Friday, April 25, 2008

Dial 911 for Amma - 4

Yes, it was too late to have someone over. And yes, we would do just fine on our own. After repeated reassurances from the husband, the matter of having family over was finally laid to rest and we set about tackling other practical issues. Like packing a suitcase for the hospital. Like arranging for childcare for the firstborn while we were at the hospital. Like buying baby-stuff. When I went in for the 38th week check up, I was told that the baby's head had 'engaged' and that I was officially full-term. I was ready to deliver any day now. I must mention the wonderful support we had from neighbours and friends (many of whom I met through this blog - you know who you are - take a bow) who were ready to drop in at an hour's notice to help out. Though we had gone over all the arrangements, it could still all go completely pear-shaped. It was the unpredictability of the whole situation including that of the outcome, that was utterly unnerving.

Yes, I'd had a baby before and this was my second innings, but there was no guarantee that things would go as well as it had the first time. Didn't someone say that no two pregnancies are alike? Does it mean this delivery would be harder than the first? Did the midwife give me all the pain relief options? Did you watch that show on BBC Three the other day about someone having a baby? I don't remember it being that painful the first time around. Is there something I'm forgetting? What if it's a c-section? Doesn't recovery take longer and isn't it more painful? Oh god, what have I got myself into?

38 weeks and 1 day - At around 5 pm I decide that it's a good time to start stocking the fridge with pre-prepared meals. So the husband and I stand in the kitchen for about 3 hours cooking and freezing enough dal and sambar and curry to last us a week. That night as I hit the sack I ask the husband if there's enough petrol in his car if we needed to go to the hospital later.

38 weeks and 2 days - I'm up earlier than usual. I ring my mother and tell her that I had a strange feeling about the day. She panics but puts on a brave front (bless her!). She suggests I drink plenty of fluids and go back to bed. Later that morning, I pack the husband and son off, make myself a spot of early lunch, send an email off to a friend about how I thought today might be the day, draw myself a hot bath and then settle down for a nap. At around 1.40 pm, my eyes fly wide open. I check the time in the clock by the bedside. I know right then that the time had come.

I get dressed, come downstairs, ring the husband and ask him to come home. I have my second contraction. They are coming in 25 minutes apart. I call the hospital and inform them of this development. They ask me to ring them when I was having them a bit more frequently. The school was next. Could they please have my son ready at the school office for my husband to pick him up? And why hasn't my husband come home yet? The neighbour who was supposed to care for my son has already left work. So I try her mobile which goes unanswered. She must be on her way home. I leave a message asking her to get in touch with me straightaway. Outside a storm is on its way. I hope it doesn't make driving conditions difficult for us.

It's 2.30 pm, the contractions are coming in way too quickly and I know that we have to rush. As luck would have it, every single traffic light turns to red and we approach it. I grip my husband's so hard, I nearly break his fist (he claims later). But out of respect for my situation, he doesn't complain of the pain. We reach the hospital at 3 pm and I'm barely able to walk. The husband dashes out to fetch a wheelchair. Unable to sit in the car, I start making my way out to the birth centre. I collapse on the ground and am heaved onto the wheelchair by strangers. The contractions are coming in 2 minutes apart.

I reach the birth centre and flop onto a bean bag. The midwives are brilliant in there. I know straightaway that things are going to be alright. It's 4.10 pm and I am beyond exhaustion. But from somewhere deep within I summon this fiendish strength. And with one mighty heave, I push out a tiny little bundle. I'd had just 2.5 hours of labour.

The rest of the procedure is pretty usual. And I'm back home the very next day.

Some 6 weeks later, I have no regrets about our decision to not seek help from our families. It has, by no means been easy going. I have sorely missed being pampered and being fussed over. I cannot even begin to compare the unbridled joyous celebrations that accompanied the birth of my first son with the muted merriment that greeted the arrival of our second. But on the plus side, I have been able to relax and enjoy my time with the newborn without a cloud of anxiety hanging over me all the time. Even small things like breast feeding the baby where I want to in house without having to go into a secluded corner because there are others in the room, have helped greatly. Of course, none of this would have been possible had it not been for the brilliantly supportive husband. I know how lucky I am and what a gem he is! By and large, it has been a much more enjoyable experience this time. And that alone is worth all the sacrifices.

(only just begun)


~nm said...

I have been following this series and I must say I had been waiting for the next part every time I finished reading the latest one.

I also agree with you on some parts although not sure if I can pull it off without anyone's help. But I do remember how much stressful it was to have my in-laws around.

My son would feed every hour for 45 min at a stretch and for 1.5 months till I was with my in-laws I was stuck to my bedroom with no TV, nothing and I was going crazy. And I also know that whenever it will be the next time, I won't have a choice of not having my own space.

Anonymous said...

Glad that it worked out for you. Pulling it off without anyone's help make you feel nicer... I think it's your husband's confidence and the nature of work that made it a huge success. hats of to him.

Reading your post, i felt like, she did, so i can also do it. but, doing it alone depends on the age of the first baby, nature of husband's work [doesnt work out with one who leaves at 6am and come as early as 8pm]. dont you think?

Anonymous said...

Beautifully written Ammani

Anonymous said...

Fascinating series...look forward to the rest!

Anonymous said...

I am reading your story like I am reading a text book and underlining key points and taking notes in my mind - (listening to the intuition(will I be able to, have I lost connection to it), birth center not delivery center(hurraaah!), trust on midwives(how lucky), hot bath - yes - as soon as the intuition says - good nap, plenty of fluids (really? I should remember, note down, note down), pleasurable privacy - yes, couldnt agree more, and bean bag - forgot to place our order I remember - no birthing balls here, I can get a bean bag ... and take it in the car!!! :) ...)

and ofcourse the 2.5 hours look very scarily short as we read through the minutes. But definitely preferable if it ends so well.

Among other things, I also believe the husband doesnt get to play a key role when mother takes over as the person in charge. This way it is a great time of bonding for the husband and wife! Ofcourse the privacy and freedom is the most attractive component of less helping hands around.

Anonymous said...

yeay...three cheers to motherhood...and now begins the hardest part, for another 15 yrs atleast(??) wonder they said pregnancy is the easiest part of having a baby!!

Shammi said...

Wow, ammani - you cut it close, didnt you? S might have been a car-born baby! :) I'm very glad you only had 2.5 hours of labour (my SIL had 18 hours of it, poor girl!). Three cheers for the husband, by the way!

Sowmya Srikrishnan said...


First of all, congratulations on the birth of your second one.

Been reading your blog for sometime now. Will try and be a regular here.

The series is good...neatly written and reminds me so much of my own - I had my baby in about 3-4hours of labour. Maybe should write about it!

All the best. Managing two kids, I guess, is stressful.

When I have my second I hope to turn back here for some awesome advice :)

Unknown said...

And the best supporting award goes to "THE HUSBAND".... You should write a post on his feelings too. He was watching your second innings from the other side in a silent fashion... I wonder how, your eldest son felt about this whole process of getting a 'Thambi paapa'

Anonymous said...

Been a long time reader - delurking to say Congrats on Tikku and congrats again on a super fast labor! 2.5hrs is a record or what? I am amazed by your strength of refusing all help from family; and am glad you shared your story with us.

-kodi's mom

Anonymous said...

I am so empathetic to your situation. I'm in my last few weeks, and am already flooded with dos and don'ts, and 'help' that I have no option to refuse. Really dreading the post-baby phase for this very same reason. If it were up to me, we'd do it on our own, we'd probably struggle but figure it out in the long run.

Anonymous said...

A lurker for a long time... delurking to say congratulations! Have been reading this series and like ~NM says waited for the next installment as soon as the previous one was read... thankfully things worked out fine for you! *touchwood*

the mad momma said...

i havent been around in a while and i am surprised to find an addition to the family! Congratulations...

I loved reading the series.... and yes - you bet second time without family around is much easier. I say this despite having had a C-sec and a little toddler to handle.

LAK said...

Congrats, and yes, hats off to the hubby!Haven't been here for quite a while. Really, husb-wife bonding wdn't be so much if parents were around at the time of the birth and after.

Anonymous said...

"Its all in the mind", isn't it? I appreciate the confidence you had and hearty congrats on delivering the "sweet bundle"!!

I thoroughly enjoyed this series of posts!

Anonymous said...

hey, this is the first time am checking ur blog, must say, very well written. I didnt have family support after c-section for my only born and had become a nervous wreck with postpartum deppression for almost 1-1/2 yrs.Its been very difficult for me n I wouldn't hv survived if not for my hubby!