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Stories of Birth, Pregnancy, and Newborns

Birth ButterflyThe Pregnancy and Birth of Ishita

By Pooja A, ThePumpkinShop

It will be 5 years tomorrow since the day I became a mother and as I look back I can confidently say this has been by far the best thing I have ever done in my entire 32 years – become a mommy to a beautiful little girl called Ishita (Ishita means 'Highly Desired' or 'Superiority' in Sanskrit).

Looking back, a lot of the moments are actually frozen in time for me … kind of like when a world event of catastrophic proportions happens and time freezes and everyone knows exactly where they were and what they were doing when it happened. I so clearly remember the days leading up to the discovery of being pregnant …

Flashback June 2003:

I was visiting my mom who lives in another city when the first signs that I may be pregnant started showing up … I didn’t want tea and toast for breakfast (which has been my staple breakfast for over 20 years!). I couldn’t stay awake past 10 in the evening (I’m a night bird otherwise … 12 midnight is regular bedtime for me – or used to be before my little girl came on the scene!) and an afternoon nap sounded heavenly.

My mom just thought I was super-tired holding down a job and trying to be a perfect wife and daughter in law. I wasn’t suffering from any nausea or dizziness, so the tiredness was easily explained away. I had also just the previous month experienced an extremely delayed period so assumed that this was another delay and was looking to set up an appointment with my gynac to check for PCOD of which I have a family history.

I did mention to my husband over the phone that there is a small possibility we could be pregnant, but we both felt there was little chance of it.

July 2003:

I was scheduled to fly back home on 7th July and had more or less put the thought of pregnancy out of my mind. But some more signs showed up on the flight … I ended up gorging down the entire in-flight meal before it was even fully served! And this from someone who so detests in-flight food that I don’t even accept the tray normally. On this trip however, not only did I eat the entire meal I was ready to ask for seconds!

Not only that, but again I couldn’t stay awake. I was so so so sleepy I lay down (the two seats next to mine were empty) and dozed off immediately for the entire 2 hour flight.

On the way home from the airport, I told my husband what had happened and we both agreed perhaps we should get a home pregnancy kit just to be sure … so we picked one on the way home.

I got home and of course the first thing I did was to run and check and lo and behold! There it was – or rather were – two pink lines.

I read and re-read the instructions thrice over to be sure that two pink lines meant what I thought they meant and sure enough … we were pregnant.

I’m not sure if many expecting mothers have the same reaction but I started crying and sobbing. We weren’t planning to have any kids for at least another 2 years so this was a complete shock. Then again – as someone told me – “We don’t plan to have kids, kids plan to come to us”.

In my mind there was never any doubt that I would have the baby (I adore kids and have often considered having at least 4!). It just took some mental adjusting that the baby was going to arrive even before our second anniversary.

The First Trimester

Once I accepted the fact that I was going to have a baby, things became pretty exciting. I loved being pregnant. My TO DO and NOT TO DO lists were never ending. To Do’s included drinking milk everyday, eating lots of green vegetables and having at least 3 fruits a day. I wanted a perfectly healthy and vitamin filled baby (as I’m sure we all do!) and being a first time mommy I was willing to do whatever it took.

The Not To Do’s included drinking tea and coffee, eating chocolate, eating Chinese food and all junk food in general.

Frankly, as soon as the doctor put me on Folic Acid and Calcium supplement the nausea hit so severely that the mere thought of food was a turn off. By the 12th week of my pregnancy I had in fact lost close to 10 pounds (which was not so worrying since I was a healthy size 12 at that time). Giving up the junk food was not so difficult initially.

The first trimester was also when we did our first ultrasound and heard the baby’s heart beat the first time. This was in our 8th week … a tiny black dot amidst a lot of grey and black abstract never looked so gorgeous before.

The Second Trimester

By the time the second trimester began, I was starting to get a little fed up of the nausea. It wouldn’t let up and since I hate being unwell I had started taking some anti-nausea pills (the name of which I now forget!).

I was pretty comfortable other than that and rather excited about the whole baby birthing affair. I had also found out that my older sister was pregnant too and due just 3 weeks after myself so I had company. We compared notes constantly and it was fun.

In October things went a little awry … I had a bleeding episode. Out of the blue and unexpectedly, I noticed blood in the toilet when I went to the restroom. Things are a little hazy but I remember calling my husband from work and heading to the doctor immediately.

She put me under observation overnight, did an ultra sound and ran some tests. Luckily for us the baby was fine. The episode scared us a fair bit and I was asked to be on bed rest until further notice. That was definitely not fun! As it turned out we later realized that this was due to some minor hemorrhoids which are fairly common in pregnancy. The doctor told me there was no need for bed rest but that I had to increase my daily intake of water and fiber considerably.

I knew drinking water was a problem because in general I rarely ever have more than 4-5 glasses a day. So the new addition to my To Do list was to drink at list 12-16 glasses of water a day! *phew* This pregnancy thing was not as easy as I’d thought it to be.

The Third Trimester

Coming into the third trimester I had started showing and the highlight of this period had to be the baby kicking. I had felt the initial burp-like flutters but these kicks were strong, hard and furious. And absolutely delightful!

This is also the time when my husband could actually feel the baby and be a part of the physical pregnancy. He had been extremely supportive so far and seeing the baby kicking and being able to feel its feet at time and the head at times was awesome.

I was gaining weight now and getting to the uncomfortable stage, but other than waddling a bit it was all ok. The food urges were also coming on strong … I woke up one afternoon dreaming of Mexican Fajitas and wanted one right then – and I’d never before eaten a fajita! I am the burrito kind of person.

Another food that I couldn’t get enough of was ‘Idlis’. These are South Indian delicacies made from rice batter – kind of like steamed rice patties. I was simply gorging on them!

As I neared completion of my 8th month, the reality of the baby was finally sinking in. We started preparing little clothes, diapers, bottles and the myriad of things that we needed for the baby. In our culture we do not make a newborn wear ‘new’ clothes immediately. We make them wear ‘borrowed’ or ‘old’ clothes for 6 – 40 days (varies from family to family) to keep away the evil eye.

I had already got a pile of ‘old’ clothes from a cousin of mine who had recently had a baby, so much of my shopping was already done for me. My doctor had already given us a head’s up that the baby was due on 29th February! Now there was something to worry about. A birthday only every four years!

Going Into Labour …

About a week before she was due to arrive, I got concerned because I hadn’t felt much movement from the baby all day. By evening I was seriously concerned and we decided to pay the doctor a visit, as we had been told to monitor the baby’s movements. We were advised to do an ultrasound immediately to ensure everything was ok.

We did so and as chance would have it the doctor there casually mentioned that our little girl was fine. We hadn’t thought to ask the gender of the baby but I was extremely keen on a baby girl and my husband was looking forward to a little fella. Knowing I was going to have a little girl added more excitement to the event if that’s possible.

My husband though keen on a boy adapted quickly enough at the thought of being papa to a precious girl.

A week later I still hadn’t gone into labour and my doctor thought it unwise to wait any longer. She was concerned that the baby was already of a good size and if she grew much larger then we’d have to opt for a C-section.

On 1st March 2004 my doctor decided to induce labour late at night and have the baby out by the next day.

The Arrival Of Our Baby Girl

Despite all the excitement I was rather calm. I was prepared for the arrival of my baby girl and more than ready to welcome her into the world.

However, things did not proceed quite as planned. Even though my doctor was expecting early labor to begin by 4 am or so it was close to 7 am and I hadn’t felt a single pang or pain. I was as comfortable as ever.

At around 8 am when the nurse came in to monitor the baby’s heartbeat we got a bit of a fright as she could not detect any heartbeat. The doctor came racing in and after a few more anxious minutes did pick up a very slow beat. She continued to monitor the baby’s heartbeat for the next 5-8 minutes and then told me that the baby was in ‘distress’. We would have to opt for a C-section.

In effect, what had happened was that I had started labour, but the contractions were barely 2-3 seconds long and I couldn’t feel any pain. However, the baby was feeling the contractions and was getting distressed due to which the heartbeat was fluctuating wildly. My doctor told me we could still wait and let the labour progress further but it was unadvisable as things could go wrong rapidly.

We opted to go for the C-section rather than risk anything happening to the baby.

After that things moved pretty fast. I was taken into the OT and given local anesthesia. I do remember a few things that went on during the C-section but not much … At 10:32 am we were declared proud parents of a gorgeous little baby girl. A full head of hair, extra long fingers and toes and a ruddy and scrunched face.  I’ve yet to see anything more beautiful …

In fact, I just found out yesterday that we’re pregnant again … perhaps we’ll get to see another gorgeous baby girl in 8 months or so. We couldn’t possibly ask for more!

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