachael births Emma. At ~9:30 PM Shahzeel came to my room to check – “Summy khana kha lo.”
“I don’t feel like having dinner today, can you fix me a sandwich.”
“Sure. Give me 15 minutes.”
Soon after he left, I felt the urge to pee, right at that moment. I was in full term and bladder control is an issue at that stage. I clinched my legs and before I could rush to a washroom, I felt my harem getting drenched. I knew what it was but wasn’t sure; it was unusual which meant only one thing. Before I could call out, Shahzeel entered the room with gusto, “Sandwich ready”, to which replied with angst, “Something else is ready as well. My water broke.”
Right at that moment, everything changed. Women in the house started running. His Bua started grabbing all that we might need in a hospital. My hospital bag was in place from long, but as an Indian we always have something to be picked at that last moment. My MIL started chanting duas, Shahzeel ran for car and home keys, while I was flabbergasted – Is it really happening? Are we coming back with a baby? No more just Summy and Sheikhu? Finally it dawned on me – Oh God, birthing is here.
I was not feeling any labor pain, only that I was leaking. May be because of stress, or it was time, or of any other reason, my water broke. Driving to a hospital, I saw all three of them tensed but me. I was rather calm, toofaan se pehle wali shanti.
It was a 15 minutes ride, covered in 10. After doing some paper work at the reception, in a blue nighty and green flip-flops I entered the maternity ward and whispered to the male attendant in a discreet fashion, “I think I am about to deliver a child. Can you please ask someone to check?” I was walking like a normal person and was smiling, may be that made him feel differently than he should. After a few minutes wait, a lady took me inside a room, got me attached to all sorts of instruments and informed me, “You have dilated only one cm, we need to go till 10. We will shift you to waiting ward now.” They gave me a delivery gown and allotted me a bed. I bid temporary goodbye to the two women, who then moved to the waiting room, praying to Allah.
I was about to get comfortable in my clean white hospital bed when my gynecologist entered. Post exchanging the pleasantries, she looked at my reports. “You have a long night to go Saumya. Nine cms more to go. We will be giving you two pills now, which will shoot your labor pain. Usually they will get the pain started, and incase not, then another two pills will be given in two hours interval. I suggest you take good rest now. Much work to do ahead”, she smiled as she said it all.
Wow! So simple for her to say. I am just another patient; she delivers babies all the time. Honestly I was scared. I did not know where this was headed, and uncertainty was freaking me. I, as a person, don’t mind knowing suspense of an unwatched thriller movie, and now I was clueless of what my body was processing and how it would go about.
Then came a nurse with pills and I just gulped them down my throat. By this time, I was an expert in gobbling pills. What else have I been doing in last nine months?
Shahzeel suggested I take a nap, but I couldn’t. I was way too excited, if I may say. He took my picture, on the bed in a gown, a smiling one, as the pain has not yet kicked in.
As he found a little time, he called my mom and soon my whole family sitting around the world knew that I was been hospitalized. Prayers and wishes started flooding our Whatsapp. As an hour passed, faint dire noises caught my attention. Shahzeel went to check. An observer of very different mettle, he came and told me that it was nothing and that I should catch on my sleep. We were in middle of our conversation when my gynecologist came and notified, “Saumya we will shift you in your private room right away. I don’t know how much time it will take so better if you rest in privacy.”
I abided; she knew the best I guess. So I was moved to my personal room where I was happy to find a TV set to keep me engaged. The Big Bang Theory was on air at 2’o clock at night. I got hooked to the set and asked Shahzeel to take Ma and Bua back home. “What’s the point of keeping them here Sheikhu? They will be tired sitting all night. If they go home and sleep, they will be in better position tomorrow morning, when I will need them.” After a minor resentment, our thoughts synced and he agreed. The round trip took half an hour, meanwhile the labor journey started for me. “Oh man! Are they coming…labor pain?” More than the pain, the idea of that pain scares you. I read, heard, and learnt so much about them, that I dreaded it. Shahzeel came and so did the amplified pain. It was slow at first but then it escalated and yes, there is no pain compared to that pain. It was unimaginable; I was jumping, looping and did not know what to do to feel better.
By 3’o clock my pain attacks were so frequent and painful that they had to shift me to delivery ward. They made me lie down on delivery table, and till 5 AM I was hauling in pain. With each passing cm of dilation, the pain gets worse. I was cursing Rachel (reference: FRIENDS), who made it look so simple, as she endured 21 hours of contractions. One may ask how I can relate to a sitcom; in my defense, I was not in my best thinking mode at that hour.
Post a check-up at 5 AM a nurse confirmed, “She has dilated five, five cms more to go”. Now this is insane, I was only half way through. “I am going to die.” Yes, this thought went through my head. I looked at Shahzeel and blabbered, “You know I have great threshold for pain, but this is crucifixion. I need epidural, NOW, I don’t care for side effects. I need to have it otherwise I can’t make it through the night.”
He looked at my red cried out eyes and knew what I needed. No discussions happened further. Soon an anesthetist entered the room, ran us through a document entailing pros and cons of epidural, as my pain culminated. I didn’t care for anything. All I felt was – pinch, pierce, slash me, but please get me out of this ordeal. He pushed a needle down my backbone, and hooked me to one more instrument than already prevailing. It took half an hour for the drug to do its job. After a few minutes, I passed out, as pain subsided and sleep took over me. I just remember Shahzeel seated beside me messaging everyone with updates and making sure I get as much sleep as possible. Poor lad did not get chance to catch on sehri (morning food during Ramadan).
My sleep was short lived; as I opened my eyes, the clock said 8 AM and they gave me a green signal for the next step. Dilation period was over – 10 cms was done. It was time for some MORE action. At that hour, when they needed me to use my maximum energy, I was completely drained. “Leave me alone. Let me sleep!!” my head yelled. Then another thought crossed my mind, “this is the last leg, once I push the child out, it’s all going be over”. Hardly had I known it would start with the child.
So the verses were been chanted, “push push”. My gynecologist, along with her two attendants, was addressing me while my husband was made to stand near my head with a towel to wipe my sweaty forehead.
Best part of epidural, I didn’t feel the contraction pains which were most frequent now; worst part – I didn’t feel the urge to push, as there was no pain. They made me push when I got a contraction, which lasted for 30 seconds. In those 30 seconds I had to push with all my might. As I was not feeling the contraction, they were monitoring mine on screen and letting me know when I needed to get-up-and-go.
As they yelled push, I clinched my teeth and did what felt like pushing. I did it once, twice, thrice, multiple times, while they kept telling me that I have to work harder.
“We can see the head! You are doing great Saumya! Keep pushing! Relax once we say stop and save energy for next pushing.” Same sentences kept hovering my ears. May be the reason it was getting hard on me was because I felt that the difficult part is done and pushing, relatively, will be a cakewalk. My thoughts were interrupted, as an unusual sentence poured my ear.
“Baby is in a difficult position and also not in a apt downward place, you will need to put in more efforts.” My heart sank, yet we kept going for another 30 minutes when she said “Its not happening. I will try forceps, otherwise we need to operate.” I was subconscious at this hour, all credit to a tranquilizer dart called epidural and slog called childbirth. She forced a forceps inside me and I gave a faint cry, which my husband remembers, and I still can’t recall. In his words “It was a horror to see a salad tong looking instrument going inside you”.
At exactly 8:43 AM, our fish was grasped and pulled, right out of the calm water, where she stayed in for last nine months. Not only the baby fish cried as she came to the unfamiliar world, leaving her sacred home, but the mother fish gave the biggest cry of her life as her baby was unhooked from her amniotic sac. No amount of pain reliever was efficient enough to release my body that pain. It felt as if my pelvic bones were pushed apart so that an entity could come out of me. Following that bone-scrunching yell, I heard their heart-pounding announcement – “Congratulations!! You’re a mother!!” whilst they placed that 3.02 kgs flesh right on my chest.
From the day I got pregnant, to the moment I delivered, every possible person envisioned me with a baby boy. People looked at my face, my belly shape, my walking pattern, my eating habits, my sonograms (where baby played football all along), the history of men and exclaimed, “Iske toh ladka hi hoga” and here that already-known-to-all-as-a-boy was lying on my chest. I looked at the doctor and asked, “Is it a girl?” “Yes she is”, she said smiling at me. Mother knows the best?
So they took her out of the ward for cleansing. I prompted Shahzeel to follow her and a father’s duty started at that moment. I was done with the doctors, but they were still not done with me. Following delivery, the doctor kept stitching me like a piece of cloth.
Only an hour later, after losing strength, blood and placenta, they advised me to stand on my feet and walk. As I stood up and walked like a zombie; I felt my legs failing me.Throughout my life, I always wondered how people faint so easily? In school, I witnessed others fainting all the time – standing in sun for long hours, while doing march-past, even after a horrid result and I wondered,“why not me?” It’s such a great exemption from all the hard work. As I managed to bag all accolades that night, then why leave one? Only a few steps later, while looking at Shahzeel, I fainted in his arms. I just remember telling him, “Main chal nahi pa rahi hu” and next when I regained consciousness I saw some heads floating on my face, and Shahzeel crying out loud while rubbing my right hand,“Be with me, be with me.” I have never seen my superhero that scared in last 12 years.
“Kya hua tha mujhe?” “Kuch nahi, sab theek hai. Allah ka ehsaan!” he rubbed my cheek as he said. “She is very weak. Please shift her to her private room, I’ll take care of her from there”, my mad man ordered in ire. For the very first time in last 10 hours, hospital staff did as we advised.
His anger was a result of fear — fear of losing someone. It was only later that I came to know, that the noises I heard in the waiting room, the preceding night, was a result of a woman losing her life at childbirth. This in turn led to my being shifted to my private room sooner. I was not told because of the obvious reason, while my husband witnessed and dreaded the thought.
Anyhow, I was lucky and managed to come to my private room, to my husband, to my baby, to my new family.
Bigger part of my journey started from then onwards – handling emotional vulnerability, my body’s healing process, taking care of the baby, learning her feeding pattern, and the list is just getting longe
It was one HUGE day. 10 hours of emotional turmoil leading to lifetime of hurricane. If I have to encapsulate that time in one line – I battled. I delivered. I survived. I brought a new life. A new journey begins!
Published here earlier.
Image source: Saumya Srivastava
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