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.