This article was written almost a year back... Now our 'little' Nemo is one year and four months old...
So here goes finally... After dithering over it... putting it off for the lack of courage... finally... finally I believe I've gathered enough courage to write about the birth of our bundle of joy 'Nemo'.
My wife and I came to know of our imminent parenthood soon after we came back from a holiday in the winters of 2005. It turned out we had 'done' it before we had left for the holiday. So for the first seven weeks of 'Nemo's' coming into being (albeit in cellular form) we were oblivious to his existence. We (as in me and my wife) did everything an expecting mommy is not supposed to do in those initial days... travel a lot... (we travelled about 3500 kms in a span of 20 days)... carried weight (travel bags)... ate outside... (heck we attended two marriages... what were we supposed to do...)... Anyways, the pregnancy went of well... very well by most standards... Except for a few bouts of indigestions and lots of bouts of moodiness my wife took it really really well. In India we are not allowed to know the sex of the baby thru the USG neither were we interested... we were ready to wait a few days for our 'surprise'... My wife has this amazing knack of predicting sex of a baby from the size of the belly of a pregnant woman. Turned out she did was right about herself too :-) .
Somewhere midway towards the full term we moved to a bigger house expecting at-least one of our parents (either her's or mine) to be with us soon after the kiddo arrived. This significantly reduced my travel time to and from office which in a way was good. I could come over from office anytime I wanted. Late nights were sometimes inevitable and almost without fail resulted in a lot of disagreements between the two of us about my job. Anyways, with the baby around the corner I wasn't ready to rock the boat so it was grin and bear.
Eight months went by and soon we entered the period of uncertainty. The doc checkups got from once in three weeks to two weeks... ten days... then a week... and finally every two days... Things were going fine except for the fact that the doc wasn't happy about the amount of weight my wife had put on. In the end he just gave up...
There probably isn't a birth story without it's share of false alarms. A week into the ninth month my wife had abdominal cramps and off we went to the hospital. We owned a car so transport wasn't a problem. The hospital was about 5 kms away hence that wasn't a problem either... So when the alarm bells started ringing the first time we packed the 'baby stuff' and off we went to the hospital. Thirty minutes later after a quick test for contractions intensity she was diagnosed with gas and let off with an injection for the indigestion. So we came back in the middle of the night and decided to leave the bag with 'baby stuff' in the car. In a way the false alarm was really really good. It took off all the pressure of the actual thing.
Five days after the false alarm my wife woke up in the wee hours of the morning saying she felt cramping but wasn't sure... Groggy with sleep I suggested what I had read on babycenter.co.uk, 'walk a little or take a warm bath'. She did both and came back feeling better. I conked off thereafter. Finally in the morning we had our breakfast and since the discomfort was still there decided to go to the hospital just to get the obvious discounted. We really thought it was just another false alarm.
I had seen the device that measured intensity of contractions. It has two to four sensors strapped on to the belly that essentially sent back the baby's heartbeat and rate and intensity of muscle contraction of the uterus. I guess it works pretty much like a seismograph that measures earthquakes and a stethoscope that docs use to 'hear' about the state of the heart or lungs, put together for the heartbeat and contraction monitoring.
I distinctly remembered the graph that had come out the first time. So second time when my wife was strapped I knew what to expect. Then came the surprise, this time the contractions were for real, the scale was totally different from last time. So twenty minutes into the test and the nurses told us... "okay, it's on it's way..." It didn't sink-in until much later... I was with my Dad and my wife was in a labour room with two beds. We wanted the deluxe room that would offer the required amount to privacy for me to be with my wife. Luckily for us the only Deluxe room was available at the time. So I went ahead and made arrangements for her to be moved into the private ward. Thus started the countdown.
My wife was taking it very well and I was beginning to act stupid like asking her what channel on TV she wanted to watch :-0 .
Right in the beginning the doc-in-charge asked my wife if she wanted an epidural. An epidural is a form of anesthetization which reduces the pain. At the time she said no.
Two hours down the line the graph being churned out of by the contractions and heart beat monitor started going awry. I was asked to keep an eye on it and I immediately called the nurses to point out the anomaly. After a few anxious exchange of glances the doc in charge rushed out and made a desperate sounding call to our gynecologist. She came back and gave my wife an oxygen line and asked her to breathe. Though I had read about it at the time, we hadn't gone to any pre-natal classes so I forgot that deep-breathing is a part of the 'job'. The oxygen supply seemed to put things back on track and I started encouraging her to breathe deeply. I didn't have to make any efforts for that (I was breathing heavily from the tension already), but I could make out she did have to concentrate very hard. Things however got back to normal on the charts and everyone seemed to relax a little. Essentially anomalies in chart essentially showed fluctuating baby-heart-rate. A drop in baby heart rate is not acceptable and means baby is under stress which is very dangerous.
Status of the birth process is gauged by what's referred to as 'dilation' of the cervix. It's said about 10 cms of dilation for a baby to be born normally. And the rule of the thumb is it takes about an hour for the cervix to dilate a cm.
When the scare with the baby heart rate happened the 'dilation' was measure to be around 5 cms by the doctor on duty. It turned out she was a relative newbie (probably an intern doing her specialization). Soon enough the birth pangs reached a level that stretched my wife's threshold and she asked for an epidural expecting another 5 hours of labour remaining. It was a Sunday and no anesthetists were on duty. So they had to be called for. Forty five minutes later a lady doc appeared. Another measurement of dilation was made and it turned out the dilation was 7 cms now :-0. The anesthesist said now was too late to go for an epidural since she was almost there. It seems the ansthesia takes about an hour to set in. The doc on duty meanwhile made a desperate call to the Gynecologist with the updated data. Soon enough we saw over-halls being prepared for the Gynecologist and I realized that it was now very very close... By now my wife's contractions had gone off scale on the graph and she was ready to 'push'. A 'push' is the natural urge that facilitates the movement of the baby from the womb to the world. For some reason the doc in charge kept tell my wife NOT to push. Later I realized she was probably in-experienced to handle a birth by herself and wanted to delay the actual event till the Senior Doc arrived. He arrived soon enough and was ready in a jiffy. He took one look and started joking about the junior doc's miscalculation of the 'dilation' and jibed her about how the dilation could have gone from 5 cms to 10 cms in a matter of 45 minutes. By this time my wife was fighting the pain and the urge to push really hard. The doc simply told her 'don't stop breathing when you push... get your breathing in rhythm and push'... I heard my wife asking how much more time and the doc said 1-2 more pushes and it will be done... indeed it was the third push when the little guy popped out. I was standing in the background trying to avoid the gory details of the birth but I was there to see the little one come out... the doc held him upside down... one pat on the bum and that cry of relief from the little one indicating things were well and good. What I realized later was that the doc had performed an episitiomy which essentially is making a cut to increase the opening of the birthcanal. The practice is debated but still regarded 'safer' that a 'tear' where the birthcanal under trauma of the birth may 'tear' unevenly. The 'stiching' up of the 'cut' is performed immediately after the birth (and I guess the afterbirth) without any anesthesia so it is also a little painful, but soon after the birth, the pain is masked by the relief of bringing the little one to life.
So there it was, the little one, the little 'pitlush', cleaned up quickly and bundled into a little white waddle by the neo-natal specialist. He weighed in at 3.3 Kgs that's about 7 pounds and measured 52 cms at birth. Also there was my wife, tired exhausted and happy that the nine month old saga had come to a happy (and correctly predicted) ending. I was the one in the happiest frame of mind at that moment, I had seen and experienced the birth of our baby...
FootNote: A child birth involves a lots of blood and fluids flowing all over the place. You cannot be queasy about it. It's not just the birth but at-least till a couple of days after. You have to be strong to bear that, if you really want to be the 'man' by your wife. Frankly I wasn't very confident of myself, but I came out better than I had given myself credit for. In the end I was happy to be by my wife at the time. And when I say 'by' I don't mean pacing up and down a corridor but right there... beside the birth table... at the time of the birth... Eventually it gave me a lot of respect for my wife, for that matter respect for any mother who has brought a life-form to earth... Secretly, I am glad guys don't have to go thru it... phew...
Ahem: Corrected 'anatomical' errors. Thanks Praji!!!