Born – 4/5/06

9:42 am

1st May 2006. 36.6 weeks

As I pull back my matted hair from my sweaty forehead and tied it tightly behind, I gasp, ‘Gosh, Is Bangalore getting hotter by the year, or is it just that this huge belly making me so hot?’

Nikki asks everyday ‘When is our baby going to come?’  To egg her excitement on, I take her to Lifestyle to shop for some baby clothes. Such an array of tiny, frilly wonderful stuff! I search for gender-neutral colors – ‘Sigh, wish I knew if it was a girl or a boy…’All I get are some dirty yellows or depressing greens. I pick some of those. In addition, I throw in a soft, pink fleece (Nikki wants a sister!) and a blue romper (a son would be great!)…We head for Bina’s for lunch where we do gender predictions for the nth time in this pregnancy (belly shape, size, no of freckles on my face…..!).

2nd  May 2006. 37 weeks

My doc, Hema, examines me. The pelvic pain has increased. Even raising feet to wear slippers is painful. The acidity continues. The doc has that look of finality I dread. ‘Your time is up – choose a date from 4th, 5th, 6th May’ for a c-sec.’ I tingle of excitement and fear runs through my body! Alok chooses 4th since that makes the birth date 04/05/06 – unique!

We roam, shopping for a new television that evening. I am tense.

3rd May 2006. One day left!

I am delirious with panic! All of a sudden, I don’t know why I am getting so jittery. I get horror-filled thoughts about the epidural being contaminated. ‘How much does a wheelchair cost? How would life in a wheelchair be?’ I tug myself away from these thoughts only to wonder ‘Will parents be disappointed if I do not produce a boy?’. Enough, I can’t handle this anymore. With Charu, Rishab and Nikki, I head to Forum to kill time. We watch a movie called ‘Humko Deewana Kar Gaye’ with a morose Katrina and bland Askhay trying to set the screen on fire with their romancing. I am distracted – the acidity in my stomach is closer to setting a fire. Have lunch at Sahib Sindh Sultan. I am in some kind of trance – even though in a conversation, the words seem to hit my ear drum slower than usual.

Spend the evening getting a top to toe grooming done. Everything looks gloomy. ‘We need to change those light bulbs – this place looks so dim.’ Mother-in-law arrives late tonight.

4th  May 2006. THE D DAY!

For most part of the night, I have just tossed and turned. I get up early – I shower at 6:30 am and take a sip of tea (need to be on an empty stomach). I pull on those, by-now- frayed, blue denim maternity shirt and grey slacks. We reach the hospital at 7:00 am. Nikki and MIL stay at home, to come over later.  

I flip through the grubby magazines at the hospital’s reception lobby, as Alok does the paper-work. The pale sun filters through the glass windows on to the aquarium. I feel a sense of calm within…

We are escorted to the floor with the wards. The calm vanishes. I panic again as I am prepared for the surgery. ‘Why are they not letting Alok be here?’ Bina calls me and I have a garbled conversation. She prays with me to make me feel better. Alok is with me now for a brief moment – he holds me and tells me ‘Its going to be fine’.  As I am wheeled out, I see Ravinder has joined Alok.

The operation theater is cold and steely. I shiver under the thin sheets. A nurse gets me a blanket. I get wired to the drips. As I continue to shiver, with the cold and the fear, the nurse holds my hand. I can see some jars with mangled and twined umbilical cords in a pink and brown cocktail of sorts. Not a nice sight.

The wait seems endless. Only to end with my next movement – straight on the operating table. People are bustling around: ward boys, nurses, doctors – business as usual for them. I want anesthesia. I want to sleep and not know what is going on. I lie on that table, fretting and nervous. To my left, there is a surgery in progress behind a screen. I can see the face of the patient. ‘What could it be? C-sec? Hysterectomy? Some other operation? Is she ok? Is it going on fine?’

‘Can you sit up please?’ I look up to see a man talking to me. He must be the anesthetist. A wave of panic squirts up right through my body to my head. I hear myself requesting for general anesthesia. I am repeating myself ‘ I am scared, I am scared’. The nurse starts preparing me for the shot, but the anesthetist asks him to wait. He talks to me and succeeds in calming me to a point where I am ready to take the jab. The prick in my spine is hardly noticeable. The numbness starts spreading to my feet. I lie down. Some more machines are strapped to me.

The doctors are here. They are discussing some matters unrelated to me. They begin preparing me, as they continue to chit chat. ’I hope they are careful.’ I can feel they are cutting me open.  The anesthetist is standing behind my head. In a moment, I he presses my shoulders with great force. I gasp ‘What’s going on?’ No one replies. Maybe, they are trying to push the baby out. The anesthetist leans over me and grasps the baby from the doctor and holds him right over my face “Here is your son!” IT’S A BOY! He looks flawless! I feel a gush of emotions – happiness, relief, gratitude…. ‘Thank you Lord’!

They take the baby to a table to my left. I don’t see them cutting the cord, but I hear a wail. Almost immediately, the baby is quiet. ‘Is everything ok?’ , I ask the anesthetist, who is, by now, my best friend. He assured me everything is fine. ‘Do you still want general anesthesia?’ he asks, jokingly.

I lose track of time. I am not sure when they wheel me out of the OT. I hear Nikki saying ‘Why is mamma coming on a stretcher? Did she have an accident?’ That’s what too much television does to kids, I guess.

For a few days, Alok and I just marvel at our new baby – in blue rompers and pink fleece! He is beautiful. Is that what they call being blessed?