July 11th last year was like a normal Saturday, when I wanted to rest and my wife had already made her shopping list.
As usual, I wasn’t given a choice. It was an overcast day and to be honest, Delhi is the last place you should think about driving to when you are expecting a rain. But, we left nonetheless. I helped her sit in our SUV. You can imagine its little h….Oops I almost forgot to mention that my wife was in her ninth month of pregnancy and her gynec visit wasn’t due for another week. Her EDD (Expected Date of Delivery if you are not familiar with the acronym) was 24th July. We were told that she was in her safe period of pregnancy.
So, as I was saying, I helped her sit and we left our home at about 11 o’clock in the morning. The moment we left it started drizzling. I was brooding all by myself as I began to imagine how the drive is going to turn out to be. But alas, life had different plans.
“I couldn’t sleep properly last night.”
“Why?” I asked, while carefully negotiating a road full of potholes.
“I was feeling cramps in my lower abdomen and back.”
I tensed, “How are you feeling right now”
“I am ok right now. I woke up alright in the morning.”
“I think we should go and see Dr. Soni first.”
(Dr. Anita Soni is a very well know gynecologist in Faridabad).
“But she asked us to visit her after a week and we only went to her day before yesterday”
“There is no harm in visiting her again. It will be on the way,” I had an intuition about what was happening and when we visited her it turned out to be correct.
(She did an internal check up) “Swati is already through her first stage of labour, you guys should rush to the hospital and admit her.”
Swati and I exchanged looks. While she was smiling, I already started sweating under my t-shirt. All the pre-natal sessions that both Swati and I attended came back to me and I realized that we were not carrying her maternity bag, her exercise ball; we weren’t even carrying baby’s stem cell collection kit. I calmly called my father and brother and asked them to get everything to the hospital.
When we came out of gynae’s clinic the rain had started pouring. I carefully helped Swati to the car. The realization about her being in labour made me extra careful. The hospital was around four kilometres away. But, if you are familiar with Faridabad you would know that even this short a distance can be torturous and that too during the rains. It took us around half an hour to reach.
I checked my watch; the time was 12:30 when we entered the hospital lobby. While I completed the admission formalities, the staff shifted Swati to the labour room. My parents and brother joined us in about an hour. I took out my I-pod from her maternity bag and plugged in the ear plugs with Mozart’s music. We were told that it helps in relaxing. I requested the staff for an exercise ball so that Swati can do her pre-natal exercises for a comfortable labour.
While I was making sure that Swati is comfortable, she wasn’t feeling anything at all. There were no labor pains, nothing. Dr. Anita came to check on her at about 3:30 p.m. and left with instructions to her staff to call her as soon as contractions start. When I enquired about the expected timeline, I was told that it could take hours and even a day.
It didn’t take that much time though, and her contractions started at around 5:30. They continued to become longer and stronger. Now Swati was in excruciating pain.
It was still raining hard and I was afraid that Dr. Anita, who had left for home, won’t be able to make it back to the hospital in time. She finally arrived at 6:30 p.m. Her presence itself assured me that everything is going to be alright. I kept on spraying rose-water on her face and back of the neck to comfort Swati.
At 7:15 p.m. Dr. Anita did another internal check up and within few seconds her team of four nurses, one assistant and a pediatrician joined her. I requested her if I can be in the delivery room.
“Are you sure you won’t faint?” She asked with a smile.
“I am sure,” I replied with a resolve.
She asked me to change into sterilized clothing and follow her to the delivery room. By now Swati’s contractions had become stronger and I could see she was in tremendous pain. They started working on the delivery. Doctor asked Swati to count till 10 and push, then repeat. These were one of the longest 20 minutes, with everyone including me trying to encourage Swati to push the baby out and two nurses helping her by putting pressure on her stomach. There was a time when pain was so unbearable that Swati almost pleaded with the doctor for a C-section. Of course the doctor refused, and assured her that it will be over soon, just few more push.
It was 7:36 p.m. when it eventually happened. Everyone was perspiring and out of breath with the effort, except the doctor, when came out a red slimy thing (head first) from inside Swati.
The doctor cut the umbilical cord.
When I saw the baby I couldn’t control my laughter. Everyone, including the doctor in the room joined me, “Why are we laughing?” They asked.
“Khoda pahad nikla chuha,” I said.
The baby was so tiny that it was amusing to see something this small made us struggle this much. I was overjoyed.
I hugged my wife who was exhausted now. The pediatrician immediately wrapped the baby in the towel and took away.
“Baby girl or a boy?” Swati enquired in a whisper.
Then I realized that I was so happy to be a father that I didn’t even bother to check the gender of the baby. This was the moment that made me realize the true meaning of parenthood. Doesn’t matter if it’s a boy or a girl; It’s just your baby.
Delivery of a baby is just not about the mother. Father, if not equal, is at least an important part of the process. If you cannot be gentle with your wife during this period, then you are not a gentleman.
By the way, it’s a girl and we named her Mysha. She is 10 months now and the most beautiful thing.
I know. Of course, except my wife.