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)