Saturday, July 20, 2013

Finally, the beginning....

You can read the previous posts here.

When I opened my eyes, Ashok was carrying me ((I made a mental note never to make fun of his body building again) with an extremely concerned expression . After he laid me down on the bed, he told me I fainted. I was shocked, I had never fainted before, ever. For that matter, I had never been admitted to a hospital or had IV and various things stuck to various places ! It was a day of firsts !

The nurse then explained to me that I had lost 1.7 litres of blood (women normally lose 0.4 to 0.5l during delivery) since it took a while to locate the source of the bleeding and stop it. She said it was a miracle that I actually wanted to stand up and managed to do so. The reason she let me do it was because she wanted to see how far I could manage. She gave me a couple of tablets for the pain and I slept and I slept while Ashok took care of both his girls.

In the morning, after spending time with Sahana, I was getting restless waiting for the doctor. I wanted to know when I could take our little girl and go home. When the doctor arrived, she checked me and the good news was that the tampon had successfully stopped the bleeding but the bad news was that it had to come out. If inserting it was painful, removing it was 10 times worse ! When I think about it now, I am actually immensely proud of myself and my pain threshold !

The doctor then asked me if I could stand up. After the previous night's episode, I was a little wary and when I stood up, I was relieved that everything in the room was still in focus. The relief encouraged me to slowly walk around the room. The doctor was happy. She was trying to decide if I would need a blood transfusion. As I displayed reasonable energy levels, she thought that I would do well just with an iron injection (that would help generate my own blood)  instead of a blood transfusion. She only cautioned me that I would have to take a lot of rest and avoid any stress (which included taking long walks, climbing stairs etc.) in the first couple of weeks to give my body time to generate all the blood that had been lost.

A couple of hours later, after thanking everyone, we finally took Sahana and headed home. 

When Ashok was fixing her car seat, I looked at him and vowed to myself that I would never again fight with him for petty things (notice the hidden disclaimer ''petty'' - how can I completely stop fighting with him....life would then be too boring :D). For all the love, care and support he gave me throughout the pregnancy, during the delivery (and now), I was (and am) immensely happy and inordinately proud to be his wife !!

Some words for wisdom for all moms and dads-to-be:
  • Stop trying to plan and control everything - Be it the birth plan or anything else, pregnancy and child birth come with their own load of surprises. So go with the flow. Just breathe, relax and believe that things will go well. This is especially a learning curve for when the child arrives because then things are truly out of control. 
  • Trust your midwife and/or doctor: It is extremely important to have a midwife/doctor you completely trust. Irrespective of everyone around you, they are the medical experts whose opinion counts when its time to make a crucial decision.
  • Remember, pregnancy is not an illness: Just because you are pregnant, it doesn't mean you have to stay in bed all day (there are exceptional situations). You can stick to your routine as long as you are not exerting yourself too much. For example, my colleague is a runner (i.e she runs every day) and since she is used to running she ran until her 34th week ! Obviously you can't begin training for a marathon when you are pregnant, but you can continue doing what you did before, as long as your body can handle it.
  • Natural childbirth is preferable but keep your options open: While natural child birth without any medication or induction is definitely the way to go, have a plan B when there are complications. Look into pain medication options (there are quite a few) so that you understand the pros and cons. For example, not everyone can have epidural. One criterion is that you should not have had back problems or pain. Also not everyone reacts to the epidural the same way, for some women, the pain relief is only partial or its too late in labor for epidural to be administered. 
  • Keep the communication loop as small as possible: While you would need support from the family, there is no need to inform every aunt, uncle and cousin that your labor has started, especially if they do not live in the same city or country as you do. This will only make them feel helpless and anxious, which would result in multiple phone calls that you neither have time nor patience to handle. For example, we only informed appa and amma after calling the midwife. Similarly we didn't inform anyone in India (including Ashok's parents) that I was in labor. Ashok only called them after Sahana was born.
  • Remember the value of positive energy: The more nervous you get, the more adrenaline your body produces and this inhibits oxytocin (the hormone needed for contractions), so remember your breathing exercises and do them. Listen to something you like or do something you like (read a book or watch a funny movie), recollect all the happy memories from your pregnancy and above all, remember all the good wishes from near and dear ones. There is immense power in positive thoughts !
  • Find the line between well-informed and ''over-informed'': Attend a maternity class or a course to understand the various terms and to be prepared, especially if you have a desi family, you might have to contend with a lot of superstitions and knowing the actual facts would help. Note that there are a lot of beliefs based on actual facts but telling them apart is not easy, if you are not well-informed. At the same time, reading every thing that Google churns out will only give you nightmares ! 
  • Keep the Dad involved: Even if you have a big family of aunts, grandmothers and a whole horde of women to help, it is always important to keep the dad involved. This not only enhances the emotional attachment between the child and the father, but it also helps keep husband and wife close. Many couples drift apart once a child arrives, because the woman is always busy with the child and the man feels left out and less loved. Remember that the grandmothers and aunts can't be around for ever, so it always helps if the dad knows how to change a diaper or sterilise a bottle !
And above all, cherish this time - pregnancy and child birth come with a load of work but also bring with them tonnes of happiness and joy and as years go by, its the happy memories that will stay with you !

With all this behind you, you then have something wonderful to look forward to - being a parent ! 

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