On the 30th of July, just 4 days before I celebrated my third wedding anniversary, I woke up at 5:50AM in the morning to pee on a stick- scratch that- to pee on three sticks. At 5:54AM, my timer rang to alert me that it had been long enough to check the pregnancy tests.
I stared at the test sticks, of which one had two distinct red lines, one had a faint red line and a distinct dark one, and one which had only one clear red line. The anxiety of uncertainty took over, and I grabbed two more test sticks just to be sure.
At 6:01AM, I was sure I was pregnant. It didn’t feel real at all, even though I had frantically prayed every single day for the last month to conceive. I took a long and deep breath, and woke up my husband, who was in a deep, sound slumber. For a moment, he was blank, until it hit him that he was going to be a father! For a few seconds, we just held each other, filled with emotion, gratitude, love, and an unexplainable anticipation of the next 9 months!
Fast forward to 19th March 2019, when my exceptionally talented ObGyn Dr Nina Mansukhani asked me to get admitted to Jehangir Hospital to induce my labour. I still had 10 days left to complete my 40 week pregnancy, but I was extremely exhausted, restless, and I was sure I only wanted Dr Nina to be the one to deliver my baby.
My labour of love began at 5:30pm, when I was injected with a labour inducing medication. I kept waiting for the “real pain” to start, but once it began, there was no return. Dr Nina and I had already decided that I would not be able to deliver without an epidural, but I wanted to be strong and wanted to hold off till the pain became truly unbearable.
Labour pains felt like waves.. they came, swept me under, and passed. And then they came back again to take me in some more. The clock ticked on with an excruciating slow pace, while my mother and my husband held my hand, and gave me the strength to get through this. I shivered, my teeth chattered, my body and it’s pain felt foreign to me.
Almost eleven hours later, at 3:30am, I finally gave up. I begged and cried and pleaded to be cut open so I could finally be free of this pain, but I’m so glad the talented team of doctors didn’t give in. Nina ma’am was paged immediately, and the resident doctor confirmed that I was finally 9 cms dilated!
I didn’t know whether I was more scared now, or more relieved that it would be over soon…
In a moment, the entire room was transformed into a delivery room setup, with nurses, doctors, and a tray of tools I couldn’t look at. Gloves were put on, scrubs were donned, and even in the middle of the night, the doctors put on their most determined faces with energy and conviction.
For what felt like hours, I kept trying to push. I think I felt like I couldn’t even breathe at one point. There were moments when my body didn’t even feel like my own. I felt like an observer witnessing a woman giving birth.. It was perhaps the most surreal and out-of-body experience one can ever be encounter.
I could hear the doctors say that the baby has begun to crown and were ready to deliver. As if on cue, the door opened, and a fierce ball of energy-Dr Nina Mansukhani- walked in ready to do what she does best- bring life into this world. Amidst the loud instructions given by her to her doctors, the motivation of the team to “Push harder”, and the whirring of a vacuum pump not in the mood to work, I felt faint, nauseous and half-dead.
For a second, I felt I might die.
I didn’t though.
A powerful wave of pain seemed to be arriving, and the doctors waited for me to gather my strength. I prayed, and took a long, deep, powerful breath, and with all my heart and physical stamina, I pushed as hard as I could.
My baby was ready, and so was I.
At 4:30am on 20th March 2019, Dr Nina pulled out a crying baby, and swung her up, and announced, “It’s a girl!”. In life, even if I may forget everything I’ve ever seen, that is that one moment that will be etched in her heart forever.
My husband had collapsed on the chair beside me, holding his face in his hands, shedding uncontrollable tears of fear and happiness. He looked at me and smiled through the tears, and whispered, “you did it!”, and all I could manage was “Never again!”
Seconds later, Nina ma’am came to me, kissed my head, and told me that she had known I would be able to do this. It was perhaps that faith she had in me, and that I had in her, that made it all possible.
This was my Labour of Love, and today as I hold my darling daughter in my arms, I can’t believe that someone so scared of pain was able to deliver normally.
Pritika Parwani (Khushboo Chawla)
University of Sheffield (2013-2015)
Boston University (2009-2013)
United World College of South East Asia (2007-2009)