The story of why suddenly after seven years of marriage we decided to take the plunge, so to speak, is a longish one. Fraught with emotion and all that. Many of you who know me personally have heard the genesis of the child's name and so on. We will not go into that. This is a birth story, purely.
I was HUGE. I mean, humongous is the only word to describe it. For someone who started off at 5ft 1in and 48 kgs, I had come a LONG way in the eight-odd months. When my thirtieth birthday rolled around in early april, I was huge and quite uncomfortable. But the baby was doing well and had a tendency to stick its tongue out in ultrasounds. Its nose seemed to be big, in keeping with family tradition. The due date was in early May though I was sure (as was everyone around me) that I would not last that long, considering my size. I was quite healthy (not even a single touch of cold or other things!) and actually quite active, going on walks with mum and working the whole entire time. I also managed to retain my tendency to stress about everything under the sun from the beginning, and had several trips, including one to Germany for work, in my second trimester.
I was going for these exercise classes too, once (or was it twice) a week. We would drive all the way to Bandra, with a little bag containing some biscuits and juice and what not. I was in this room full of pregnant girls, each one looking more beautiful than the other. I stuck out like a sore thumb with my neck having turned all black and brown, and my disproportionately large belly (even for a third trimester). But I LOVED the exercises. It was some yoga like thing. Whatever. Since I could not do anything besides walking and this, I really spent the whole week looking forward to the class, the teacher being a floozy notwithstanding.
She advised a regimen consisting of duck walks and squats and so on and so forth. I did them all diligently. I was up to some fifty squats and many duck walk sessions by mid-april. This stuff is supposed to help with normal deliveries. The ob-gyn had not said anything to indicate it would be otherwise. My mum had her doubts, you know, because even for a family of small people, I am small. But she kept them to herself until after, because I was so gung-ho about a normal delivery. My logic of course being that I am athletic so I should be able to do this, easily. (I am dorky sometimes!). On hind-sight, whenever I brought up the topic of pain-killers during delivery the doc would quickly move on to the next thing on my list.
The last week or so before I went in was real painful. I had itchy spots all over. My blood pressure showed up high one time. I was a bit stressed about some responsibility at work (which I managed to fulfill two days before the hospital). The head had fixed and it was exerting immense pressure. I was in pain and that itchy stuff. We tried barley water and neem and all external things but finally the doctor prescribed some anti-histamine (which I did not want to take, I think I just took one dose of it finally).
At the hospital, we were whooshed through the check in. Clearly my labour was not progressing fast or anything. They prepped me anyway and left me to languish till the doc came. I did duck walks and squats and read all the baby mags again and asked mum a billion questions and made the husband again promise that he would not gallivant away anywhere. Finally the doc showed up (on hind sight I love her, though at that point I was a bit uhhhh). She took one look and declared, we need a C-section tomorrow afternoon.
I was shocked to say the least. I pushed her saying I am strong, I can do this, I want a normal delivery. Honey, she said, the baby's head is bigger than the space you have in your pelvis whichever way you look at it. I was like, but doc, you never told me this last week. She was all calm and composed and said, fine, if you don't believe me do this Xray test that will tell you in numbers. You engineers will only believe numbers right, she joked at the husband and me and left.
I was quite a bit disappointed. I am not scared of surgery. I am scared of very few things that I need to do. But I was so all ready for the pushing and scratching my husband's hand and also, at that age I was very proud of how strong I am, despite my small size. The husband never has opinions on these things, just mirrors what he sees in my face, so he was also a bit disappointed. Anyway as I was being wheeled to the Xray thing (they refused to let me walk, although I assured them I was quite capable of it!), we both simultaneously reached the conclusion that we did not need the Xray. If surgery was what it was meant to be, so be it. We had thus far trusted the doc and I had a perfectly healthy pregnancy, even if I was so big. We did not want to expose our little baby to the Xray, even the ultrasounds we had managed to do the minimum number. So...
The hospital staff was quite irritated but they brought me back. Mum started laughing at us. We called the doc and told her our decision. She said good. Don't eat now till morning. Uck. I was hungry. And a bit worried. Constantly checking on that monitor thing that the baby was fine and so on. So big I could not sleep. But at least the itchiness had subsided somewhat.
In the OT they made a fuss about my husband being there. He stood up to his full height, used his charm on the doc, and with extreme excitement donned his scrub and hat and showed up. I was excited. I could feel them cut me open, it was pain of a sort, but I could bare it (maybe the anesthesia helped :-)). And I was super confident that with my husband there and the doc there things would be just fine. When they started exerting the pressure on my chest it hurt like hell, and I was constantly feeling like throwing up and asking the nurse who just smiled at me.
It was all over in what felt like minutes. The husband was beside himself with joy. Jumping in his green scrubs. The baby was a pink-faced, curly-haired skinny but tall girl. The feeling at the sight of her and at the sight of the grin on her father's face is undescribable of course. But I was tired and still feeling pukey. They sewed me up, the doc all the time exclaiming at how good a cut it was and how nice the baby was. That feels good huh, when the doc and others tell you your baby is 'beautiful' (even if it does look like a little red monkey).
The first few days after the surgery were painful. I was super worried about feeding. I mean, I extremely strongly felt like the baby should be completely breast-fed and did not want my surgery, anesthesia or anything to interfere with that. She kept sleeping though, much to my worry. In five days I was home (I stayed an extra day simply cause I was quite sleep deprived already and looked tired) and we started getting into a schedule and what not.
The surgery itself was fine, no complaints. Over the years I have come to agree with the doc that the incision she made is 'beautiful'. The baby's head was nice and round, which is a good advantage over the normal delivery. :-) My incision healed super well and super fast, it has never prevented me from doing anything. Eight or nine months after that I ran the Mumbai 7k race (and trained for it with 3k runs for about a month or so). Feeding was no issue, my worries were unnecessary. She took to it real well, of course I do hope that it helped that I was completely over the top quantitatively organised about it. I did some sort of a diet, a combination of things the hospital said and things that mum knew.
And today, four years down the line, I feel comfortable and happy with the whole thing. Yes, I wanted to experience the normal delivery thing, but that might not have been great for either of us. I more importantly wanted to ensure that my baby was fully breast-fed for six months, and I managed to do that despite everything (like going back to work, stress levels, whatever). My incision has healed so well that I can hardly find it sometimes, though when I twist in weird shapes sometimes there is a pull. If I managed to retain so much of my preggie tummy post-surgery, well, it has been a good challenge to go from there to here (though I still have a bit of it still!). I had no back pains to speak of. I have done crazy things - we travelled five times in her first year, I corrected exam papers the first week back from the hospital, I let anyone who wanted to carry her carry her, I massaged her myself, and I bathed her myself with help from husband initially and then mum, I could sit-stand or whatever was required, and I have run races every year and have been kick-boxing starting with 2005. Yes, to some extent I got myself stressed and got headaches from the combination of stress and lack of sleep. But really, overall, the birth experience was a very positive one. Its all in the mind of course, its how you choose to look at it, and I look at it as a fun day out and feel blessed and lucky about it.