The Day we Became Parents

Childbirth is simultaneously magical, beautiful and terrifying. It is arguably the most unforgettable day in a woman’s life.
For me that day came exactly one year and six months ago.
The date was March 23, 2018. I had got admitted in the hospital the previous evening.
My doctor had announced a few days ago that the baby was ready to come out and since there was no sign of labor as yet, we would be inducing it. “If the baby’s decided to be lazy, lets show her who’s boss!” she had joked as I had let out a nervous chuckle.
And so it was that I found myself prepped, in hospital scrubs and laying on a hospital bed, tethered to an IVY drip while staring at a television set that was pumping out old bollywood songs as if in a half-hearted effort to rid me of the nervousness that had gripped my being. My husband sat on a seat close by, his face relaying the excitement while his fidgety fingers gave the anxiety away.
After a long wait, the junior doctor appeared and gave me a tablet to be placed under my tongue. It was the trigger that would jump start the labor pains. Nothing happened for a few hours. Somewhere between 3 and 4 am, I felt the first pangs of pain. A blunt tingle at first that slowly but surely escalated to an excruciating pain that is symptomatic of full blown labor. With my husband now by my bedside, clutching my hand, or rather allowing me to use his hands as the proverbial punching bags of my pain, we surreptitiously aided each other through these moments that felt like we were on a rollercoaster ride of out-of-control emotions. All we could do was ride out the pain, the wait and the anxiety together. He attempted to crack some jokes to distract me. I attempted to humour him with a half-baked smile or two.
Until I gave up and finally demanded that epidural that my mother and I had so fervently argued over. We had been told the baby would not make an appearance till noon the next day. I was convinced that no amount of comedy and finger squeezing was going to keep the erupting volcano of pain from retreating any time soon. A pain relieving magic drug at this point would be just what the doctor ordered. (pun intended).
Almost as soon as the epidural had been administered by way of two injections in my back, the junior gynecologist came around for a routine checkup and succeeded in creating a ruckus by declaring that I was now quite further along already which meant the revised ETA of the baby was now within the next hour. It was 8 am!
My heart began to pound in my chest like a hammer being struck repeatedly on a nail in the wall. From the expression on my husband’s face it looked like the hammer in his chest was perhaps a little larger and louder than the one in mine. My doctor was summoned immediately and in the mean time I was prepped to start pushing momentarily right here in the waiting room. There was apparently no time to whisk me away to the delivery room.
There was no time for emotional outbursts either. That would have to wait till later.
Right now we had to focus our collective energies on getting this tiny human out of me on this hospital waiting bed.
But the lazy baby had decided it had other plans.
When my doctor arrived in a frenzy, mirroring the alarmed expression that the rest of her team wore (no one was expecting this baby so early), everyone sprung into action as she commandeered the troops to get in position and for me to begin the pushing. The show had begun.
The pregnancy journey is unarguably a daunting one that climaxes as a baptism by fire towards motherhood. During this time, the choice of doctor for every woman is an important one. It is a choice that sees not only the professional qualifications of the medical practitioner being weighed and pitted against others but also in equal measure, the warmth, compassion, empathy and positivity being exuded by them and successfully managing to dispel pangs of panic that tend to arise. I had been lucky enough to be placed in the hands of a young, brilliant, no-nonsense, cut and dry reponses kind of woman who was completely in control of a room and every one in it. Dressed in young,quirky clothes and neon nailpolish that ostensibly drew me to her at a personally relatable level too, I watched as she barked orders intermittently while in the middle of patiently explaining reports, results and situations. A reassuring cocktail of relief and confidence washed over me.
So when she arrived and sat down next to me on the bed, her eyes expressing both urgency and warmth in equal measure, I felt like the relay race had started and I held the baton in my hand, the finishing line now visible in the distance.
Little did we know that our showstopper wanted nothing less than a grand entrance.
Minutes passed and suddenly the junior doctor pointed to the ultrasound screen that had been set up behind me. The doctor stared at the screen and suddenly the room was awash with a din of incomprehensible medical jargon being thrown around like a football between all the medical personnel. My husband was asked to leave the room which made his face turn a ghostly white. A little panic-stricken myself, I looked questioningly at the woman whose authoritative demeanor could put military men to shame. “The head is stuck. The heartbeat is dropping, we have to move now!”
That familiar drum in my chest began to beat again as the room was prepped to whisk me away to another room. I still had no idea what was coming next. She didn’t say so. But something in her voice and expression extinguished my panic and also the urge to ask more questions. The situation was under control and strangely excitement had overtaken anxiety. As my gurney was whisked away to another floor, a nurse calmly told me that an emergency C-section had been authorized as the baby’s heartbeat was dropping and so they needed to operate without further delay. I requested them to inform my husband who was still waiting for an update.
After what felt like an eternity in a waiting area just outside the operation theater, being fussed over by nurses, the doctor appeared again. I saw her explaining the situation at hand to my visibly nervous husband at the entrance of the room. He glanced over at me and I smiled to let him know that it was all going to be okay and there was nothing to worry about. I gave him a thumbs up and I saw him smile and nod back. But he didnt stop pacing up and down the corridor.
I knew he wouldnt stop till the very end.
What happened next was all a beautiful, magical blur. As my gurney was whisked away for a final time inside the operation theater, the team of doctors now dressed in hospital scrubs flanked me on all sides. The doctor apologized to me for not allowing my husband inside the room as there had been no time to prepare him to do so. I assured them that this was not a problem and they should carry on with the more important task at hand!
The anesthesia had been administered and soon I couldn’t feel any part of my body from the neck down. A surreal, most unforgettable half an hour followed wherein my doctor and I chatted about common people we knew that she had operated upon in the recent past while she began to open me up We could just as well have been two chatty women catching up over a cup of coffee. As time passed, I remember feeling very thirsty and with a dry mouth pleading with the doctors standing behind me to pour some water in my mouth. They laughed good naturedly and said they would get into trouble for doing that. But eventually I won that battle. Somewhat.Some water soaked cotton was squeezed in my mouth.
My heart was pounding harder in my chest. This time it was out of impatience. I couldn’t wait to see this little bundle that had so wholly occupied my body and mind for the past nine months. This little person that had miraculously taken shape inside me. A biological marvel of the human body.
At last, the sound of a crying baby filled the room. And my eyes brimmed.
As they whisked away this little vision in white to one side of the room, cleaned and dressed him, my brimming eyes spilled over.
And then they brought him to me near my cheek as the rest of my body was still immovable. Overcome with joy and something else I cant quite describe, I laughed out loud. He was finally here.
The emotional roller-coaster of the day took me for a last ride while I was parked in the recovery room.
As my husband’s beaming smile met mine we knew that just like that, life as we knew it was over. It was time to step on a new roller coaster. This one was going to be one hell of a ride!
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