I was practicing breathing and squatting exercises throughout my second and third trimester, hoping this would ease the process. My mother-in-law would often call me to say, “No matter what you do, it is pain like never before!” But I was determined to make it as smooth and easy for me and for my little bundle of joy.
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Friday 23rd Sept, 2017:
I was checking emails, having breakfast like every other day when I started to feel slight unease and a few contractions. The first few times, I ignored it because if nothing else in the last 9 months, I had learnt that every contraction is not labor! Then I started noticing a pattern to the contractions and I decided to time them. They would come and go at intervals of about 10-15 minutes. They made me feel slightly uncomfortable, but I was able to carry on my routine activities. By evening, the contractions were at 6 minute intervals. At this point, I told myself, “It is time to call my husband!”
I called my husband, his mother, my parents and asked them to come over as soon as possible. My husband was at work, which was about 20 miles away from where we stayed. He asked me to stay put and breathe. After hanging up, I realised I was breathing and doing everything in my control but the contractions kept progressing along with the pain in my lower back which had begun to worsen to a point where I had to bend forwards against some support and wait for every contraction to pass
Saturday 24th Sept, 2017:
At about 4 am, when the contractions were close to 4 minutes apart, we set out for the hospital. Once we arrived in the hospital, we were shown to the triage room. I was not sure if they would admit me considering the contractions were tolerable and there were no other signs of active labor. But soon, I found myself changed into a hospital gown and strapped to multiple monitors and I could hear the doctors discussing my high blood pressure among themselves. They asked me to lie down on my left side. The contractions had begun to slow down but I had a feeling of immense thirst. When I attempted to sip some water, it would make me feel nauseous; but to prevent the fatigue caused by dehydration, the doctors started me on some IV fluids. The IV fluids had to be monitored very closely because of the rise in blood pressure.
The resident doctor did a cervical examination and mentioned that I was 2-3 cms dilated and that we are at station -1. In my head, i thought, “If this pain is -1, what would the positive be like!”
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Sunday 25th Sept, 2017:
In the meantime, the contractions had begun to get stronger, more intense and more painful. I remember requesting several times to pace around and walk around as I felt that would divert my mind, but because of my blood pressure, it was necessary to keep the monitoring on all the time and so I was not allowed to try any pain-relieving techniques that required me to get out of bed. I started breathing through my mouth and vocalizing few non-comprehendible words to help distract me from the pain. But in two hours I realised that this is not very effective and so I requested for some pain medication and I was given IV Nubain. Nubain definitely reduced the pain I felt but it also made me feel fuzzy and drifty. I sort of felt slightly disoriented in time and place. From a distance, I could see the water room being cleaned and prepared. I was then moved to the water room and I was hoping my blood pressure has stabilised and that I can still have a waterbirth. I could hear the tub being filled and from that moment onwards, I have no recollection till the moment my daughter was born! My whole world consisted only of my sounds and the pain, I have no recollection of when my parents and my sister arrived.
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Some of the vague recalls I have: Someone screaming “5-6 cms”, “7 cms” and so on. Amidst that, every time I had a very strong contraction and I needed someone’s help to press my back, I would hear myself scream “Back pressure!” My arms were hugging my knees close to my chest with so much force as if my life depended on that. For every intense contraction, I would go in a sitting squat position and wail like an injured animal. Tears would roll down my eyes and then someone would pat my shoulder and say, “Don’t worry, you are doing great. You have been pushing very well for over an hour, just hold on for a while longer.”
My husband tells me the time of our daughter’s birth was 1.15 am on Sunday morning after over 16 hours of active labor. I was so sapped out of all my energy that I fell asleep even before the placenta was out and woke up when my daughter was already about 6 hours old in this world! I woke up with a start only to realise that it was John who was holding my baby very close to my chest. I touched my healthy 7 pound daughter for the first time with anticipation and emotion that I have never experienced before and my mother-in-laws’ voice rung in my head, “No matter what you do, it is pain like never before!” I smiled to myself at the thought and repeated loud and clear, “No matter what you do, it is pain and joy like never before!”