My Pregnancy and My Delivery Stories are as Opposite to Each Other as Day and Night

As smooth, relaxed and happy my pregnancy was, my delivery turned out to be just as stressful, traumatic and life-threatening.

My labour started at about 4 AM on a Tuesday morning. I reached the hospital with almost 3cm dilatation and the doctor was quite happy and confident of my natural (vaginal) birth progress at that point.

Since, I was very keen on having a natural birth, I had been regularly exercising from the beginning and followed all the recommendations to the T, through my pregnancy. I had also requested a doula to assist me during the labouring process.

Nikita Panchal, from my prenatal class – P101, agreed to be my doula and I will forever be glad and grateful for that decision of ours.

Through the day Nikita made me do more than a 100 squats in between my contractions, convinced and helped me take a nice warm shower during labour to soothe the muscles and relieve the pain and also monitored the liquids and solids that I took. The most helpful was the positions she showed me to get into when a contraction hit because I would have given up mid-way had I endured the contraction pain lying down. It’s the worst when you are lying straight on the bed.

After about 15hrs of labour and bearing increasingly strong contractions, the baby had still not descended as much as it should have and my gynecologist after having been extremely patient with my requests to wait a little longer, eventually at 7pm told me that ‘something is not right if the baby has still not descended’. And so, she needed us to proceed with an emergency c-section!

Just as we were prepping for this unexpected turn of events, my mandatory COVID test (that was taken in the morning) report came back as positive!

Knowing which, the hospital refused to let me get operated on, in their premises, despite having previously told us that they would let the delivery happen with full covid protection in place, if a pregnant lady tested positive last minute, expressly stating that they cannot turn down a woman in labour. Ironically, they did not even refer us to another hospital nor did they arrange an ambulance for us.

So, we were suddenly left to fend for ourselves and find an OT in a hospital that handled COVID cases, while I was having a contraction every 5-7 minutes!

Thankfully, my gynecologist did not abandon me and looked for a hospital along with my family for the next 2 hours, that would provide an OT, to operate on a covid positive pregnant lady (me).

Finally, after being ferried to another hospital by the ‘father-to-be’ in our own car and enduring excruciating pain of contractions every 3-4 mins, I was operated upon, in a dingy OT at 10.30 PM, with no family close to me. Since it was a covid hospital, they did not let any relative stay with me and till two days after a major abdominal surgery (cesarean) I was absolutely alone in the hospital.

Needless to say, the baby did not room-in with me. In fact, I wasn’t even allowed to touch my baby after delivery since I tested positive and could risk infecting him. The pediatrician suggested that Neev be sent to a Neonatal unit in some other hospital for the next 15 days, till I recover from COVID.

At a time like this, when everything seemed like it was falling apart and I was lying on the operation table getting sutured, I somehow could find it in me to fight with my pediatrician and emphasize that my baby not be sent to a Neonatal unit in a random hospital, where no family would be allowed to even hold him for days together and that he will also not be given formula as feed (personal choice).

But it seems sedated women are rarely heard, even if conscious ones are.

Luckily for me, I had Nikita as my doula.

The very moment, we were told that I will have to undergo a cesarean, Nikunj and I told Nikita that she is free to go home since it was late and I was not to have a natural birth afterall. But she chose to stay with us and wait with my family in the parking lot of the new hospital while I got operated upon.

And while I fought with my pediatrician on the surgery table, my doula Nikita gave Nikunj and Ma the confidence that they will be able to care for the baby at home since he is healthy, and that sending him to a Neonatal Unit for so many days will rob him of the warmth and care that he would get at home, even if I am not there.

She also arranged for donor breast milk from other P101 moms, so that Neev could receive breast milk and did not have to be put on formula.

Thanks to her resolve and dedication for my baby, he was brought home that very day and received skin-to-skin from his Dad and happily, (I am told even without crying once), stayed with Nikunj and Ma till I got home.

The next day, I got three COVID tests done, and all indicated negative! The previous test was a false positive. Due to this revelation, I was able to go home after the 2 days prescribed to a post-surgery patient, instead of the standard 14 days required by a COVID patient.

I was able to meet Neev and with Nikita’s support and guidance was able to start breastfeeding him within the next two days. And today, I complete five months of exclusively breastfeeding Neev.

I am sharing this story, because I believe sharing stories of distress are as important as those of joy.

I am sharing it now, because recounting the horrid-ness of it all and putting it in words has not been the easiest.

I exercised, ate right, worked hard on keeping my sugar, thyroid and weight in check and did everything else as advised throughout my pregnancy, so that I could have a natural delivery

Yet, I did not

I went nowhere through the pandemic, went crazy lady on all family members and friends to wear masks and distance throughout my pregnancy, so that I did not expose me and my baby to covid

Yet, I delivered in a Covid Hospital and shared a Covid floor postpartum for the two days that I was hospitalized

I read everything about breastfeeding, discussed in advance with my gynecologist that I will give skin-to-skin to the baby immediately post birth, so that my lactation is facilitated

Yet, neither the skin-to-skin nor my lactation could happen immediately

Distress and disappointment for all is felt.

But, I have chosen to be grateful and full of gratitude for having a healthy baby, eventually being able to breastfeed and being able to recover well from my surgery.

And for having Nikita by my side to make things look up when no one else could have.

Learn more about pregnancy, baby care & breastfeed related information and pregnancy classes visit our website Rita’s Pregnancy 101.

Nikita Panchal

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