Postpartum… (Too short a story)

The cradle rocked ever so gently. Every time the door to the ward opened and a draught rushed in, the curtains swayed apart affording glimpses into other lives.
She lay on her side. Her left hand stretched out under her, as if ready to receive the bundle. Her manicured fingertips graze the metal hinges of the crib.
A baby cries out. Another joins in. And another…
A cacophony of hungry, indignant cries fill the ward.
In a snap her arms curl back into herself, palms resting on the flattened yet flabby stomach.
As other mothers shush and cajole, wincing she turns away from her cradle; her thighs move as if leaden.
It wasn’t an easy labour. The sutures pull and burn, as she clenches… A Kegel frozen in half motion. But she feels no pain; not even discomfort, as she bleeds into her bedding. Nothing was easy.
For a moment there is an eerie quiet. The little ones have been tended to. Ten toes and 10 little fingers, downy hair and pursed lips, wrinkled skin and unfocused eyes… all kissed, swaddled, cuddled and put to sleep.
Then there is one lonely little defiant cry. A sharp pain shoots across her engorged breasts. She chokes back a sob even as her pillow grows damp. She squeezes her eyes shut blocking out the smells and cries that were not hers to reach out to…
I gently open the door letting in another draught, hoping the cradle wouldn’t creak for the emptiness needs no reminding. I slip away from my dark corner wanting no part in her grief.

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The mind wanders again… to my second pregnancy

I try to be as honest with O as possible. I answer all her questions, and when I feel it would be a bit too much for her to take, I tell her I will explain it to her when she is a little older.

When I was pregnant with N, there was a barrage of queries. One of which was about how the baby will come out, and I told O, the doctor will cut open my stomach and take the baby out. Prophetic 😦

O was delivered the ‘normal’ way – vaginal delivery. Yet, I wasn’t sure if it was too much info to give a 7-year-old.

Then after the birth of N, when O (already aware of other ways of birthing that she has seen on animal planet and cbeebies) pressed on.

I knew how frightened she was to see me lying in a daze with an IV stuck into me, unresponsive to her chatter, after the surgery.

In fact, the first post-op memory for me is O sitting on my pillow, her thighs pressing against my ear, stroking my hair, and she was calling out to me ever so softly..

I am SO GLAD no one asked her to move away and give her amma some space. Because, what I needed most then was those baby hands on me.

It was then that I decided to tell her that there are different ways in which babies come home, it doesn’t always have to be this scary. Some are adopted. Some are delivered with a cut in the abdomen like her baby sister. And some come out through the vagina, like herself. “Where you go su-su? Yukk!” she frowned.

But I know she was glad that all the half truths she was given were cleared up.

It was also then, recovering slowly from a double dose of anaesthesia that I started wondering why C-sections where so popular.

I can’t understand how people opt for caesareans over vaginal births. Yes, the labour is painful, and the vaginal sutures hurt like crazy, but it’s all gotten over with so quickly.

After O’s birth, almost within the hour I was up and about. Could lift the baby, and hold her for long; could feed sitting up; and was back to my routine in just a couple of weeks.

Three months after N’s birth, my back hurts, my lower abdomen is still kind of numb, I can’t bend down and lift weights, I can’t even carry her for too long. I had to feed her lying down the first few days.

My ObGyn in Madras was, but even she didn’t quite prepare me for what a C-sec had in store.

If I had insisted on a C (instead of going through with it because I HAD to), would she have educated me on what I was doing. That there are chances of post-op arthritis, hernia, and general weakening of your body?

I keep hearing stories of ‘hospitals’ (not so much nursing homes) going in for C-sections without give the patient a chance at normal delivery. It is called NORMAL for a reason after all.

I even know a friend who was asked to go in for a C, a couple of days before her due date, because the ObGyn would be travelling for two weeks after that.

And then what about those who are into astrology and alignment of stars, and opt for the C?

Do check this link.

My doc waited nearly 2 whole days before she decided to wheel me into the OR. Check this for similar experiences others had with her.

I will be thankful to her, for spending that kind of time and effort on me.

Yes, that’s what doctors are meant to do, but how many really keep the oath?

We put our trust in doctors, but why do they so often take steps that are not in the patient’s interest?

I will also be thankful to my doctor and the nurses for insisting that I breastfeed my baby within an hour of coming back to the room. For ensuring that the baby was exclusively breastfed. Even when I was in such pain, lying flat on my back, the nurse came in every two hours and held the baby to my breasts.

These are simple things that we and our babies OUGHT to take for granted. Babies need to be breastfed. But it always isn’t so. Someone else who had a baby around the same time as me says the first feed the baby received was from a bottle. That became the habit.

Let me not wander too much. My highly-opinionated breastfeeding tales deserve a separate post.