Recently, in the circle of my friends and family, a few are either pregnant or have just given birth to babies. There’s so much excitement about the new babies and babies who are waiting to come out. We had just visited Pavan’s cousin’s last week. They had a baby girl a month ago. Her name is Aarnavi. It had felt so good holding the baby…OMG!!
As I held the baby, I was surrounded by my kids..and all of them wanted a share in carrying her around like she was a doll. When my triplets were born, my sister’s daughter, Isha, was about 9-10 month old, she was the one who used to treat the triplets like her baby dolls. Then, when Richa was born, the triplets joined that club, of wanting real living baby dolls. Now Richa too has joined this club.
We had taken all the stuff that I had collected over the years for the triplets and Richa to give it to them to use for their little baby. Things that I didnt’ think I could part with, things that I had put a lot of thought and effort in choosing, hope they will be able to smell the love in them.
Looking at this baby and the excitement in the family, reminded me of my own pregnancy. It reminded me of all the struggles in the pregnancy that my friend and co-sis must be going through right now. Reminded me of the state of body and mind, of the new mom, those sleep deprived nights, that another co-sister of mine, is going through right now. This blog’s idea is what followed. I also realized, that I haven’t recorded my pregnancy woes and how I had brought up my triplets, their first year either. This was an opportunity.
Maybe my experiences, although not normal, could help the “new moms” and “mom’s to be”. Maybe, the “new dad’s” could understand the state of these “new moms” reading this blog, (not that there isn’t enough material on the web). I can understand the effort it takes on the Dad’s part, in this situation, trying to bear with a women who has suddenly turned into a different being, but, nothing compares to what the women goes through to have the baby and what follows after that.
Maybe I’m biased, maybe because, men don’t keep those babies in their tummies for 40 weeks and they don’t have to bear the brunt of these pregnancies on their bodies, that they could keep their firm abs and still be a Dad, that their hormones don’t take the hit. Physically and mentally, there’s a lot that is happening to the Mom and no amount of support feels less to a women giving birth. I was fortunate that my husband understood some of this and took care of me when I needed it. And, if he failed during the first, he did make up for it during the second pregnancy.
It had taken all of 16 weeks of morning sickness to deal with. I wasn’t able to eat anything. Not that I puked my way through those weeks, but, I always felt like I would. “This would be it”, I had always felt.
At 20 weeks of my pregnancy, I looked almost full term. It was also around this time, that I started to feel hungry too. That was the week I was asked to take off from work to get on bed rest by the doctors. My belly had grown so big that I couldn’t stand at the kitchen counter. If I had to reach for the faucet or a vessel on the stove I had to bend forward awkwardly, that my back hurt and belly hurt getting bumped against the counter constantly. The weight from the belly downwards felt so enormous. The only movements I made, were towards the kitchen downstairs, the bathroom and to the doctors office. Even, the trips to the kitchen became less as I continued to grow.
Pavan would make sure that I had my food for the day around me, and I made sure, I had my food for thought for the day around me. I also spent a lot of time watching the episodes on TV of couples having multiples. I would cry with them, I would worry with them, I almost gave birth to their babies.
Hobbes made sure he troubled me enough for the day too. He would stand at the window beside my bed and bark at the squirrels outside, THE WHOLE DAY!!. He didn’t get tired barking. That little 7 pound thing..so much energy! (If I only could show half that determination at fitness) All my attempts at getting him to be quite didn’t matter. He just knew,
“This fat ass is not going to move, and even if she does, I can easily get away”, he had thought.
Since I couldn’t eat much being a vegetarian, the nutritionist called almost every other day, to suggest what food I could eat which had the highest concentration of protein even if I detested it.
This was my first pregnancy and we didn’t know any better. In the quest to get the best nutrition into me, Pavan would try out weird combinations of food. SO WEIRD! I don’t even know what he used. All I can remember of the pregnancy is the craving for decent tasty Indian homemade food, but no tasty food around!. There were a few times that I went ahead and made Rajma(Kidney Beans) and Maa Ki Daal (black gram) and those were the only times I enjoyed having food.
I remember, once Pavan had made Upma with cottage cheese. He was trying to get as many grams of protein into that meal of mine, and he had thought that I wouldn’t be able to figure it out. That, I would mistake it for Dahi. That was the last straw…I had gotten so mad on that day..I had shouted so much, I had cried, I had bawled that I felt my head reel. Poor thing, he didn’t care the food didn’t taste good, as long as it had the protein content.
There was another thing peculiar about Pavan. He used to evade touching my belly, or touch lightly or take his hand away like the baby would just pop out of the belly and bite him with its toothless jaws. Maybe it scared him, maybe that whole big stretched belly looked too disgusting, I’m really not sure.. I had wanted to show him the babies moving and would force his hand on my belly but, instead of feeling that moment with him, all I could feel was, his urge to pull away his hand. His version, that he was very scared of hurting me…Maybe that’s why I insisted on this photograph of him touching my belly. Trust me, his hand is as light as it could be, so I don’t feel it. Like my skin could feel anything, being so stretched!!
How can I forget that contraction monitoring exercise that I had to do everyday! Those bands have caused as much damage to my skin as much as the pregnancy itself to my body.
Yeah! not very good memories from my first pregnancy. But, by the time my parents arrived at around 29-30 weeks, I was totally stretched. There was no room for the tummy to grow (Amazing, to see how everything stretches). Well, atleast it appeared so!
And this was the only dress that fit and looked good for picture time. No wonder all the pics are in the same dress! That was my seat and bed for almost 2 weeks before I had to be taken to the hospital.
Soon, that innocent cold and cough took over me. Every cough and sneeze felt like my belly is going to tear open. And I wasn’t able to lie down. Lying on my back was out of question. If I lay to my sides..I could feel the babies sliding towards each other..that feeling itself was enough to make me sit up immediately..
I almost had a balloon about 3-4 times the size of the biggest pumpkin, in front of my belly. The way I managed the doctor visits was carry my belly around with my hands. No cough suspension was able to help me..not sudafed, not benedryl, not anything. The doctors advised most OTC..and when nothing worked, I was brought to the hospital since my contractions had increased with this cough. A blood test revealed that my platelet count had gone down. My body would not be able to stop bleeding during the surgery, if it continued to go down anymore. At that time,I was just about to step into the 31st week.
I had been hoping to go at least up till 33 weeks. I had begged the docs, to wait, not that, it influenced their decision. But, they decided to keep me in the hospital. I was monitored with 4 painful bands, 24x7,..3 to monitor the babies heart beats and another one to monitor the contractions. This made it so difficult to go to the bathroom. Bed pan was out of question. No way would anybody make me do that. That dried up tons of gel on my belly to help move those monitoring bands, since my babies kept shifting their positions. Oh!! shear torture!! That week in the hospital, Still, not for a moment, I felt like I want the babies out. The docs, had taken the first step to the delivery. They gave me some kind of a steroid shot to help the babies lungs.
Then, when I was about a day from completing the 32 weeks..The doc’s at the hospital gave that ultimate signal. There was no waiting anymore. They had to get the babies out, that day! So, we went into surgery and some time later, baby 1 and 2 came out crying. I could hear their cries. Then about a minute later, I heard baby 3’s cries. They were soon wheeled away by their doctors to the NICU. But, before they left they kissed me. I still have that feel of their skin against mine, so fragile and so soft. I guess, that is one memory that’s going to be engraved in my mind, my body, my soul forever. No number of years is going to fade or erase that.
Suddenly, within a minute, I had become a Mom, Mom to 3 babies…An instant increase in the size of my family. It more than doubled in a minute. The next day..when the nurse called me the “Mom” , or my husband “Dad”, it took us a few moment to recognize, that was us!, ..”Oh! we were parents, right!”…I remember, Pavan was reading a book, and the nurse called out “Dad” to him, and he didn’t even turn.
My body had started to swell, with so much extra fluid. The babies were out, but the extra volume of blood was still there. My body weight had gone from about 120+ pounds(pre pregnancy) to I don’t know what. I know that I had reached 160+ pounds with Richa’s delivery itself.
I was not to see my babies for the next 2 days, since I wasn’t able to stand. All the muscles in my body had vanished. And with that extra volume of blood, that was collecting in my body, my feet had swollen and the skin was getting tighter by the minute. I wasn’t able to pee and every moment was spent in anguish waiting for the milk to start coming. I was worrying about latching, about being able to feed my babies, about the pain that I was experiencing, about that BIG HARD POT that was my tummy now. It reminded me of those drinking water pots in India.
I knew that they had already started feeding my babies in the NICU. On trying and trying so hard, I was able to remove a few drops of milk and I knew those initial drops were very important for my babies, for their immune system, but, it never reached them. They were enough to just wet the bottle, which I had to send to the NICU.
All those moms who get to put their babies to their breasts as soon as the baby is born…I wasn’t among them. My babies were being fed from a syringe that went into a pipe that ran from their noses to their tummy and they were being fed formula, not to mention all the injury these pipes cause inside… until they will be able to suck the milk from their mouth, until I will be able to provide my milk for 3 babies,.. They were pre-mature babies. 2 months pre-mature put up in the NICU where they would stay for sometime. They weighed between 3 pounds and a little less than 2 pounds. Yeah! that was Baby 3’s weight a day of after her birth, a little less than 2 pounds!
(To Be Continued)…