If there is one incident that I remember very clearly, it would be the few hours leading right up to Laddoo’s birth. Since it has been almost two years, I’m a little fuzzy on the days leading up to that, but I do remember things.
Before Laddoo was born, Sandeep and I had four amazing days to ourselves. It was probably the Universe’s way of letting us enjoy that freedom because we haven’t been able to do that again. Not yet.
To know what happened in the four days leading up to Laddoo’s birth, see the post below.
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14…
…began like any ordinary day. I was still in bed when Sandeep left for work. My sister was supposed to come over in the afternoon to keep me company. That morning, before he left, Sandeep asked me if I was feeling okay and double checked with me if he should go to work.
Of course, I was okay. The baby wasn’t due for another 12 days. And after 4 days off, he better go to work. So I waved him bye-bye from the bed and blew him a kiss.
I was 38 weeks and 3 days pregnant. When I started clicking my bump photos at 16 weeks, we clicked them every Sunday. I knew the marking on the floor where the chair that held my phone needed to be kept so that all photos appeared uniform. I would place the chair and the phone holder, I would fix the phone and start the camera and adjust it so that the angle was right. The husband was instructed to just tap to focus and click. If you don’t count the time I took to dress up (and that included ironing my hair and putting kajal for pictures where I never showed my face – this was an anonymous account then, but I still wanted my hair and whatever you could see of my face to look pretty) the actual photo session took less than ten minutes.
But slowly, around end of June, as I got bigger and heavier, by the time I felt up for a photo session and got ready to take the picture, the natural light was close to fading away. Once the rains became a regular thing, it would be bright and shiny for hours together and it would start raining just as I got the camera in place and the whole house would go dark. So for a few weeks I clicked the picture on Mondays, and then somehow it got pushed to Tuesdays for a few more weeks, and that week, it was Wednesday and I still hadn’t clicked a picture.
I was waiting for my sister to arrive so I wouldn’t have to go back and forth after every click. I couldn’t stand for that long. It was easier when someone else clicked and I had to stand and just be. But as usual, madam maasi-to-be arrived at her own leisure and it was nap time by then. Yes, I took regular post-lunch naps in my third trimester. So I thought we’d take a picture the following day because she was going to stay back.
I was really craving mashed potatoes that day and when I mentioned that to Natasha, she said she’d love to have them too. I woke up around 5:30 PM and just sat on the bed for a few seconds before I could gather the courage to get on my feet and walk. I tried to wake Natasha up but she wanted to sleep for “5 more minutes.” So I went into the kitchen and got the potatoes out and washed them but decided to come back to bed because I wasn’t in the mood to cook alone. I figured I’d cook “5 minutes later” when my company was awake.
After 15 minutes, when my sister hadn’t woken up, I nudged her again and she said wanted to sleep for a bit longer. It was around 5:50 PM and the cook was going to arrive soon. I sat on the bed for a few minutes and thought about whether I should make mashed potatoes. I then decided to clear the kitchen first and then probably ask the cook to boil and peel potatoes for me.
When I got off the bed and turned to speak to my sister, I noticed a tiny wet patch on the bed. It was barely there and if it were someone else, they’d probably not even notice. So I decided to sit down near the spot for a few seconds. And when I got up, I saw another wet patch, slightly larger than the previous one but still small for others to notice.
I smelled it. I wanted to be sure I wasn’t peeing my pants.
There was no smell. So it was amniotic fluid. But from what I’d heard, when the water breaks, it gushes, right? And this was barely two drops. So I moved on to the kitchen and that’s when the bell rang. The cook had arrived. I had soaked kabuli chana in the morning to make chole that night and I instructed her about how I wanted the potatoes to be boiled. That’s when I felt water trickle down my left leg.
I immediately rushed to the bathroom and as soon as I sat down to pee, I felt some extra liquid gush out along with it. It was more than a trickle, but surely not a lot.
I woke Natasha up as soon as I came out and immediately called my friend Ankita – she’s a gynecologist. I told her what had happened and she asked me what colour the water was. The liquid in my bathroom was a very light green, I told her. She told me it was time to call my doctor and go to the hospital. She asked me to wear a sanitary pad so that it would absorb any more water leaking while I was on my way.
My next step was to call my doctor who told me to come immediately. I kind of felt bad for her because it was Onam on that day and she was a Malayali and now, because of me, she probably wouldn’t be able to go home on time.
I called Sandeep and asked him to leave as soon as he could. The next call was to my dad to come over and accompany me and Natasha to the hospital (my parents lived 10 mins away and the hospital was close by too). I asked the cook to go back home as we wouldn’t be needing dinner that night. At least not at home. I told her we’d tell her when we would be back home so she could take the next 2-3 days off.
Now even though all this happened around 6-ish, I took my own sweet time and reached the hospital around 8 PM. Keep in mind that the hospital was just 10 minutes away and Navi Mumbai (God bless that place) has ABSOLUTELY NO TRAFFIC.
What took me almost two hours? Well, for one, for all the nesting that I did, the only thing I DIDN’T do was pack my hospital bag. Procrastinator that I am, I was going to do it that weekend, but Laddoo had other plans. So after I changed clothes, I first did that. We already had a list printed out and we had just folded the baby’s laundry the previous day, so everything was clean and fresh, and it didn’t take long.
I contemplated getting into a dress and clicking that weekly bump picture but by then the natural light was almost gone and my OCD wouldn’t let me stand in front of the camera without straightening my hair first and I knew there was no time for that.
What I did do, however, was empty my camera roll (I was using an 8GB iPhone 5C then and its memory got full every 5 minutes 🙄 and I wanted space in my phone to click pictures of the baby. I charged my laptop too while the photos transferred and made sure to carry my laptop too.
Once we had all the essentials – clothes, toiletries, phone, laptop, charger, medical file and a few milestone cards, we called a cab and set off.
When we reached the hospital they took me to the labour and delivery room and I changed into a hospital gown. The staff hooked me up to monitor me and upon examining the sanitary pad that I wore, they told me that I was indeed leaking amniotic fluid and it was stained with meconium.
When my doctor arrived and gave me an internal exam, I wasn’t dilated even a little bit and labour hadn’t begun. I was feeling a little pain, but it wasn’t even as bad as day 1 cramps. By then Sandeep had arrived too and the doctor told us that if we wait for labour to proceed, it will take at least 12-14 hours before the baby is born. And since the baby had already passed meconium, they were certain that the baby would ingest it and would have to be kept in the NICU and on antibiotics for a week. They suggested that a better option would be to do a C-section and asked us to let them know how to proceed. After deliberating for a few minutes we decided we didn’t want to risk NICU and wanted the baby to be out safely. It had been almost three hours since I first noticed that I was leaking and all hadn’t felt any significant pain yet. I wasn’t in labour, not yet. It could take longer than 14 hours.
Once we told the doctors we had made a decision, Sandeep went to get the billing and admission formalities done and I was prepped for surgery. My mom had arrived to by then and I used this time to whatsapp my sisters and a few friends that I was at the hospital. Natasha called my SIL and told her.
Around 9 PM I was wheeled into a very cold, sterile operating room. I somehow was very excited about the whole thing even though I was about to have major surgery, my first ever. A resident anaesthesiologist explained to me what they were about to do before the senior doctor came. And even though I managed to move from the bed to the operating table with little help from others, bending over while seated so they could inject me in my spine was a little harder what with such a big belly and all that.
I had heard that this part hurts. But all I felt was a little prick. Maybe they gave me local anaesthesia before the big one, but I didn’t feel a thing. Then they went on to put the catheter and just as my feet were going numb, I felt like there was a muscle pull and I wanted to turn my legs but couldn’t. That lasted for a few moments.
I was fully awake and conscious throughout the surgery. I remember the anaesthesiologists making small talk with me and I was getting impatient. I wanted to know what was happening. I asked them if they had begun, but they said they’d let me know. But I could see it. I saw my bloody abdomen in the reflection of the light above. The surgery had begun.
They probably thought I would panic. How were they to know that I had mastery in 12 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy and at least six seasons of House. Hell, a few days later, I would just nod along when they told me that my baby would need an LP and when the doctor would ask if I knew what it was, I would say, “Yes, Lumbar Puncture,” very nonchalantly.
But in that moment, I decided to play along. I knew they were already in there. I knew it was a matter of minutes, moments even.
And then I heard the baby cry.
At 9:55 PM, a little over 4 hours since I had noticed that tiny wet patch on my bed, my baby was out.
I thought I would burst out in tears, but I was bursting with curiosity. I wanted to know whether it was a boy or a girl.
When I asked the anaesthesiologist who stood next to my head, she asked me why I wanted to know. I wanted to punch her in the face. I mean, I get all the rules and everything about the secrecy of the baby’s gender while the baby is still inside, but once it’s outside it’s COMMON KNOWLEDGE, no? And what did she mean why did I want to know? I was tired of addressing the baby as “it.” Enough was enough.
Then she went on to ask me what I wanted, as if THAT was the pertinent question AFTER the baby’s birth, as if that mattered even when we were TRYING to get pregnant. I was in no mood to argue so I told her I wanted a girl, and then my OB said, “I think it’s a girl only.” 🤦♀️
Now at first I thought it was weird that the person who just pulled the baby out of my body didn’t know if I had a boy or girl. But then Ankita later mentioned to me that when the pull the baby out they don’t see the genitals because either the baby’s back is towards them or the umbilical cord is in the way. And they’re so busy making sure everything else is alright that it doesn’t occur to them to check.
I did a little dance in my head when they told me and I realised that she had been crying for a while. I asked them why and they said it was okay. Babies cry. Once they had cleaned her up the brought her to me and brought her face near mine. And i saw her round, chubby, red face. I wanted to hold her and kiss her, but they weren’t done checking her. And I was still open on the table.
And then they took her away. I’m not sure where. Maybe my family saw her. But I was happy. I couldn’t wait to be next to her, to hold her. I knew that it would be a little difficult with all the stitches and the IV line in my left hand, but I still couldn’t wait.
Sometime later, after they had stitched me up, they wheeled me out to the recovery room for her first feed. I was lucky to give birth in a hospital that is breastfeeding friendly and I nursed her within the hour. As you all know, two years later, I am still nursing her, so that worked out pretty well. LOL!
Anyway, that’s the story of how she was born. I’ll share the story of the first 24 hours as a mom, soon. Maybe for Dementor’s Kiss. 😜 Stay tuned to find out why.