Baby, It’s All or Nothing now!

Part 1:
An open & no holds barred account from a mum who has a powerful story to narrate.

Watch out for Part 2, the husband’s version tomorrow

I have read loads and loads of BV birth stories in the past (and regularly do so, to this day) and each time I had read one, I wanted one such story for myself and today as I sit to write mine, it is a dream come true!

S and me have taken a long journey to reach here today. We have been married for 7 years and somewhere around 4 years into our marriage we reached a point where both of us were ready to have a child. This part of our story has to be shared because it is a story of many but only a few talk about it. But, we realize the need to talk about it because we as a community and society have to normalize so much of this and not be ashamed about it so that more and more people can feel supported in their journeys. S and me had a tough time conceiving and like most couples we never thought it would be this tough when we started. It started with trying naturally then we moved on to partially assisted ways (hormones and follicular scans) followed by procedures I got done to check for structural issues. Finally we attempted IUI procedures, 3 of them and all failed after which we were suggested either one more cycle of IUI or IVF.

Emotionally and psychologically there were many bad days and good days and it was a journey full of challenges. Many days and nights of questioning myself, if and where I had gone wrong, why me and maybe this isn’t meant to be. S had his own phases of helplessness as he saw me go through so many tests and procedures and felt that could do nothing much to share the load. He stood by me like a rock and always would repeat to me in those moments of weakness, stress and tears that we will stop it all if it was affecting me, that my health and sanity was the most important. Those words always pushed me ahead. Also, from the beginning we had decided not to talk about this process in detail to our immediate family (his parents and mine) as it would only worry them and it would get very difficult for us to help them with their stress when we were ourselves stressed. I don’t know if that was the ‘right’ thing to do but I do think it worked for us.

Cut to May 2017, after 2 and half years of failed attempts and disappointments, we were rewarded. I hadn’t again told anyone, even S that I had missed my period. I gave it a good 10 days for even the home pregnancy test. Never had I expected that two pink vertical lines could bring as much joy to us as on that day. And it happened when we least expected it and had reached a point where we were ok with having or not having a child and were taking a long break from all the medical assistance. May be that is what worked for us. The blood test and scans were conclusive and a healthy pregnancy was confirmed. The next step was to find a good healthcare provider and I had always been very keen on a normal delivery. I was very hell bent on finding a healthcare provider who would support me completely in this, give me the necessary guidance and not be in a hurry to find the first pretext for a c-section. My first trimester passed by in a blink of an eye… the pregnancy was progressing quite well, without any complications. I had started to google healthcare provider, read reviews, find references through known people. During one of my trysts with google some years back I had come across Birth India, an NGO which worked towards creating awareness about natural birthing and evidence based practices in birth. I had come across BirthVillage on their website and it had piqued my interest at that point itself. I found myself searching the same again… once I found them again, I started to read about them in detail, read the birth stories, read about evidence based practices and the alarming state of affairs in India and many parts of the world, when it came to birthing. Now, suddenly in my 4th month Anomaly scan, the sonologist found something they call an Echogenic intracardiac focus, which is basically calcium deposits in the heart. This hastened my search for healthcare providers and we consulted three of them in a short time (i would joke that I am going healthcare provider shopping to my friends!). All of the healthcare providers were of the opinion that this was seen in most pregnancies and was nothing to worry but two of them did suggest we could get a fetal echocardiogram done to check conclusively, if we wished so. The third healthcare provider very conclusively said that it was nothing and we shouldn’t think about it at all. But we were still confused as to whether do the fetal echo or not. This also made me finally hasten the process to consult at BirthVillage. When I had first talked to S about BirthVillage, he was intrigued but the practicality of it all was his concern – how would we get back a newborn 15 to 20 day old infant back to Mumbai and won’t it be a risk? This remained a worry for him and was his also his first question to the midwife in the birthing class in Kochi much later. However he was curious and trusted my judgement enough to agree for the Skype consult with the midwife. I was super excited and had a list of questions ready for her and I cannot say this enough, but that consultation was the most extensive and honest consultation I had ever had with a birthing care provider.

She answered every question of ours patiently and confidently and would never tire asking if we had more questions. She put all our worries of the various tests and scans to complete rest and it was all completely matter of fact and crystal clear. When speaking about the fetal echo, she asked us a pertinent question – what we would like to do with that report… In the scenario that the report shows something to worry about, then would we want to discontinue the pregnancy. S and me in unison said a clear no… We would go ahead with it any way. So there was our answer, we didn’t need to do any test. We then spoke about all the reasons healthcare providers usually suggest inducing or c-sections and the ways that the same would be handled at BV… I could feel all my dreams coming true… the same intuitive feeling of things fitting in, of finding a soul mate or finding that one friend who you just know will be a friend for life. S was impressed and quite convinced about the quality of care they would provide but the practicality of it all still remained his issue. I was always 100% there and this consultation just strengthened that belief… for me, I now just had to figure out the logistics of it all. But it was not to be all that easy and the decision to go to Kochi wasn’t taken until much much later.

S and me discussed it over and over again over the course of the next couple of months. My parents in law were skeptical about the place mostly because they thought that BirthVillage was a far flung village on the outskirts of Kochi, away from all civilization. Also, the very obvious question about why go away from a city like Mumbai, where you would get the ‘best’ care and after all normal deliveries happen even now… the issue was that no one in our universe had ever thought about or gone for this kind of a birthing ever, thus the concern and skepticism was very expected. Once explained that it was just a birthing centre, right in the middle of Kochi city, with quality medical care available if there was a need for it, they seemed a little more comfortable with it. When I spoke about it to my parents and explained the concept their only question was, when do we need to get to Kochi. Even if they had their doubts about it or even concerns, they never voiced it, they just said that we are with you to support you in any way that you need us.

So now the journey was mine… I had given it all so much thought that I seemed to have almost sidelined my intuitive voice. I started thinking about the logistical burden I would be placing on my parents, on S, and then a voice said, is there really need for all this? You have found a decent healthcare provider here, and everyone you know has given birth in these normal circumstances, why are you making a big deal out of this… why put everyone through so much for such a whim. In those moments of doubt, without even realizing it, I had reduced my deepest wish to just a whim and that is a mistake most women (even men, but more so women) tend to make. We tend to reduce our deepest wishes and passions to just a whim and give up on them, settle for something less and in that we do deep disservice to our souls. And then some conversations with the most unlikeliest people just happened (almost as if my inner being led me to them) and I realized that I had to trust myself and that this was going to be moment of a lifetime, my first birth will always be my first birth and therefore this was very very very very very important to me (not just ‘very important’) and I had to had to put myself first here. As someone said to me “unleash your cave woman instincts” and when I did, it just lead me to my decision.
We finally registered at BV at the beginning of my third trimester and were in fact very lucky to get a spot for my January birthing (they register a limited number a month) considering it was relatively last minute. My 33rd week scan, the last before we left for Kochi, showed two loops of cord around my bub but then again, when consulted with the midwife,she was not worried about it, and her confidence was surely infectious.

My mum and me landed in Kochi on the 18th of December, 2017, a month before my due date (which was 16th Jan, 2018, incidentally my birthday!). We had rented a small 1 bhk serviced apartment for the duration and we set out to make it home. I had my first exercise class the next day itself and that was the first time i met the midwife who did the workouts!!! All those who have ever met her and have gone to her exercise classes would know how awesome she is and what happiness it is to get to know her! And that exercise class… oh man… the most intense workout I had ever done during my pregnancy and that too for two full hours! The next day was our first appointment at the BirthVillage.

The BirthVillage I had read about for months, the BirthVillage I had seen pictures of!! I was so excited to be there at last!!! The centre is on a narrow, quiet lane and housed in a large bungalow… a calm, inviting and warm environment for a birthing centre, so much better than I had ever imagined. We were ushered into a lovely waiting area by a smiling Ginju (the administrative staff who mediates all the appointments). A beautifully decorated Xmas tree, a lit brass lamp and Xmas tunes in the background were setting the tone for Christmas. Pictures of little ones and families who had birthed there, their messages and a notice board full of motivational quotes and other positive information on birthing was all so inspiring and reassuring. I was soon called in for my appointment, (a shorter wait than any Doctor’s appointment I had been for) and climbed up those lovely marble steps (one way the BV team assures that pregnant girls climb at least a few stairs once a week 😉 ) and entered one of the most beautiful birthing rooms ever (every nook and cranny of which is going to be etched in my memory forever). I met my midwife again… And I can’t say this enough but this should be the kind of experience every girl has with their birthing caregiver… She looked at my history, we spoke about the kind of birthing I wanted, she spoke to the bub inside of me during the palpation and welcomed him to Kochi 🙂 It felt like I was talking to a friend, who just happened to be an expert on natural birthing. It was a happy happy appointment and I was more than reassured that I was in good, safe and trustworthy hands! I couldn’t have asked for more!

My mum and me gradually got into a lovely routine… My mum took complete responsibility of making me eat and drink the healthiest food and drinks! From mixed fruit and vegetable juice, salads, lots of coconut water, yummy veggies and greens to the innocent yet most healthy Idli and Dosas, were all prepared in a tiny kitchen with a minimum number of utensils provided. Apart from eating heartily (which contributed greatly to my superb health by the time I birthed) we attended all the exercise classes (until the day before I started my contractions), went for walks, did lots of grocery shopping, watched movies, took noon siestas and lived the good life! In lieu of the strict instructions to me at BV about climbing stairs, we went to marine drive, lulu mall and large stores and I would attract a lot of stares while climbing up and down the stairs with the pregnant belly of mine! Two weeks into our stay, one scan and two checkups down we got to know that Bubbles (the nickname for our little one) had an engaged head and was in the optimum position for birth. That was a great sign that all the activity was working and mum and me were happy! The same weekend we had our two day lamaze class and since S hadn’t come yet, mum joined me for the sessions. The sessions covered a wide variety of topics related to birthing – from nutrition, natural birthing practices, medical interventions, labor, measures for comfort during labor, breastfeeding and Infant care – and it was as comprehensive as it could be. This is when we met my other midwife for the first time and she was exactly the same as she had sounded on the skype appointments. Her experience showed in the confident and clear way she communicated and answered the questions. But what I appreciated the most was that she urged us to think and question everything she told us – a quality rare to most birth care providers. It showed her confidence in her training and truly helped me trust her completely. The sessions on natural birth practices and medical interventions were an eye opener and mum and me realized how little we knew and due to which how easily we scare. There is a language of deep fear attached to birthing which stems mostly from not knowing enough and knowing all the wrong things and only one mainstream perspective. At the end of two days my mother herself shared that there was so much that she hadn’t known (and had she known, she would have chose differently during her birthings) and that she was now completely convinced that I had made a right choice to come here. I saw that as a mini victory for me and my family – just to open them up to an experience that they might have had their fears about was joyous for me. 🙂

In my third appointment, roughly 1 and half weeks prior to my due date, the midwife came in for the checkup. She knew everything about my checkups and reports until then. She did the usual, BP and weight check (all good!) and then said hi to the little one. Hearing the heart beats of Bubbles was so reassuring each time! It sure was like a train powering on! During the palpation this time, she seemed very happy with the position Bubbles had taken and really wondered aloud if the bub might just decide to come before dad comes! Now this was something S and me both didn’t want, so he flew in a few days earlier than planned. Also, we fixed up an express birthing class for him which was taken by Donna. This is when he asked the question about flying back with the baby and Donna pointed out that he had skipped the process of labour and directly jumped to the end! Once reassured that the bub will be ok flying back, we got around to the more pertinent aspects of the birthing class :D. He was quickly prepped on how labour progresses, what all to expect, his role in the process and most importantly we practiced the comfort measures he could help me with during the surges.

At last it all felt like it was coming together… S being there and truly being a part of this experience gave me a different kind of confidence and happiness. Post the class, I requested the midwife, if she had the time, to finish the checkup then itself (which was scheduled for the next day) and she being the sweetest ever agreed with the only condition that S and me should go out and spend the next day doing fun things! So we did… We went around Fort Kochi, sightseeing the next day and it sure was a fun day! The week passed uneventful when it came to the bub but we weren’t worried as it was doing well according to the last check up. The bub now seemed to want to make all of us wait. We got a lot of time to spend together without the distraction of work and other routine things. S became a part of the routine mum and me used to follow. S also attended one of the workout classes and really was quite shocked to see the exercise routine for the group of pregnant girls!! By the end of that class he had worked out quite a sweat and to this day jokes that he felt dilated after those 2 hours.

It was a lovely two weeks and we were eagerly looking forward to when the bub would be ready for the world but it wasn’t showing any such signs. On the morning of 16th January, my birthday and the due date, S told me to get ready and pack a small bag, as he had booked us a small staycation. I love birthday surprises, have always loved them, and I was glad that the little bub hadn’t yet come… As childish as it sounds, I was never keen to share my birthday with it :). It was a special birthday, the last one before I was ‘mom’ to a little soul. We had a lovely time… S’s photography skills were made to great use and I got some lovely maternity shots clicked by him! During the next exercise class, when one of the girls asked me about my due date, it was strange telling her that it had already gone by! And so the wait prolonged…Bubbles just didn’t seem interested to come out, the good part being that it was doing well inside. Friends who would call up to check on me started to joke that I had made the pregnancy up just so I could have a lovely holiday and that it was just a pillow and not a baby! I was a full 40 weeks and more and I had now religiously been doing walks, 200+ stairs, plus lunges and squats, apart from the 2 hour sure-to-dilate workouts. I was keen on helping the bub out as much but apparently the little one just wasn’t interested. Around the same time we were introduced to Charlotte, a Doula from Denmark had come to intern at BV and Anna, a trainee Midwife who was also there at BV for a few weeks. On the 25th, of January, I got to BV for my scheduled checkup, where my midwife recommended that I get a biophysical scan just to make sure everything was OK with the little one. She also asked me to get some almond oil for her to make a concoction which I could massage my body with, to help relax and help secrete the necessary hormones. Charlotte approached me on that day and asked me if I would be interested in getting a Rebozo massage on the next day by her. I had read a bit about Rebozo sifting and was intrigued, plus, who doesn’t love a good massage so I said yes. Also, it would give us something to do the next day, which was always welcome as we were really running out of things to do.

So on the following day, 26th of Jan, India’s Republic day, S and me got to the centre. Charlotte was waiting for us with her magical Mexican woven scarf called the Rebozo and she gave me the best massage of my life. I could really feel all the muscles around my pelvis loosen and find the much needed relief. By the end of that session though I felt some discomfort, as if my bub was protesting to all the movement we had subjected it to. We got back home and the same night I started my surges!!! Charlotte and her Rebozo had seemingly done the needful.

As instructed I slept between and through the surges. Somewhere around 1 in the night I lost my mucus plug, I was so excited! I woke S up and told him to message the midwife and inform her. The surges were still irregular so my sleep was disrupted and finally around early morning I managed to get some sleep. My midwife messaged back saying that I had to rest, sleep and keep the energy levels up for the last phase. So I rested, ate, drank and breathed through the surges all day. It was an exciting day, we had waited for this day for so long and it was here… it wouldn’t be long before we meet the new member of our family! That same day, late evening S’s parents, my parents-in-law, flew in. Late that night, finally when the surges were intense and regular S spoke to the midwife and she asked us to leave for the centre in 15 mins. Even through the surges, I could sense the excitement building inside of me! We picked up the packed bags, got ready and the two mothers and the two of us got into a cab and reached the centre in no time. When we reached, my midwife was already there, all set up and ready, and greeted me with a smile. I climbed up those steps again, this time with a different kind of happiness… It was happening at last!! I got to the room and a surge hit me, and my midwife instructed me to stand holding the wall and sway my hips gently from right to left, and she applied a firm pressure on my lower back… Oh, what a relief it gave me! The surge passed and she offered to check to see how much i had dilated. In the background my mom and mom-in-law were struggling to light a lamp in front of a baby Krishna idol and S trying to hurry them up. It was a funny scene and it was strange that I could see the humor in it even at that time. Anyway, I did ask them to leave as we really had to get on with the most important job at hand! 😀

I was checked and I was 5 cms dilated! I was relieved that I was beyond 4 cms but later my midwife did tell us that ideally she would have sent us back but seeing that we had a house full of parents who seemed stressed, she let us labour at the centre that night :D! I was instructed to get as much sleep as possible between contractions. The midwife would come in from time to time to check on me. By this time Charlotte came and was beautifully helping me through the surges, with massages, hot water bags and getting water for me to sip on. I sure had to thank her for the many ways she had contributed to my birthing (I made a mental note)! They also made sure S could get some sleep so that he is more energetic later when it was needed the most. After a couple of hours, my midwife made me walk up and down the stairs, walk around the reception area downstairs and assume the standing and swaying position each time a surge came. Early in the morning she suggested that now would be a good time to shift to the water tub as we had chosen to labour in it and not birth in it. They got to preparing getting the tub ready and asked S to go home,relax, shower and get some breakfast for himself and me, so he left.

Once the pool was ready, I changed and got into it. I can still vividly remember how heavenly I felt as I slipped into the water. Each part of my body which had worked hard through the contractions, thanked me for the warmth of the water, easing out the muscles. The surge would take over and I would assume different poses, sometime squats sometimes on all fours with the support of the side rails, breathing through each of them. I think the surges had slowed down in the pool, as I would sleep soundly in between them. But I could feel that they were more intense than before when they came. The warmth of the water helped me immensely through each of them. We would have conversations in between and my midwife was quite amazed that I would and could go into deep sleep in between the surges and was almost nodding off into the water. I was joking that sleeping anywhere, any time was a superpower of mine! Again, who knew I would be having such conversations and joking around while in labour…sometimes even now i think maybe i imagined those conversations, because really who does that during labour. Labour was supposed to be a serious thing, no? Apparently, not! I didn’t know the passing of time, but somewhere in between I realised that it had been a while and S hadn’t come back, mostly because I felt hungry and also because I didn’t want him to miss this part of the labour. I had always wanted the water pool to play a part in my labour, one more tick off in my birthing wishes, so I wanted S to witness it and be a part of it too.

S came back all huffing and puffing and super worried, after 2 hours, to find me nicely relaxing in the pool. He was worried because he had slept off at home after having his breakfast and neither of the parents had woken him up and he almost thought that he would have missed the birth! Hahaha! We asked him to relax and breath! He then sat down and fed me my breakfast… again just the kind of tender loving care one would want while in labour :). I got out of the pool, changed and was again checked – I was 7 cms dilated. I searched her face for any indications of whether that was good or bad, I couldn’t make out anything… she said that it was good, checked for the bub’s heart rate and we heard it powering on as usual. All was well. Somewhere around that time my other midwife came in. Both my midwives tok stock of the situation and decided that it was now time for me to get super active and really move to get that baby down. I started to do more rigorous routines and poses – more up and down the stairs, squats with the help of the balustrades, lunges with S’s help, lots of walking and then the most memorable part of my labour.

My workout trainer midwife got out her laptop and speakers and put on some numbers from the exercise class and to my shock and surprise, started dancing and urging me to follow her! I started following her and Anna and Charlotte joined in, with my other midwife cheering us on. If someone had told me a few months back that I would be dancing during labour, i would have laughed at them… but on that day I WAS dancing and my midwife and birth support team were dancing with me. It was as if we were already celebrating the arrival of my little one. It was a celebration like no other. I did all the swaying, squatting, stepping, twisting and cake eating (one of the most famous steps amongst BV moms attending Donna’s class).

Some more stairs and drawing eights on the exercise ball later, Charlotte brought out her Rebozo and did her magic again with that beautiful woven scarf. She taught some moves to S with the Rebozo and I started to squat using the Rebozo and his help. I started to get a little tired at this point and in the pictures, look like a zombie. I was of course helped with copious amounts of water throughout by Anna and Charlotte at regular intervals. Soon we checked the dilation and I was at 9 cms… finally, I thought, we are talking business! It was the last cm to go… then just a short while later, I found my body wanting to push, it would take over for a few minutes, a crazy urge and then would subside.

I moved to the birthing rope but that didn’t work for me… I was getting tired… I could hear them, urging me, motivating me, guiding me through each push… I had to go with my body and not go against it, keep my push low and not get stuck at the chest. When the surge would pass, I would close my eyes, rest and breath until the next one took over. My midwife came to me with a small mug of something, I took a sip and it was strong black sweet coffee (BV’s special ‘pushing stage’ concoction). She asked me to drink it all up and I did. The next minute I had a strong reflux and I threw up all the coffee and simultaneously gushed out a litre full of water on the under pads under my feet. I looked up and they just were all super calm and my midwives were just checking if the pee was my water breaking. Man, I couldn’t have felt more accepted than this… no one even flinched… just another day of work? Nothing pretty about any of that. Oh yeah, by the way, my water bag hadn’t burst even at this point, it was just pee.

After I cleaned up we went right back to it… the surge would take over, I would push through it. Somewhere at this point Charlotte asked me to hold on to her and squat and as I did, there was this super strong push that went through my body, stronger than the earlier ones… I was making guttural sounds… as primal as I could ever be. I put all my weight on to Charlotte and I am sure she struggled to support me but she stood there like a rock through it. The pushes had gotten intense and were much closer together. The head was right there… my midiwves asked me to touch it, I touched with trepidation and could feel something akin to the top of the head… It was surreal, I still couldn’t believe it. But it worked, I knew I was close so I started to work at the pushes with renewed vigor. My water bag burst finally! We shifted to the birthing stool, with S supporting me from behind… I chose to squat on the floor while S sat on the birthing stool. I started to push again when the surge hit me but this time it started to burn as if my vagina and cervix were on fire. In fact I remember saying that out aloud “it’s burning” and they said empathising with me that yeah it would. Oh man… I thought I’ll tear apart at this point… I almost felt as if it’ll never work. But, I remembered the words I used to hear at the workout class (that she would make us repeat in each class) “Who is gonna push out your baby” and we had to say “I”. Then she would ask us “Is your husband/mother/midwife/mother-in-law gonna push it out?” and we would say “No”. So I realised at that point that I had to do this… there was no going back. I couldn’t have pushed the little one back in :). So it was decided, I had to do this. I would lean back on S’s shoulder in between the surges and take a breather and in a few moments the next surge would come in.

I knew I was doing better now…I was sweating copiously and there was always someone wiping my sweat, making me sip on water and whispering to me that I was doing well. Just then, another surge took over and I started pushing through it, with almost tears in my eyes and I heard my midwives saying yeah good, keep going, you are almost there and then in the next second my baby was there, in my midwife’s hands. I couldn’t believe it… S was shocked too… There was my lil bub, he had jumped out right into safe and trustworthy hands, she had caught him. After a cough, a sneeze and a cry, Bubbles blinked his eyes and tried to get things in focus. I kept staring at the little one with bewilderment. I had expected some more pushes to get the whole body out but this one wasn’t interested in any more drama and came right out.

S started whispering to me, “you did it, Bubbles is here.” I had Bubbles on my chest in no time and he was ready to latch and suckle with help from Donna. Then I birthed the placenta in the next 5 minutes or so, which came out quite silently. The tree of my baby’s life, had quietly done its job and had slipped quietly out without much ado. We gave the cord a few minutes to stop pulsating and S was asked to cut the cord which he did with a strange combination of trepidation and happiness. Bubbles was right there on my chest when they checked his vitals… I can never forget those eyes, that slippery skin with the vernix, the pinkness, that tiny body, suckling at my breasts, enveloped in my arms. And S was right there next to me holding the both of us.

Bubbles was then given to S for some skin to skin time. I was fed a bowl of green gram and rice as a recovery food for all the energy lost. Now was the actual tough part… my midwife was working at getting my stitches done but I suddenly started to feel a little dizzy and immediately my midiwife stood up on the bed with my legs straight up, rubbing my feet. All of them got around me doing different things to make sure I was ok. I was given chocolate to eat, given water, my BP was checked, the IV line was set up and through it all my midwives kept talking to me asking me how I was feeling constantly. I started to feel better with the IV and one of the midiwves started to do the stitches talking to me through it all. Bincy, the nurse on the team also came in for the post natal care. Once all of it was done and I was better, Bubbles came back to me and with some help we resumed the breastfeeding.

It took S and me quite a while to realize all that had happened and till date, there are moments when I can’t believe that we are parents to this beautiful bubba! I guess it takes a while. Our parents were called in late that evening to meet me and the little one for a short time and they were obviously thrilled!

We stayed at the centre that night and Bincy would keep coming in to check on me and the little one throughout the night. Next day after a lovely, warm, medicated bath from Chechi, and an awesome breakfast, I was completely refreshed. Bincy came in and took all the measurements of the little one and we also got to meet and thank our bub’s placenta. S got to dress our little one for the first time… it was a lovely morning! We were to be discharged that morning, but I was still a little weak so they asked us to stay a little longer until Donna came in and checked on me. So, we stayed back until lunch and I got to eat a BV approved nutritious spread prepared by Chechi specially to help me recover and feel better. In the meantime S had packed up everything and packed up our little bundle of joy. My other midwife came in, checked on me, she took Bubbles in her arms, a BV ritual – the midwife walks the bubba down, the bub that they helped birth, the bub that they caught in their warm, safe hands – we took some pictures to freeze that moment. We drove back… the two of us with our life-changing bundle of absolute joy!

Priyanka, thank you for founding Birthvillage… for giving women, here in India a chance and a choice to birth their inner goddesses in the process of birthing their babies. Thank you, for being firm, patient and kind. Donna, thank you for relocating to India and sharing your inspirational journey of birthing your children… thank you for the insane exercise classes, the enthusiasm and the calm both. Thank you for making me dance during labour and dancing with me. Charlotte, thank you for all the help before and during labour. Your Rebozo was really a magical piece of cloth and your hands wielded that magic so beautifully. I can never forget those moments during labour when you would gently tell me that I was doing well and should keep going. That gave me a lot of strength. Anna, thank you for being there, feeding me, making sure I was sipping on water, dancing with me and keeping my spirits high. Bincy, thank you for your perceptiveness, kindness and strength through my postnatal days there, for holding my hand, telling me it is ok to feel emotional. Thank you for always being just a message away for even the smallest and silliest of queries even today.
Thank you all for being the support you have been to us, for becoming our family for that time and always, for helping me believe that I can do it and supporting me through every surge. Honestly, during labour many a times I would look at all of you searching for any expression of judgement about whether I was doing well, was it going slow or fast, the amount of body fluids I was throwing out… But I couldn’t find even one of you judging any of it. Your complete acceptance of it all in the most matter of fact way, being rock solid about the support you provided me and the kindness and concern in each of your actions, touches me even today, as I write this. Birthing should be like this. A birthing woman deserves no less.

I have my family to thank too… My mom, who unquestioningly stood by me from the beginning, stayed with me for two months in an alien city and took complete care of my nutritional needs pre and post the birthing. Without her support this would have been nearly impossible. My dad and sis who took care of the home and grannies in Bombay, so that mom could come with me peacefully. My parents in law, for accepting this choice and coming in later to help my mom. My friends who have witnessed this long journey of ours and stood by us through and through.
Last but never the least, a huge thank you to S, the father of my bub, for standing by me in all the ways possible so that I could choose to birth the way I wanted. Also, for a fun two months in Kochi, for a special birthday before motherhood, for completely taking care of me and Bubbles after his birth and for being openly proud and bragging about me to everyone and for so so much more.

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