Warning 1: I will be doing a series of posts on pregnancy and childbirth. There’s going to be what some may consider shameful or embarrassing details during the course of pregnancy and childbirth. As for me, I don’t find them embarrassing or shameful anymore. Only those who are mature enough to understand the significance and beauty of nature need continue reading the post. Perverts and immature people may stop reading further. Those with a weak heart, those scared of childbirth, those who are not ready (mentally, physically, emotionally) about childbirth, and those who believe “ignorance is bliss” please do not read further. As they say in movie reviews: Contains spoilers! 😉
Warning 2: The following write up is compiled from my experience and those of friends and family who shared their pregnancy/childbirth stories with me. Every human being is different, so what worked for me may not work for you and vice versa. Please follow caution. Remember I am NOT a doctor. Consult your doctor before following anything that I *may* have suggested here. Its a side effect that all the people who have been through childbirth think they know everything about it – I’m probably no different 😉
Warning 3: Very, very long post.
The First Trimester:
It was about this time last year that my pregnancy was confirmed. I can’t believe its a year already and I can still remember the times like it was yesterday. I was no stranger to pregnancy tests given my medical condition. But this time I somehow knew before the test that I was pregnant. I had pain and swelling in some areas of my body along with the other signs of pregnancy. I had purchased the pregnancy test kit when I came back from office planning to do the test the next morning. But I realized I had no patience to wait and went ahead and did the test. I remember every second of this wait. Although I was sure I was pregnant I had no courage to actually look at the result when it was time, I did not want to get my hopes too high either, you know, just in case. When I finally found the courage to look at the result, I was right. I was pregnant. I felt excitement, relief, fear, doubt, ecstasy and anxiety all at the same time. I still had to pinch myself to know it was all real. I thought I will take the test once more two days later just to confirm and then tell Ashwin about it. But then, I could not keep it to myself either. If I told him now at least there would be another person to tell me this was really happening and I wasn’t imagining things. And so I told him. As I already mentioned earlier, his reaction was “Ok”. No points for guessing what happened after this.
Two days passed in a haze and the second test came positive as well. It was time to visit the doctor and we went the very next day. We chose to go to St.John’s Hospital which was very close to our house. All the doctor did was prescribe me a blood test to be done two days apart to confirm my pregnancy and ask me to come back with the reports. The reports were as expected and on the second visit I was prescribed the routine progesterone and folic acid tablets. She also asked me if I had any discomfort in my tummy or anywhere else, which I did. Hence I was asked to undertake an internal ultrasound scan (for an ultrasound scan upto week 20 or so, one has to go with the bladder full, as in the bladder should be full enough for you to have an urge to pass urine. After week 20, there is no need to have a full bladder. For an internal scan there is no need to have a full bladder). I had already had an internal scan once before for other reasons and was not looking forward to it at all. The radiologist, however, said that the internal scan is only done if the fetus is not visible in the external scan, and thankfully she was able to see the fetus and I was saved an internal scan. The due date came to March 9, 2012 and I was six weeks pregnant at this time.
The scan reports also indicated the presence of the sub-chorionic bleed. I was suggested complete bed rest until next examination in August-end. “No riding, no cooking, no housework, no walking fast, no lifting heavy stuff, get up only to use the washroom and nothing else. Avoid outside food, especially Chinese food, as much as possible”, the doctor said. I was suggested to take a few more blood tests for hemoglobin, thyroid, blood group, Rh factor, HIV and so on. Alongside I also had to have a urine test and a glucose test. I called up my gynaec in Mangalore and told her of this. She too had the same things to say about the bed rest part. All the other reports were normal.
I am not sure if my climbing 3 floors to our house two steps at a time, one floor to my office and walking at my regular brisk pace, or riding my scooter at approx. 50 kmph had anything to do with this but I could not help blaming myself. I was not sure what to feel at this point. Although I did not feel any bonding with what was growing inside me, I was quite disturbed at the turn of events. When I told my manager about this he suggested I take some time off from work. I took 2 week’s off to get the balance back in my head. I had to tell my mom also since I needed help, but I had to pretend I was very, very strong – she is a “panic button” and has the ability to make a mountain out of a molehill. I could not confide my fear to her so I confided in my two close friends who were already moms and they understood. It helped a lot to maintain positivity while I was literally turning into a vegetable. My friend suggested I register myself at www.babycenter.in with my LMP for weekly updates on the baby’s growth and what changes to expect of myself. The weekly newsletters also suggested exercises, food and had several other interesting articles as well. I was not supposed to exercise though. I started working from home until it was time for the next scan.
The mood swings had started already. Fights and arguments increased exponentially. The bright side however was that I did not have any nausea/morning sickness. Instead I lost my appetite. I could not eat anything, not even our usual favorites like egg omlet/scramble, daalithoy, thinglavre ghashi, tendle talasani, etc. The times I forced myself to eat these, I threw up within minutes. After this happened three times, I gave up forcing myself to eat. I literally lived on my favorite fruit – raw guava – during this time. I lost a bit of weight too.
The scanning was scheduled again near the end of August and thankfully all was well. I was asked to take caution yet. I resumed going to work. During this time we shifted from Koramangala to C.V.Raman Nagar. Mom left once we shifted. Since I was not supposed to ride the scooter, Ashwin dropped me to office. I had him drop me off on the main road and I walked the rest of the way to my office which is a little way inside. I did not have time for any other exclusive exercise and this walking morning and evening to and fro office was the only exercise I got, plus cooking and some other household work, including mopping the house on weekends. Ashwin did the laundry and even helped with the dishes and cooking during all this time.
Meanwhile I was devouring all the info on the net, yet again, on pregnancy and childbirth. I had a Sapna Book House coupon with me and what better time to use it? I went ahead and purchased a thick book on the subject (although everything is already available on the net).
Since we couldn’t go to Koramangala for checkups, I visited the clinic that was next door from our house. I felt more comfortable with the new gynaec, Dr. Gowri, and she remained my gynaec until month 8 (I traveled to Mangalore after that). This doctor monitored my weight and blood pressure during every visit, unlike the earlier doctor.
Dr.Gowri collected my family medical history, studied my reports, and performed all the preliminary tests. She suggested a lot of things such as –
– To remain active throughout the duration of the pregnancy
– Drink lots of water
– Include lots of green/leafy vegetables and fruits in my diet, and if non-vegetarian to eat proteins such as chicken meat. But otherwise there was no restriction on any kind of food – I can eat anything and everything
– To sleep on the left side as much as possible to ensure better blood flow to the baby
– Put on at least 2 kgs of weight each month
The folic acid was stopped, progesterone was continued for a couple more weeks. In addition I was prescribed calcium and iron tablets. I told her about my dislike for milk and milk products and asked if the calcium in the tablets was adequate. She said yes. She also told me not to use any medication without consulting her since any drug that I take could affect the baby.
I had itching on certain parts of my body. The doctor suggested that I apply moisturizer on those areas for relief. I used Vaseline body lotion and it helped.
I began to feel the flutterings (early baby movements) in my 16th week. It was apparent only while passing urine and stool.
I was not ready yet to tell everyone. I was still scared and decided to wait until the anomaly scan during month 5 before telling anyone.
I missed going on a team outing from office.
In week 18, I felt the first “kick”. It happened very rarely and no one believed when I said I felt the kick. Ashwin kept saying it was all my imagination until barely two days after I told him, the baby decided to show him that it wasn’t my imagination after all :). The flutterings and kicks felt nice – a kind of reminder that said there was a baby growing inside me, and more of an assurance that all was well.
Eventually my progesterone tablets were stopped, and told to continue with the calcium and iron tablets until delivery.
The hunt for the post-natal care lady was going on from some time without any luck. This lady would be needed to look after the baby and help me during the 40 days after my delivery. Then father-in-law said there was an ad in the konkani newspaper in Mangalore called “Kodial Khabbar” about an agency that provided home nurses and care givers. We called up the agency and got to know he did not have any konkani ladies, but there were about 20-25 ladies with experience in the field and any time we needed a lady, we could call and he would provide one who was available during the time. The price for one month would be Rs. 9000, or Rs. 12000 for 40 days. We paid the Rs.5000 advance and booked a slot for March 2012. More about this in some other post.
My mood swings stopped. I went back to being a normal moody girl that I was before I got pregnant.
Near the end of month 5 my appetite grew…and how!! Would you believe if I said I ate the entire KFC fiery chicken bucket of 8 pc in one sitting? Well, I did, once (don’t tell me eating so much at once is not healthy n all… I don’t want to hear about it :P). At other times, I ate a heavy breakfast at 9 in the morning, had a round of heavy brunch at 11:30, lunch at 1:30, snacks at 3:30, another round of snacks at 7:30 and finally dinner at 9:30. Now I could eat anything n everything. I still fit well into my normal clothes but it was apparent that I had put on weight. My baby bump had started to show by now, although not much. I could still sleep on my back and my tummy. I could still walk at my usual pace. The baby’s kicks although rare were getting stronger.
It was time now for the anomaly scan, which is the most important scan in pregnancy (determines conditions such as Down’s Syndrome). I had this scan in my 22nd week. It was during this scan that I actually felt the “connection” with my baby. At first the radiologist did the routine scan to determine the baby’s health. Afterward I was allowed to have Ashwin inside the scanning room too. The radiologist showed us the baby’s eyes, nose, mouth, spine, limbs and the umbilical cord. He also had us listen to the baby’s heart beats. At ~150 BPM, it sounded like a horse galloping :D. As this was happening, the baby turned around fully to show me the whole face. I felt the baby greeted me with a “hi mom” and a smile. I fell in love with my baby then and there. I cried and still do when I think of that moment. It was such an amazing feeling.
Back at the doctor’s clinic, the reports were studied and was told that everything was normal with my baby. I was given the first TT injection during this time. This injection is given to the backside since it is too painful to be given elsewhere. The pain will remain for at least 3 – 4 days.
With the scan completed, I decided it was time to tell my friends and the extended family about the news. No surprise for guessing that the extended family already knew about this from my parents (they could never keep a secret, especially of this nature :P). And so I was left with only informing my friends. So many of them came forward with suggestions, advice, best practices and the stories of their pregnancy/childbirth. They also told me about some of the things that came later that I needed to know about, such as breastfeeding, skin allergies their child had due to baby powder/soap/lactose, etc. With the knowledge I already had about pregnancy, childbirth and taking care of babies (having been part of a joint family earlier and having so many younger cousins), the additional info helped a lot too, especially the ones about breastfeeding about which I did not know much (since, when my cousins were fed, the rest of us kids were sent packing) and allergies.
I also started getting weird dreams, or rather nightmares. One of them that I remember is- Ashwin and I hop onto the bike and are riding to Bantwal from Mangalore (that is about 25 kms one way). During the journey I keep telling Ashwin that I have forgotten something at home while he keeps telling me that he has double checked everything and we haven’t forgotten anything. When we finally reach Bantwal, I mention to Ashwin how the people we are visiting will be surprised to see us and moreover its the first time they will be seeing our baby. Baby!! Where is the baby?? We both realize that we have forgotten our baby at home!! :-O And just as we get back home we see that baby is just waking from sleep. Thank goodness.
There were so many such dreams during the course of my entire pregnancy.
I missed attending a friend’s wedding.
When we went home to Mangalore for Deepawali, I went to my gynaec Dr. Anagha Kamath at Tara Clinic to show her my reports (Tara Clinic was the same hospital I was born at. Dr. Anagha’s mother-in-law was the gynaec then). She repeated the same things as Dr. Gowri had suggested about drinking lots of water, green leafy vegetables, fruits, exercise, etc. I had planned to have my delivery in Tara Clinic itself and since I had a good rapport with Dr. Anagha, had told her of my fear of childbirth. I told her that I did not want any pain. Told her to give me epidural if its normal delivery or she can deliver my baby with C-section. She laughed at all this and convinced me to go for normal delivery itself. “C-section will be done if and only if the baby and/or the mother is in distress, not otherwise. C-section is a major surgery and is much more painful once the effects of anasthesia wear off… why do you want all that? Moreover the wounds take a long time to heal. Did you think epidural is less painful? Normal delivery is best. Just keep active as much as possible, drink lots of water, use the Indian toilet and you should have an easy, normal delivery”, she said.
I had some other queries also-
– Did I need to book a room in advance at the hospital?
She said no. It is not always able to predict the exact day and time the baby will decide to come. Anytime I have pain, I could come.
– Is it necessary that I save the stem cells from the umbilical cord during delivery? (We had done our bit of research already and had almost decided not to go with it.)
She opined that it was hype and is way too costly. She did not choose to go for it for her own children but if we insisted on having the stem cells saved, it was our choice. (With the doctor’s input we decided for sure not to go for it.)
– Would they allow the husband inside at the time of delivery?
She said no. But if the patient insists they would probably allow. “Let’s see”, she said.
I applied for maternity leave at office to begin from March 1 onwards.
It was still possible for me to sleep on my back but not on my tummy.
The baby started kicking more frequently and with so much more gusto. The kicks felt so wonderful, I can’t put it into words. I made Ashwin sleep with his palm on my tummy every night. For someone who does not like kids I could see that he was changing for the better. He enjoyed the kicks too and named the baby “boxer” :P.
My baby bump was very visible. My walking pace got a bit slower although I was not limping. I could not steer through the crowd as before since I had gotten huge. I could now fit only into my old “parachute clothes”. It was time to buy new clothes. Bought 3 – 4 tops, a pair of maternity pants and everything else that is needed – I did not invest much in it since it would be useful for a maximum of 5 – 6 months only. I fully intended to get back in to my old clothes.
I used to make Ashwin press my back every night, since my back knotted a lot due to all the work. But now since I could no longer sleep on my tummy, I had Ashwin give me a back massage instead. Sleep was usually interrupted due to pain from sleeping on one side too long – I had to turn the other side every now and then. Turning from one side to the other took a complete minute and was usually accompanied by the sound of a few knots un-knotting (is that the word?) all by themselves. I had cramps/muscle catch about 2 – 3 times.
Near the end of month 7, I was given the second TT injection. I was also told the good news that the baby was now in head-down position 🙂
The kicks kept getting stronger and more frequent. The kicks were now visible too. If I looked at my tummy when I felt the kicks, I could see the movements :). It felt weird and wonderful at the same time.
The blood and glucose tests had to be done again and this time the hemoglobin level had fallen and the sugar level was up (having higher sugar poses the problem of gestational diabetes during childbirth and is not healthy). Because of this I was asked to take the tests again two weeks later, on an empty stomach. This time I had to take glucose, and four blood and urine samples were collected at one-hour intervals. This report showed everything to be just under the normal level. “Nothing to fear but see that you maintain the hemoglobin and sugar levels until the delivery”, the doctor said.
With the completion of my 8th month I traveled to Mangalore. Worked from home the last one month. I stayed at my in-laws’ place since there was no internet connection at my parents’ place, and I needed internet access for work. Getting a net connection for just a month felt like too much trouble.
Missed Ashwin a lot and saw him only on weekends usually lying horizontal in front of the TV :P.
The hospital bag was packed and kept ready in an accessible location.
I kept drinking loads of water, did some exercise in my room and helped in the kitchen too. Used the Indian toilet at all times. I was quite surprised that although I was now too huge to the level of “popping out any second”, I was very agile. I did not have any limp, and there was no swelling of my feet either. The speed of my walk was reduced a bit more but otherwise I remained quite energetic.
My baby shower was planned to be on Feb 12 in my 36th week. But one of the uncles on Ashwin’s side expired on Feb 4 and hence the ceremony had to be delayed by a week after observing the 13-day ritual. So my baby shower happened on Feb 17th in my 37th week. Since it fell on a Friday, I adjusted the leave to start from March 2 instead of March 1. It was already late to have the baby shower and all the while I was praying for the baby to not come on or before 17th. Anytime after that would be fine. After all who wants breaking of the waters in the midst of all the puja and the people…and all over my sari (yup, too many movies had that effect on me :P).
After this I had to go for a check-up at Tara Clinic. BP was normal and I had gained 18 kgs (yup, 18 kilograms!!) which is normal too. She performed a scan and all was normal too. The doctor then said she had to do an internal examination. My goodness, was it painful!! I kept screaming like anything. It was over in two minutes. She said that I need not worry for at least another 10 days or so, I still had time. Barely a week after this (and 10 days after my baby shower), the baby decided to see the world 🙂
Next post: Childbirth (part 1).