Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Labour.

A number of people have shared a variety of experiences with me about their delivery and the process of labour. The truth is that how many ever experiences we hear out, each labour is unique, special, and shakes every mother up like nothing else does. Every record of delivery is hazy and vague, because it is true that the pain is a blur, especially after the child is born. In reality, the postnatal period is more challenging, nerve wracking, tiring, sleep deprived, but beautiful. Beautiful as the baby grows. More beautiful as we learn the significance of every move of the baby. Every pain, small or big, seems to fade as we look at the tiny round face. One thing is for sure - no lady will go through this for anyone else other than her child. By the time every mother crosses 40 days after delivery in one shape, she is ready to even go through one more round of delivery. 

Having said that, I personally feel that the baby puts in more effort and goes through much more, right from conception up until he/she is ready to face the world. Right from adjusting in the tiny space inside the womb, putting effort to come out through a tiny hole, trying to adjust to a different temperature, atmosphere and environment as soon as he/she is born, learning to suck, learning to cry, learning to play, learning to see, learning to hear, learning to smell, learning to pee, adjusting to the people around him/her, getting over the shock of bathing for the first time....I can keep going. The message here is that the baby goes through as much as, or probably more than the mother. However, I don't remember that process, and neither can I ask my baby about it because he probably won't remember it either. Digressing a little, how wonderful would it be if adults could forget things as easily as babies!

Anyway - In this article, I give a note of my experience as a mother who underwent labour. This will contain the raw, plain details of what actually the mother goes through. 

My experience was slightly different. During the ante-natal period, I hardly vomited, went through rounds of hyperacidity, and started having mild contractions since two months before delivery. I slept like a log every day, hardly helped out at home and went around like a zombie in a sleepy state. Ten days before I delivered, the contractions started getting more sharp and frequent, and I became a short-tempered shrew. I started snapping at everyone within speaking range and only my mother could manage the mood swings resulting from undergoing the pain and hormonal change. 3 days before delivery, my water broke. We rushed to the hospital. After a vaginal examination, the duty doctor declared that this was only a case of liquid discharge due to a probable small tear near the top of the uterus. I was scared, but took the risk of coming back home. I went back the very next day for a consultation, and the doctor with whom I was consulting (Dr. Uma Ram) checked me. During the course of a day's gap, I had actually lost some amniotic fluid. She asked me to get admitted immediately, and told me that she would induce labour. The process started on Thursday night. The first time labour was induced, I started getting contractions - but they subsided after a while. On Friday, a second attempt was made, and this pattern repeated. My hope started wavering, but Dr. Uma Ram examined my fluid levels once more, and they had miraculously increased, allowing for pain induction for the third time. The resulting contractions seemed strong, but irregular. "You aren't getting enough pain", said the nurses, whereas I felt like a truck was rolling over me again and again. Finally, on Saturday morning, Dr. Uma Ram unleashed the final attempt at induction. Meanwhile, the loss of fluid was happening intermittently. I swallowed my fear about the welfare of the baby without enough fluid, and the nurses also helped by checking my baby's hearbeat from time to time - this was literally the only thing making me hold up. My mother stood next to me like a rock, and looking at her face, I saw how much it cost her to see her daughter go through so much pain. Seeing that, I decided that I would not make a single sound, and carried of labour without shouting even once. I resorted to taking deep breaths as suggested by the doctors, and found to my amazement that it helps to no end. I had also attended pregnancy yoga classes, which helped me relax. Thanks to my instructor, Mrs. Lakshmi, for helping me out. 

On Saturday, once I was shifted to the labour room, I made my mother do what very few mothers could have done. She watched the entire process of delivery, and it is no mean feat. She was focused entirely on my delivery, and gave me the best moral and physical support that anyone can get. My sister (studying in the UK), who was facing her most important exams at that time, swallowed all her worry and tension about my delivery to offer words of encouragement alone, and compromised on the moral support from my mother at this important juncture. The last leg of pain induction began at 6.30 am on Saturday morning, and the effect was instantaneous. The pain was blinding and unbearable - as if a thousand hands were forcibly contracting my back, abdomen and legs. But I was still not dilating enough. My contractions were still being labelled "mild", at least according to the machine which was monitoring them. Amidst all this, the induction had started affecting my baby's heartbeat. It was withdrawn and replaced again, and in this gap, I placed all my trust on the doctors and my positive thinking even though this news made me extremely anxious. By the end of mid morning, all doctors had started giving up hope about normal delivery and were contemplating a C-section. But I refused to give up. It went on like this, when Dr. Uma Ram walked in and said that the pain was unique to every mother and that I should alert them immediately if I felt that the contractions were unbearable. I told her that I would wait for some more time, and by this time, over those two days, I was sick of the necessary but uncomfortable intrusions which were the vaginal examinations - they happened over ten times. I knew that these were necessary for a normal delivery, but they were difficult! The last but one examination revealed a huge difference - I had dilated 3 cm! By this time, I had asked for an epidural to manage the pain. My mother watched every single thing without batting an eyelid, but I recognised how difficult it was for her. At 3 pm, the last examination happened. The doctor told me something that excited me to no end - that she could see the baby's hair!

The next hour was a blur. I was taught how to push, and Dr. Uma walked in with a victorious smile, because she was confident that I would achieve a normal delivery even when my hopes started sliding. My mother held my head like a baby's , while I pushed with all my effort. Dr. Uma started uttering words of encouragement, and in half an hour, my baby was out! After pulling him out, she said "It's a boy" and placed the little one on my chest. He gave a tiny cry which was the best music to my ears, and in that moment, all the happiness we had lost when my dad passed away due to a heart attack in January 2016 seemed to come back in one stroke. In that second, my baby looked exactly like my dad and the happiness and contentment on seeing this was exquisite. My sister in the UK saw him first, and he gave a little smile which made all this - delivery, labour, pain induction, water breaking, etc. etc., - all worth it.

Thank you, Seethapathy Clinic and Hospital, Unit - II. Thank you to the very able team of doctors, sisters and anaesthesists. And welcome, Hrudhaiy. I hope I can help you handle the world as it is today, because even I find that difficult. Delivery seems easier! :D

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