Childbirth – Part 1

Read about my pregnancy experience here.

It was Saturday, the 25th of February, marking the first day of Bantwal Teru of 2012. Ashwin was in town and had gone to attend the pooja in Bantwal with his father. I had decided not to go since I knew it would be too tiring to travel and spend so much time amidst the crowd. I was all of 38 weeks pregnant then. Moreover I had a bit of discomfort the previous day with pain all over my body and I did not want to risk anything. Perhaps to not go was one of the better decisions I took in a long while. Because at around 3:00 PM in the afternoon I started experiencing mild pain all around my tummy. From all the friends and relatives I knew this was contraction – the pain was shooting upwards from the lower tummy and was unlike any other pain I had experienced before. I disregarded it as false labor because as per the doctor I still had a few more days to go. Moreover from what I heard/read, babies when it was time for them to arrive, their activities lowered down. But that wasn’t the case with mine – the activities were still strong. I decided to monitor the time gap between the contractions and the duration of the contraction, just in case. I observed that there wasn’t any pattern – the contractions came after half an hour once, some times after ten minutes, and once, after an hour. It had all signs of false labor.

When Ashwin came home that night, I mentioned to him that I felt the baby would come sooner than expected. He, like you would know by now, only said “Ok”. My mother-in-law was nearby and having heard me, inquired as to what was happening. I told her. She got worried while I was calm. She told me not to take it lightly since every woman’s labor is different – as in, some women have to endure only a couple of hours of pain, while others may have pain for days. She urged me to go for a check up immediately. It was 8:00 PM already. I knew the doctor would have left her clinic. But I gave her a call and the phone connected after two more calls; she was driving home from the hospital. She told me come to the hospital as soon as I could and said she would come too.

Had Ashwin carry the hospital bag, dumped my mobile, novel (I was reading The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien), toothbrush and mobile in my handbag and we were off to the hospital. We had to wait for about 15 minutes for the doctor to reach. She immediately took me the labor room and since she could see I wasn’t in much pain just asked about how I was feeling, since when I was having the pain, could I feel the baby’s movements, and so on. Meanwhile she had me lying down and was feeling my tummy for the contractions. She also instructed one of the nurses to check my BP and to monitor the baby’s heartbeat with a device. And then, she said the dreaded word – “internal examination”. In the midst of my screams, the examination was done and I was told that all was well. The water had not broken and it looked like false labor. I still had time, she said, but she also told me to get admitted in the hospital that night since it would be less risky and less hectic if the contractions were to go into active stage sooner than expected. All this took about 20 minutes.

We were put into room number 108 on the first floor of Tara Clinic. It was a basic room – a bed on either side, one cupboard-cum-shelf, one table, sink, toilet/bathroom and the bane of my existence – TV. We had dumped our “luggage” and were just getting comfortable when the nurse called me once more to the labor room for “preparation”. In the next twenty minutes she “prepared” me from the naval downwards so that I was ready either for natural or C-section.

When I called my parents in the night they wanted to know if I changed my mind regarding attending a cousin’s wedding the next day. The wedding was to be held in Udupi (about 50 kms from Mangalore). I had decided not to go for the same reasons as for Teru. I decided not to tell them about being in the hospital. I did not want to press mom’s “panic button” and dad is a “radio” – the entire world would know I am in the hospital before I hung up the phone. And there were chances they would cancel their plans of attending the wedding. I did not want that right then because, after all, this could be just a false alarm. Ashwin spent yet another night in front of the TV and me engrossed in my novel after an argument with him. On the side I logged my contractions in a notebook. I monitored the contractions (which were getting stronger and more painful by the hour) until about 1:00 AM after which I fell asleep. The contractions kept happening now and then and I did wake up many times in between to change sides but I did not let it bother me. I was just glad that the 9 months’ wait was finally coming to an end and that I would have a baby in my hands soon. Plus the fact that I could finally sleep on my back. I realized how much, in all my life, I had taken that part for granted. I mean, sleeping on my back felt like such an indulgence.

In the morning, the nurse came to check my BP and it was normal. I also informed her that my contractions were more painful than last night but there was still no pattern. She felt my tummy and told me the same thing the doctor had told the previous night. Since it was Sunday, the doctor could not be expected to come to the hospital that day unless there was emergency. But, it seems, the doctor had informed the nurses that she would come check on me at 11:00 AM or so. The doctor came at the said time and after she examined me, she tole me to continue staying in the hospital for yet another night since the contractions were getting painful. Couple of hours after she left, the contractions got less and less painful and finally in the afternoon it stopped !! “Whaaa…?!! Come back…”

Ashwin started cribbing about going home. “Its over, right? Why to stay? Ask them to discharge. Let’s go.” I was reluctant. I did not want to risk giong home right then. An hour later Ashwin repeated the same thing. I wanted to wait. What if just like it stopped, it started again and this time for real? But Ashwin was getting impatient and I was getting irritated. When I asked the nurses if I could go, they said I needed the doctor’s permission for it. Tried calling the doctor but she would not receive. After repeated calls one of the nurses picked it up and told me that the doctor had left her phone in the hospital and gone home, and if I wanted to talk to her I could try after half an hour since they were sending her mobile with her husband who was in the hospital on rounds. They said she would come again some time around 6:00 PM anyway so we could wait till then if we wanted. Since it was already 4:30 PM, we decided to wait and meanwhile went out to have snacks at Mohini Vilas and ice cream at Ideals πŸ˜‰ (small pleasure considering that in Bantwal, people were eating dalithoy with all the accompanying sound effects, on the second day of Teru πŸ˜‰ ). Once back, we settled down with our usual – he with his TV, I with my novel. There was no sign of any pain. But just as the clock showed 5:30 PM, the pain started again and it was more painful than it was any time earlier.

Finally the doctor came at 6:30. She examined me again and told me that this time the contractions were for real. She asked me if I could feel my tummy muscles tightening and loosening. I did. She added that the contractions were still in latent stages though, and it would take time for the baby to come. And then once more the internal examination (every time the internal examination was performed I screamed and howled in pain…and the nurses kept telling me how this was no pain at all !!) was performed. I was safe for now. She told me that along with the pain of the contractions I would feel the tightening and loosening of my tummy muscles and I would know that the contractions were for real. She asked me what I wanted to do – did I want to get discharged and risk going home now and come back once the contractions reached active stage, or did I want to stay at the hospital and wait. I said I did not want any risk. I knew I could not work nor would I be able to sleep now that my fear of childbirth was on the brink. I started panicking. Better sooner than later, I thought, and asked her if it was possible to speed up the contractions and still be able to deliver normally, and would it ok to do it…and was the epidural ready and available. She said yes for everything. I went and spoke to Ashwin and decided to go with it and requested the doctor to proceed with it. Just as a precaution she took me to the ultra-scan room and performed the ultra-scan once again. All was well. Half an hour later I was given the injection.

Outside, Ashwin was ready with the car keys to go home for dinner. I was aghast. Now that I was given the injection, I thought he would have given up on the idea of going home. But apparently not. He said we’ll just have dinner and come back in max one hour. When I asked the doctor, she was aghast. You are not supposed to go out now, she said. But after a while she gave in and told me not to delay more than an hour. It was 7:30 PM. Went home, had dinner, and we were back in the hospital by 8:30 PM. One of the nurses brought a bottle of glucose and put me on drips with the fluid draining at the slowest possible speed.

When I called my parents later in the night, they started giving me updates about the wedding and when they had told everything I broke the news to them that I was in the hospital. Some “aah, ooh” later from mom’s side, I told her come to the hospital the next day because Ashwin would not and could not handle a baby at all. I told her there was no hurry, that I was fine, that she need not panic and come only on the next day. She was convinced somehow and so it was decided that she said she would come the next morning along with a few things she had said she would get (old clothes, etc). I was exhausted. I wanted to sleep early but it was impossible. The pain kept on getting worse. I somehow convinced Ashwin to let go of his TV for just one night…it could be the last night of “just the two of us”. Just as he got up to put off the tv, there was a knock on the door and guess who? My parents along with our family friends!! At 10:00 in the night!! I was sooo annoyed. For one, I did not want to see anyone that night, not even my parents. Secondly, I had convinced them to not come and it was decided that I would see them the next day. And thirdly, I was exhausted and whatever little energy I had left I wanted to spend with Ashwin. I was sooo irritated that I could not even pretend to be happy. After staying for some time they left. I was totally exhausted by now. I did not know whom to get angry with – with Ashwin who was getting ready to sleep himself, with my parents for coming there, or myself for telling them that I was in the hospital. Once they left, the nurse removed the drips and I fell into a disturbed sleep – part anger, part pain of the contractions.

I was sleeping on my left side and just like that there was this sharp pain as if someone was holding my internal organs in a death grip. I could hardly move. It remained for a few seconds and vanished only to return sometime later. Now there were two separate and distinct pains I was experiencing – one was that of that contractions with the pain shooting upwards from all around my lower tummy and the second, that cramp like thing on my left side. With a little trial and error, I found that the pain on the left side considerably lessened if I slept on my right side.

Some time in the night I woke up to use the washroom. I went in all right but when I came out I could hardly walk the last two steps to the bed. Nor could I reach for the call bell to buzz the nurse. Leaning on the wall for support, I woke Ashwin and asked him to call the nurse. He helped me to the bed somehow and called the nurse. She tested my tummy and informed me that the contractions were still in “latent stages“. Can you believe that? Still in latent stages!! And sooooo much pain in latent stage, my goodness!! I told the nurse that I just could not take it any longer and asked her if it were possible for me to deliver the baby now with C-section or whatever. She looked at me like I was crazy and left the room only to return after a minute with an injection. She told me that it would help me relax and that I would wake only if the pain of contractions proceeded to active stage. It was 2:00 AM. I slept till 4:00 AM and could not sleep much after that but the pain was relatively lesser than before. I kept tossing and turning until it was dawn, very aware of the pain in every part of my body.

To be continued…