In Times Like These…

Being pregnant is a beautiful experience. For those of you who follow my blog and have read my pregnancy posts, I have described in some detail what it all feels like. But, what is life after pregnancy really like? Well, it is of course quite different for different people for sure. This is my own, very personal experience.

Going into Labour

That particular morning, I woke up with a start knowing something was about to happen. Sure enough, my water broke I went into labour at about 4:30 am. And there started the crazy roller coaster ride my husband and I went through over the  next 24 hours. In all my excitement, I went knocking on my mother’s (she was staying with me to help with the pregnancy and prepare for the baby) door and yelled for her to wake up. I was ecstatic and couldn’t wait for my husband and mom to get ready to take me to the hospital. En route, I was excitedly chatting with my mum and asking her what it would be like after the baby arrives. Needless, to say my husband was also pretty excited. So we finally get there and we realise that my medical file was left neatly on my work table at home, by me naturally (I was so excited that I forgot the one thing my husband put me in charge of!).

But all was forgiven and my husband headed back home to get the file, while my mom took me to the gynaecology ward. I was super excited (an understatement), not just for the arrival of the baby but also because I have never really been admitted in a hospital before (a weird fascination I suppose). I have been a caregiver for my parents when they needed it, but have never really been admitted. Every single aspect of going into labour was a joyride for me.

When my husband returned, at around 6 am on a Friday, we set about to calling our close friends and family.. Every call was a happy one while we annouced that I was in labour and expecting a child shortly. What I won’t forget is how excited my co-sister sounded even though I had just woken her up that early. Until that point, I don’t think my husband and I realised how much my brother-in-law (his brother) and my co-sister were rooting for us (for we live across town from each other; we rarely meet). They made my day.

The hours pass on…

And so it went, induction of labor pain and the mild contractions that started soon after, the doctor visiting me every few hours or so. Through all this time, I was pretty relaxed in my hospital bed and my hospital gown (awfully uncomfortable to wear, actually) and couldn’t wait to meet my daughter or son soon. And suddenly, I was walked to the labor room and it was time.

And then it happened…

I wont get into the nitty-gritty of labor pain, because it is truly beyond imaginable. But, after quite a struggle, we had a baby boy. While I was mildly disoriented, I won’t ever forget the little sounds my son made and the very first sight of him after the nurses cleaned him up. I also vividly remember the joy in my husband’s voice (and he was with me throughout).  And I still hear all this in my dreams sometimes.

The next thing I remember is standing in NICU while my dear baby was hooked to all sorts of monitors and being examined by a throng of specialists. I distinctively also remember my husband beside me, in so much emotional pain and he realised (being a practicing surgeon), faster than me, what was really happening. Considering that I had just given birth, I was asked to leave the NICU and rest. I refused to go of course, but, I had to. I settled into a chair right outside, and started praying (for those of you who know me, know that I rarely pray, if ever at all). I have never clung on to hope like I did that night. With the beeping monitors as my backdrop, the tears eventually started. We knew what was to follow.

As I sat there waiting, a nurse came and sat quietly next to me. I don’t know why she did that, because she wasn’t a part of the NICU staff, but she just did. She sat there, saw my tears and held my hand. She had absolutely no idea why I was crying or that I had just come out of labor. But, she sat there. Silent tears gave way to hysterical crying and she stood and she held me for god knows how long. She didn’t ask a single question. I still don’t know her name or what department she worked in. But I owe her.

Eventually, my husband pushed me to go back to the ward and rest. My mom and I after a lot of protesting did just that. Within a few minutes of reaching the ward (I couldn’t walk very fast), my husband called us. It was over. If ever I have heard my husband cry, that was it. Over the phone. It was then 12 am, about 20 hours after my water broke.

The next few hours went by in a blur. We were in shock, and I was torn, watching my mom, my husband and my son.

The calm after the storm…

Calm. Not peace, but a quite, almost sinister calm came over me. I don’t know why, but I was suddenly clear, confident and taking care of people around me. It was weird. Little did I know that it just meant something broke inside me that day. And it was irreparable. It still is.

Times like these…

It is always in times like these that you notice the people around you. The people that have stayed, the people that rush (yes, rush; like it happened to them), the people that continue to care. I won’t ever forget my brother-in-law and my co-sister mourning and crying like they had lost their own; I guess in a way they did too, nor will I ever forget my cousin (brother), who rushed as soon as he heard and accompanied my husband through what had to be his toughest journey yet.

Losing a child at any stage in your life, be it a miscarriage or a loss like ours, a few hours after birth, is an indescribable feeling. It numbs you, it shatters you, it changes you, almost kills you, but eventually makes you stronger.

 Pranav, my baby, where ever your beautiful soul is, we love you.  

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Pregnancy- A Life is Born

Ah! Finally, after the trying and testing first and second trimesters, you have reached the pinnacle, the third trimester! This is pretty much the last phase of your pregnancy from months 7 through 9. Personally, this was the most enjoyable part of the pregnancy for me. I thoroughly enjoyed feeling my baby move around (it is that much more intense as the baby grows), and also that I got to interact with him. These last three months usually pass by quickly and even before you know it, it is D-day.  

What You Should Know…

For all those first time mommy’s to be, the third trimester while exciting is also daunting. You will find yourself going back and forth feeling excited, anxious  that you are about to become a parent and once you get a hang of the idea, you might tend to worry about the kind of parent you will be. Feeling anxious or being worried is very natural and remember that you should not feel guilty for either of those things. Being pregnant (and in your last stages) can be stressful in itself. I, for one, was overwhelmed almost throughout and couldn’t hold back tears every time I felt anxious. What did I do? I would spend a while every other day talking to my husband about how scary all this seemed. I was repetitive no doubt, but talking helped a tonne and took some pressure off! Phew!

Exciting Times Ahead

Besides the anxiety, the third trimester can be rather fun-filled. It is also baby shower time! We had a rather traditional (tam-brahm style) baby shower that involved all the aunts (friends and family alike) adorning you and blessing you with glass bangles. I realized glass bangles, with its wonderful mellow sounds is particularly soothing for the baby. On stressful days at work, I would jingle these bangles and my baby would respond with either a kick (if resting) or slowing down intense kicks (if hyper active). Though these were subtle responses, it felt like I was talking to my baby and he was talking back to me. He already made me feel like a good mom! Besides all the celebration frenzy, a long leave of 6 months from work also in store for me. Truth be told, I love what I do and the thought of taking a 6 months break was quite scary for me. But, a week into my maternity leave made me realise that this time off is so essential to bond with your soon-to-be born child. I spent the last two weeks before child birth simply sitting around and chatting with the little one. The joy it brought is indescribable.

So, Child Birth…

In these last few weeks, you will feel your body slow down naturally, and you will also look and feel enormous, so the sluggishness is rather justified. Think about how much energy you and your baby need, now that the tiny pea sized life is almost a full-grown infant! There will be times when you will feel the energy drain from your body. During these times I adopted some pregnancy yoga and boy, was it a life-saver. You don’t need to get bendy (and trust me you can’t); just sitting with good posture and taking deep breaths gives you some relief from these frequent bouts of fatigue. If this is not your thing, slow strolls for about 20-30 minutes also does the trick. What also helps is to eat healthy. My choice was always fresh fruit which energised me instantly and also didn’t cause heartburn (yes, this is important!). But, you could turn to nuts, yoghurt or even some ice cream! All of these habits eventually prepare your body for child birth, so watch what you do and what you eat at this time.

It was very early in the morning (about 4 am) when my water broke. Yes, I was sleeping, and I jumped out of bed as I realised what was happening. After the fear passed, excitement kicked in… I was in labour. This was really the culmination of the last 8-9 months of creating life, nurturing it and finally bringing your child into the world. What I will also never forget is startling my husband awake when my water broke. His initial confusion giving way to excitement at that moment just spoke volumes as to the magic of this time!

The drive to the hospital and some hours of labour after that are a blur, but, as I was taken into the labour room kicking and screaming in pain (an understatement), all I thought about was seeing my child. An excruciating 50 minutes later, our son was born. As the nurse approached me with my son and the second I saw him, all the pain and discomfort melted away, just in that instant. It is amazing how your mind and body work in this regard. I have never felt anything like it before and it is something that I will never forget. No doubt that our lives will have many more moments of pain and joy, but, seeing your child for the first time as he stepped into this world, just… stays with you forever.

Pregnancy- A Life Grows

After an eventful and exciting first trimester, my transition to the second thus began. The second trimester is roughly the fourth, fifth and sixth month of pregnancy, in case you as first time mommy’s to be are confused about the whole trimester thing. Having lived the experience, I have now come to realise that the second trimester is by far the best! I say this because I had the most fun during this period. But be prepared to be overwhelmed, because some first-time experiences were quite awe-inspiring and most certainly unforgettable in this lifetime!

As the Trimester Begins…

Entering into your fourth month, you now are out of the delicate period of the first trimester and starting to show just a little bit. You don’t really gain weight in the first trimester, but all that changes here. One day I suddenly started to feel like was carrying a bag of water in my belly and more importantly I started to show! It was more than exciting and I did spend some time admiring my growing baby (and belly!). A month or so into this period, I slowly started to feel flutters in my tummy, the kind that makes you feel like you have butterflies in there. At first, I did not know what it was and carried on as usual, but, as the flutters started to get intense I realised what it was. It was my baby moving around! Though it was too soon for my husband to feel it externally, he would still place his hand on my tummy hoping to catch even a tiny move. Magical does not begin to describe what we felt.

What Comes After?

At around the same time, we were scheduled for our second ultrasound scan to check for anomalies in the baby. If you are a first time mom like me, then you would tend to go into this scan a bit apprehensively. While my mind was working overtime during the scan, I remember the doctor turning the monitor toward me and showing me my little sweet pea, slightly moving around in my tummy. It wasn’t just that though, we also heard our baby’s heartbeat for the first time since I got pregnant! Our hearts most literally skipped a beat just then. But accompanying this excitement was disbelief and awe. We just couldn’t believe that we made this living being that was growing inside me with it’s own heartbeat. I cried that day too.

Other Stuff You Feel…

With all these big changes, come changes in your body also. This starts with weight gain. Don’t be alarmed with a steady weight gain that you will see through this trimester and into the next. Taking cue from you, your baby also almost doubles in weight at this time. With my weight gain came heartburn too. Anything I ate caused heartburn at this stage and more noticeably at night. I would sometimes wake up crying in the middle of the night from severe heartburn and would then throw up. After this happened a few times, I was told that drinking milk before sleeping can ease some heart burn at night. I also tried light second trimester yoga. It worked wonders for me!

At this time, you would experience an improvement in your sleep patterns (I know I slept fitfully, except for when I had heartburn issues), and your fatigue may also be reduced.  You may have the most energy during this trimester. This is also a time when my body naturally could only rest when I slept on my sides. Remember that carrying a water bag feeling? Lying on my back just made me uncomfortable and lying on my side meant using more pillows for my tummy and legs. Though concerned at the beginning, my doctor assured me that this was normal and even insisted that lying on my left side was better for the baby (I could also feel more movement this way). So, there you go!

Are You Ready for Your Babymoon?

For us, this pregnancy was the greatest birthday gift we could ask for (my husband and I are a month apart), especially since we had planned for this pregnancy in every possible way. It was sheer coincidence that our birthdays occurred through this trimester. So, we decided that it was a triple celebration and planned our babymoon. We didn’t go far (as travelling long distance was a bit uncomfortable; another joy of pregnancy!) and opted to spend a weekend at a beach resort. As a couple, it was honestly the best vacation we had ever taken considering that we also had our baby on the way. Though early, we started talking to our baby on this trip. I remember staring out to sea and just gently rubbing my baby bump as I spoke softly and explained what I saw to my baby. It was even a rainy weekend at the beach for us, which made it all abundantly more beautiful. However, planning for the babymoon wasn’t all roses, because you do have the heartburn issue which may make eating outside a bit challenging. Also, I still had some remnants of my morning sickness well into my second trimester and also had major hunger pangs throughout the day irrespective of the meal I had. But, the good news is, if you are driving to your destination, you can stop as and when you please along the way and also pack some of your favourite snacks to keep nausea and hunger at bay. The key to a great babymoon, as I discovered, was in how comfortable your travel is. And, once you get there… it is sheer bliss.

The second trimester is definitely more intense than the first, in terms of how much of your baby you actually start to feel. But, emotionally, it can also trigger some pretty strong feelings. You could start to feel like maybe you haven’t planned enough for parenthood or the type of parents you are going to be. Rest assured that these feelings are natural and you have nothing to feel guilty for! Especially since your pregnancy is about to reach its crescendo with the last trimester. Here, you feel every move, every kick, every hiccup (oh yes!) and so much more as you prepare for the magic of child birth. Are you prepared for this final phase?