Sunday, 29 April 2012

My Childbirth Experiences - Normal delivery


The Miracle of Birth along with all associated truths about it; episiotomy, retained placenta and the real excruciating pain. the bundle of joy that makes it all worthwhile and why I am willing to go through it again and again.


The Miracle - Rohaan


On my delivery day I was really cool about the whole thing. My mother and mother in law were both like “don’t think it’s a cake walk” and I was like “however bad the pain is, it’s going to end today itself, I am going to focus on that.” Wow, great attitude! I was already three days overdue and the doctor induced the labour at six in the morning. I went back to my room, walked around with my husband in the hospital corridors; bouts of pain were coming here and there and by 12 noon I was in great pain. They put me in the hospital gown and admitted me into the preparation room. I was convinced the baby will arrive soon. The doctor came and checked and said “Great, your labour is starting!” I lay there stunned. Starting!

By two in afternoon, the junior doctor came by to see how I was doing. I told him “Next time, it will be caesarean. This time since I’ve tolerated most of the pain, I will endure the remaining.” Foolish words! I didn’t realise then, what the remaining was. Luckily I had a nurse called Mercy Mathai who was quite sympathetic, caring and comforting. I wasn’t so lucky with nurses in my second delivery. At four in the evening the nurse cut the sac letting out the amniotic fluid to speed up the labour.  By around five in the evening when I was convinced there couldn’t be any pain worse than this, I heard myself screaming like never before in my life. The junior doctor was like “Not so loudly, you’ll scare your husband and you family members waiting outside.” The pain is unlike anything you can imagine. To be conscious while enduring such deathly pain is something probably possible only in a pregnancy. Funny thing is that after the delivery, you cannot recall the pain, when you try to remember it, you just can’t. Maybe it’s because it’s a pain beyond human imagination or maybe its nature’s way of ensuring that you are willing to bear a child again. 

Then the pain changed, it wasn’t any less, but there was this new feeling of wanting to push. I don’t know how else to explain that feeling. It’s a real sense of the baby ready to come out. It sort of distracts you from the severe pain of contractions. I was quickly rushed to the labour room, made to lie on a funny contraption, in position convenient for the doctor to catch the baby. This time somehow you welcome the wave of contractions and with each contraction everyone in the labour room including doctors, nurses and other helping ayahs would scream “Push!” and I would push with all my might.  Then the crowning happened! The doctor saw the baby’s head and he said “that’s a huge baby.” He made the episiotomy cut a little wider so that I wouldn’t tear when the baby came out.  Imagine that I wasn’t even aware of the pain in such a delicate part of my anatomy being sliced open with a surgical knife.  It’s like stubbing your toe while breaking your leg, the smaller pain just doesn’t register. With the next and final push with everyone in the room yelling, my gorgeous son Rohaan entered into our world at five thirty nine in the evening. 

But my delivery story doesn’t end there like I had then expected. The baby was immediately whisked away to be cleaned and wrapped up while the doctors waited for my placenta and whatever remaining to come out. It was expected to follow the baby out within fifteen minutes or so. After a forty five minute wait the doctor decided that he was going to have to remove it by hand. Initially they wouldn’t show me the baby or tell me what the sex of the baby was, I came to understand that many women on learning the sex of the child would lose heart on learning it was not really the one they wanted and that tends to complicate the remaining procedures of placenta removal and stitches.  

Retained placenta was not a complication I was aware of. I was given a general anesthetic while the confident experienced doctor efficiently pulled out the placenta by hand.  The anaesthetic didn’t take effect till after about an hour so I was aware of every tiny thing. But somehow I was beyond all coherence of pain. I felt the thread running through the flesh with each stitch of the episiotomy tear. The doctor asked me “does it hurt too badly?” and I answered “Pain is a relative term now.” After the intense pain of labour, the stitches felt like little ant bites and nothing more. And this is from a person who has always feared the tiniest injections with needles.

After about twenty minutes or so of waiting for the placenta, the doctor had decided it was safe to show me the baby, maybe boost my spirits. This wrapped up bundle was held close to me by a lady and I saw my beautiful baby for the first time. Clear bright eyes stared back at me holding me mesmerized. I noted that he was really fair like his father and I was glad that he wouldn’t have to face the prejudices I had to, in this fairness obsessed nation.  

Another funny thing during this whole episode was that I kept chattering nonstop from during the entire time from the final labour contractions to the last minute of stitches despite the anesthetic being given. I just couldn’t stop. I regaled the doctor and his entire staff with anecdotes from my life, to explanations of my passions, desires, dreams and what not. It was like being drunk and my tongue was really on the run. I remember telling him how much I love baking and how great my cakes were. What modesty! I even promised to bake and gift him a chocolate cake. I did indeed bake him a chocolate cake with chocolate ganache icing, though it was four months afterwards. I greatly appreciate the doctor’s patience in putting up with my constant chattering. He assured me that different people had different ways of dealing with stress and I had kept him and his term entertained during the long and complicated delivery.
Despite whatever pain I may have undergone I have happy memory of my delivery. That’s a funny thing about motherhood I guess. The Doctor was Surg. Cdr. Ashok Pillai of Military Hospital Sanjeevani in Cochin, Kerala.

In my second delivery the pain factor took a different turn. I was induced a day earlier to my due date. I lay in increasing pain and all the shut out memories of my previous labour came flooding in. The anticipation of the excruciating labour pain terrorized me and send me into panic from the beginning. Now I understood why they say ignorance is bliss and that ignorance was what got me through the first delivery.  I had expected the second delivery to be faster and easier than the first. I was mistaken.  At One thirty in the afternoon when I could bear it no more, an insensitive nurse came, checked and said “Nothing is happening, you get up and start walking, and maybe it’ll get the labour started.” And she left. I burst out in tears, sobbing my heart out. I shouted for the nurse to get a doctor for a caesarean. I prayed to the heavens in despair like I had never before in my life. The system in Indian hospital is not very different from cave man times. You go into labour; you are isolated from your husband and family who supposedly cannot bear the trauma of a loved one in pain. It’s traumatic for them, not for the woman in labour! You lie alone in the first stage room with no one to comfort you or you may have another moaning lady in a nearby bed, whose screams terrorize you in imaginations of what lay ahead. It was unbearably hot, the first week of May. To top it I had mosquitoes biting me. A bunch of insensitive nurses and ayahs, went in out ignoring my moans, they knew they needn’t bother till the moans turned into screams.  They had been through these scenes enough times to have become numbed and insensitive to the suffering. Females are the most insensitive and cruel to another female’s suffering. 

To cut a long story short, god answered my prayers instantly; which taught me the value of real heartfelt prayer. The amniotic sac burst and drenched my bed, I yelled at the top of my lungs, not because of the pain, but because I was alone and I needed to notify someone. The nurse came running and checked and found that I was fully dilated. She rushed to call the doctor. I heard her defensively telling the doctor “I had checked ten minutes back and there was nothing more than two fingers dilation.” Anyway after that the final excruciating pain started and there I was yelling my head off. Thankfully this time it was much shorter and my miracle baby daughter Tania was born at two thirty in the afternoon. She too was delivered by Dr pillai at Sanjeevani. And thankfully this time there were no complications with the placenta, though my nature of chattering while stressed was no less and this time the doctor was promised an ice cream cake which was delivered as promised when the baby was six months old.

My Angel - Tania


The moment I held my baby I knew that every moment was worth it and the memories of labour pain was again hidden in my subconscious. Though I had always wanted four children, at that moment I decided, I am not going through another labour. But then here I am, joyfully carrying a third time! It defies understanding how a woman can do it again and again after what she goes through in each labour. But then thats how blessed a woman is!

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