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Pregnancy, Birth story, and beyond



This post is not for the faint-hearted. Read it at your own discretion. :)


“She hardly played model kitchen setup in her childhood. The day she started going to school, she wanted to imitate her teacher. She would make everyone in her daycare sit in her pretend class. Otherwise, all her toys would be her students and she would be their teacher”, my mom said to Sushant.

“Oh yes! That explains why she likes to be in charge. She likes to control things.”, added Sushant.

“Oh my god! You both are talking about me while I am sitting right here. At least wait till I leave the room”, I said while pretending to be annoyed, but I was happy to hear my childhood stories. It usually brings me back to the center. It helps me find out who I am. This discussion did nothing less.

As an independent woman who grew up with so much control over her own life, I have been feeling so helpless and vulnerable for so long. All the thoughts of what has been happening for the past 3 months, oh wait past 1 year, just rushed through me.

 

I couldn’t contain my happiness when I found out about the pregnancy. I wanted the 9 months of pregnancy to just pass in a blink of an eye. I read lots of literature on symptoms, and physical and emotional changes so much so that I would have just topped the class of pregnancy. Typical me!


I was very much looking forward to my first ultrasound, and the first thing I learned was that I have a bi-cornuate uterus. Less than 1% of women in the whole world have this uterine abnormality. If a normal uterus looks like a regular balloon, a bi-cornuate uterus is a heart-shaped balloon which means the dent that makes it heart-shaped would leave less room for the baby to grow. It would mean the uterus may not be completely developed to provide the necessary nutrients to the fetus. In that case, we may need to drop the pregnancy — the ultrasound technician announced. If not, due to a lack of room in the uterus, the baby may be born prematurely. Or at the time of the delivery baby’s head may not have been engaged (head facing down) so that would lead to a c-section. Modern technology could not tell how big the dent was to fall in any of the categories. So the doctor told us to just hang in there.

Living 1000 miles away from my parents, the only emotional support I had was Sushant. Learning the news, we just could not help each other. All we did was cry in each other’s arms and put up a strong face in front of our families. It was difficult not to think about it. While everyone told us to be strong, no one could tell what we both were going through. All I had in my mind was I need to make sure this pregnancy goes beyond the first trimester and that everything else is acceptable.


The first trimester was the longest. I had no physical evidence that I was pregnant, so ended up taking countless pregnancy tests every week as doctor’s appointments were monthly. I wanted assurance every day. The second trimester got me constant assurance as there were flutters, kicks, and rolling of the baby in the womb. It is the most magical feeling in the world. Middle of the second trimester, my belly bump was noticeable, putting my private life to display. I used to be shy. Later, I learned to flaunt it. It’s a wonderful feeling.


As I started in my third trimester, things got even better. With each scan, the baby’s health was getting better. I was doing better both emotionally and physically. I was looking forward to my life as a mother. I wanted to hold my sweet pie in my hands. The days were passing very slowly though. Every week I would read about how big my baby is. Thanks to Sushant’s encouragement, I was exercising daily, keeping myself centered with mindfulness activities. My in-laws made sure I ate healthy food throughout. I was happy and content. Then, hit the 37th week, when everyone only talked about how “baby will be here anytime!”. I was expecting that too. Every day I woke up with a thought today is the day when I get to hold my munchkin. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen that way. I was overdue by 1 week. The cervix needs to be dilated to 10 cm and effaced to 100% for the baby to come out. The process had only started. At the mark of the expected delivery date, I was only effaced 25% with no dilation. No day passed by in thinking about what was wrong with my body, why is it not ready to give birth yet. While I was going through emotional turmoil, the remarks from people who are not my doctors only made the situation worse. But Sushant and I were holding on to each other. Till the last day of the pregnancy, the only thing I did was to remind myself what my doctor said: “Only 10% of women deliver on the due date. It is very common for the first pregnancy to go beyond the due date”. Sushant would add, “Remember E in EDD stands for estimated. It is just an estimation so don’t worry”

When I hit the 1-week mark after the EDD, the doctor decided to induce me with labor pains. It was a terrible terrible experience. It is 1000 times worse than period pains. I was in pain. I couldn’t say a word. Breathing through the contraction was difficult. God must have hated women to have made them suffer through this. Anesthesia works but only to some extent. I couldn’t bear it. 24 hours of labor and no improvement. Then things started to go downhill. As contractions became stronger, the baby’s heart rate was dropping with every contraction. I was taken to the c-section OT with new anesthesia in my body and a lot of IV fluid to reduce the frequency of contraction. With anesthesia, Doctor told me I will not feel the pain but I will feel the pressure. I didn’t understand this until every layer in my body was cut open to bring the 7-pound baby out. I was in tears. I was crying. I was screaming in pain. I can’t tell what is the equivalent of the pressure pain I felt. It was a horrible horrible thing. I still get goosebumps when I recall the experience. When the baby came out I was crying in pain. Can you imagine, the entire 9 months and 1 week I waited for this moment to hear my baby’s first cry, to only realize I am also the one crying in pain? Barely had the courage to smile in the middle of the surgery when the nurse brought the baby to me. Let me tell you — love at first sight is a myth.


3 months after birth have been the most difficult of all. 4th trimester, as they call it. It was a rebirth. My body went through a lot of changes to make room to grow a tiny human and 3 months after delivery, it was still not back to normal. I was experiencing baby blues and borderline postpartum depression. I cried and panicked for no reason. Once I cried because Sushant told me that he can’t put the baby carrier by himself. Then another time, Sushant was experiencing lots of hiccups. I got so anxious. I couldn’t sleep. I imagined the worst and asked him to take a COVID-19 test. I was getting triggered by many small things. I had no control over my emotions. They just flew over me. They had been overpowering my mind. I was not in my element to care about people’s feelings. When one is in pain, one can’t love. I knew for a fact this was not me.


Breastfeeding is another challenge that no one told me about. It was the most challenging thing when I had undergone the complicated surgery. It was downright difficult. Period. It was new for me. It was new for the baby. It definitely took a mental and physical toll on me. 3 months into the process, now I am getting the hang of it. I feel by the time I will fully grasp the technique, it would be time to wean the baby from breastfeeding. Why to do it then? As every baby is unique, so is the breastmilk. Nature has programmed women’s bodies to make customized milk as per babies’ personal needs. It helps shrink the uterus for the mother. And the process releases oxytocin which is a love hormone that helps mom and baby to bond.

While my mom stated an example of how I like to take control, all I felt was how nothing is in my control when it came to my own body and emotions. Meanwhile, I was doing what life had taught me, show up with a strong face! Things didn’t improve, rather, they got worse both physically and mentally. Then, I decided to take charge. I am seeing a physical therapist. I am seeing an emotional wellness counselor. I am seeing a lactation consultant. Fortunately, things are trending better. My abdominal separation is healing. My baby blues are subsiding. I am gearing up to go to work.


Many will say so many women have gone through this and will go through it in the future. Why are you brooding and crying over it? If this is in your mind, I feel sorry for you!

Remember, every pregnancy is different. Every baby is different. No one does it every day to accept it as normal. After what women go through during pregnancy and postpartum, if they take out time for themselves to hang out with their friends while their husbands take care of the baby, trust me, they deserve this time off and many other things that they like to do.

How can you help? If you know a couple who just had a baby, don’t forget to ask, “How are you doing emotionally?” Because once the baby is here, people forget to check on parents and so do new parents forget to check on themselves. Taking care of a newborn is a lot of work.


This is neither a sympathy post nor meant to scare any prospective moms. I realized that as much as I was ready for the baby, I wasn’t ready for the things that have shaken me mentally and physically. I was not prepared for the postpartum. I was not prepared for feeling helpless and vulnerable. No one warned me about it. I know that this is temporary. Million other women have gone and will go through it. Some will forget the struggle and some will live with it. I decided to document it. Because there is always ‘behind the scene’ which Instagram and Facebook photos will not tell you about.


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