Birthing with my heart Empowering, connected, and amazing is how I’d describe the experience I had delivering the most precious little person lying on my chest fast asleep while I type my birth story on my phone. My birth was far from what I had imagined – yet the whole experience was utterly amazing. I thought I was planning for something calm but instead it was powerful, intense, and very loud! When I became pregnant, I was just 23-year-old, just as nervous about giving birth as the next mom-to-be. I didn’t stand firmly in either the natural birth or the epidural camp. My excitement really didn’t give me enough space to think and analyze the whole process well in advance. I didn’t know what I was up against, so how could I commit to one way or the other? As I thought about it, I realized that my highest priority was to have the safest birth possible. It seemed so illogical to avoid drugs (even over-the-counter ones) during pregnancy as of what my society around me had made me up of. And frankly, I didn’t trust a stranger, no matter how educated, to be my mid-wife, having told that of my consumption of ideas on labor. But if the pain was as unbearable as everyone said, how could I make it through labor without drugs? And that was strong and loud deep inside always.Initially, we moved 150 km away from home to be at one of the leading and foremost centers for pregnancy. There was detailed attention from the doctors and periodically checkups were all fine except the fact that we were always kept in dark as on how my labor is expected. Though I was fit and had no complications, slowly my visits made me feel like a patient. Meanwhile having all my iron and calcium pills regularly, I made every effort to make sure that I am fit to have my baby on normal delivery. I was adamant and determined on my routine on exercise and diet but the medical atmosphere and lack of knowledge on what to do or to expect really didn’t help on my progress psychologically. The health care facility made sure that I understand that normal delivery is more of my fortune rather than the commitment that the hospital and we both may have. The end of my seven months was when all my anticipation turned to be my anxiety while my fortitude and audacity turned to muddle. Now more concerns were on way on my own safety as well as of the baby. Equally, all the online information I was surfing made me go even more fanatical and alarmed. That’s when I came to know about Birth Village and I and my husband did travel all the way to Cochin to study the atmosphere and to know how well the midwife is at the center. On our first visit, we had as few as a thousand questions to ask, where we were truly mesmerized by our midwife’s depth of knowledge and experience on labor and her answers gave me light to my confidence and excitement. We were shocked and surprised to know how far we were ambiguous at our earlier health care provider. Though our visit was very useful we were still in a state of confusion to choose as we were bound to convince the family of our idea. With all that, my husband made every effort to contact some of the parents who were at birth village earlier and he made a couple of trips to Cochin on his own to meet them in person. After all that we were completely confident in our decision that we didn’t even bother convincing others. We arrived at Cochin first day of my 36th week and from there was the travel to heaven really was. A few days later, we gathered with five other couples for our two-hour class. There was a lot of ground to cover, and with our first quiz, I discovered how little I knew about biology and childbirth. Honestly, I realized that I knew only 10% on my whole 36 weeks term. Through class discussion, we learned new terms as well as every detail about what to expect during labor. It truly amazed me how so many body parts worked instinctively and in unison to deliver the baby. With each new thing I learned, I gained confidence that I could deliver our baby naturally. Now my view on childbirth was taken to a whole new level where excitement and happiness were the only few I had on my mind. We had no fright of any sort as we were complete on information on what to expect throughout, where my husband realized his commitment was from 2% to 200 now. Toward the end of our class, we worked on our birth plan. We knew we could not control every aspect of birth, but Birthvillage made sure that they understood what was most important to us. Assuming we would have a normal birth, we outlined our priorities: We were assured to be together during labor and delivery; freedom to move around; assurance that there will be no attempt to induce or augment labor; no routine internal exams; and no electronic fetal monitoring, an IV, or an episiotomy. And these were the highest priorities of Birthvillage too. We’d done everything we could to prepare; now we had to wait and see what nature had in store for us. As my due date got closer, my pre-labor jitters got worse. I even read up on some drug options and their side effects, just in case I needed them. But I was assured by my birth team. I could handle labor pains and that he would be there for me. Through all her conversation she made me mentally prepared and made me feel very confident about what I am up to do. On the due date, 31St of December 2015, we started receiving calls from our relatives asking if I had delivered. But I hadn’t….. Our midwives just asked us to relax and enjoy new Year’s eve. We decided to give our baby time ……… On 2nd Jan, when we were on the way to lulu mall that I felt the first contraction. I wasn’t so sure whether it was a contraction in the first place. I got mild contractions which were around four minutes apart but still very manageable We were asked to stay at home and get to the center when contractions got intense. On 3rd Jan, the contractions slowed down. Tried hot packs and cold packs, I continued walking, took stairs to my home which was on the twelfth floor, went to lulu mall. . Walked around. . The I felt intense contractions on third Jan night and we were asked to come to the center. My cervix had dilated 6cms. I was actually happy that am gonna meet the baby soon. . I kept walking, keeping myself hydrated, did lunges but then I got tired because of the two consecutive sleepless nights. .we got back home to rest for a while as the pace of the contractions seemed to slow down plus a change/rest and further walks would help me even better By evening my contractions came back again and we went back to the center. My birth team was ready steady for me….. My cervix had now dilated to 8 cms In few minutes, I decided to enter the pool. . The pain was intense, and more than the pain there was an excitement that I am going to meet my baby soon. . I just surrendered completely to my midwife’s suggestions and let myself go… Just feel the pain. . She said “This pain is good that it is taking you one step closer to the baby. .(I can truly never forget the impact of these words at that time ) I embraced the pain. . Went with the contractions. . I started pushing the baby out when I felt like I wanna do. . Nobody insisted to do so. . She made me listen to what the body said. At last, my princess arrived . . It was magical. . Was on top of the world. No words could explain how I felt at that moment. I settled down with my baby, was fed ..while my husband who was my rock was giving my baby skin to skincare…(These are priceless moments that I will always cherish till the very end of time. It was totally worth every step of the way the hardship of moving from Palani to cochin and the birthplace of my child will always have a special place in my heart……. My final pointers It took me a long time to move from early labor to active labor and further an additional twelve hours to move just 2 cms Labor takes time and patience you need evidence-based birth education and a solid team to back you up… I had complete confidence in my birth team not once did I let go or have doubts. Both of us were very committed till the end I had so many questions as to how I would handle pain, and I realized at the end of it there is no point in trying to look for ways to manage pain rather the key lies in gearing up and facing it rather than trying to run away from it and if one is truly supported by people they trust there is nothing to fear!! Wishing all the mothers to be an awesome birthing experience no matter whatever be the outcome!! Love Sri Varshini and Ram

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