After a pregnancy mired with sickness, nausea and discomfort, I was looking forward to my baby’s arrival. The week leading up to the due date of February 20, 2016, was very eventful due to a friend’s wedding! On February 19, after attending the mehendi lunch, I fell into bed at 7 p.m., willing myself to sleep. Half an hour later, I heard a ‘POP’ and discovered excessive fluid in my clothes. There was no pain, so I didn’t realise my water had broken.
My husband and I had taken birthing classes, I’d practiced prenatal yoga, I had booked a birthing doula to help me deal with the labour process, so I was very keen on a natural vaginal delivery, and mentally prepared for a painful labour.
I ignored the liquid that kept gushing out of my body but at 9:30 p.m., I felt the first contraction. I finally understood my water had broken but following my birth plan, I decided to wait till the contractions reached the textbook length of 5 minutes apart and 1 minute long. My husband helped distract me over the next few hours by playing cards and watching ‘FRIENDS’. I spoke to my doula who advised rest till the contractions built up. The pains increased drastically around midnight soon after which, I started throwing up. In the span of 4 hours, I vomited thrice without the contractions turning rhythmic, so I called my doctor. I reached the hospital around 4:30 a.m. My doctor arrived soon after and performed an internal exam to discover I was already 5 cms dilated. She was sure that baby would arrive in the next few hours, so I called my family and my doula to join us.
The main problem I faced was the continual vomiting after each contraction. I’d double over in pain with a contraction and immediately after experience more pain, spilling my guts out (there was nothing in my stomach at this point, so only acid emerged). I was put on a drip so I wouldn’t lose energy. My husband stood with me throughout this ordeal, massaging, encouraging and being very helpful. My doula also tried to alleviate the pain. She massaged my wrists to help the nausea, and made me bounce on a pilates ball for the back pain. After about 35-40 rounds of throwing up, the pain won and at 8 cms dilated, I begged for some relief from this double whammy of contractions and vomiting. Though this point is usually considered too late for an epidural, even my doctor agreed that I needed it.
The epidural gave me immediate relief and stopped the nausea, which was my body’s defence mechanism of dealing with the intense pain. Unfortunately, it wore off 1.5 hours later. I received a top up which also lasted 1.5 hours. Throughout this process my dilation remained 8 cms. I was given some Oxytocin to induce further dilation but since that stopped the contractions completely, it was taken off. It had now been 5 hours without any change. My doctor voiced her suspicions that my pelvis was refusing to open for baby’s head due its large size. She was beginning to worry about baby’s heartbeat being affected if we waited too long. That’s the first time the idea of a C-Section was introduced. My doctor herself was such a strong supporter of natural birth that we had never discussed a Caesarean before this! Despite my mental protestations, my body was beyond exhausted after being in labour for 18 hours and I agreed to the C-Section.
Unfortunately my husband wasn’t allowed in the surgery room with me, and couldn’t witness the moment of birth. Even under anaesthesia, I was semi-awake and remember most of my thoughts. I felt the skin on my stomach was akin to pizza dough being stretched and pummelled, when opened and closed up! I rejoiced in the miraculous moment of my doctor picking up my little boy who yelled boisterously without needing any help. As per my wishes I was given immediate skin-to-skin contact, which was the most wonderful feeling.
Having been through the experience, I believe one shouldn’t be too rigid about their birthing plan. It’s important to have a plan and discuss it with your doctor beforehand but one should be mentally prepared for last-minute changes.
Despite the tough labour and operation, I am forever grateful to my doctor who supported me through the entire process and then helped me recover and heal. My husband and my doula were also a huge support. Giving birth to my son was a blessing and he was worth all the pain!