By way of Applique Work, Supernatural Pink T-Shirts and Singapore

It was from FB that I first came to know of Birthvillage – when my college senior Aathira Ajith birthed at Birth Village, about 2-3 years ago. I wasn’t even married then but was quite interested in knowing there is a natural birthing centre in Kerala. When my time came, and I realized I will be in India for my delivery, I remembered BV again and talked to Reinack about it. I didn’t have to convince him, he was all up for natural birth, anything to avoid the very common C-section trend in India. With many positive reviews from happy couples over the past few years, the potential to bring a ‘non-drugged’ baby into the world and the fact that the husband gets to be actively involved during the whole process, on paper, Birth Village seemed to be our best bet. Till my 31st week of pregnancy, I was working in Singapore, hence consulted a gynaecologist at a regular hospital there. Following a skype appointment with Birthvillage in January, Reinack & I decided we would pick water-birth at BV for delivering our baby From my 32nd week, I was in Kerala and came to Cochin for my fortnightly prenatal checkups. Reinack flew down for a short period to attend the couple sessions of Lamaze classes with me. These classes were very informative and helpful for our labour and postpartum experiences. Following the instructions from BV, I did squats, lunges, stair-climbing, exercise ball workouts and practised breathing techniques daily. My diet was also well taken care of by my in-laws and mother after I reached Kerala. I moved to Cochin with my mother in the 36th week and so could attend the morning workout sessions led by Donna that were held twice a week. I enjoyed the sessions which included stretches, meditation, breathing and dance workouts; it was nice doing all this with other mommies-to-be. I don’t think I would’ve done as much if I were doing them alone at home! Some interesting experiences at the prenatal appointments were that we were amazed at how our midwives+ could just touch my bump and say how the baby was positioned. Ours was positioned with the head down right from the time I arrived at Kerala at the beginning of February. Another fascinating experience was that the midwives touched my bump and found out I had skipped exercises 1 week and because the baby was in the same position as in the previous appointment! So yeah, in short, the BV midwives know what they are doing! 😉 Coming to my labour, one of my main concerns was if Reinack would be with me when I go into labour. What if I give birth when he is on the flight from SG to Cochin, what if my labour starts at night, the next direct flight to Cochin would be flying only after 24 hrs, blah blah… But it’s amazing how perfect the timings were! Reinack was to leave SG on the night of 4th April. On the 4th early morning, I noticed slight cramps in my lower tummy. From the Lamaze classes, we were aware of the early signs of labour. The cramps went away with movement first and then they came at irregular intervals. I went ahead with my daily activities and did not call the midwives. Lamaze classes made us confident that there were a few more hours to reach the active stage of labour. By the 4th evening, when Reinack was checking in at the airport, my contractions started becoming stronger. I started timing them – contractions were at 20-30 mins for a little over 1 min. I felt I was in the early phase of labour. Reinack and I decided it was time to call and let the midwives know. At 7 pm on 4th April, I rang my midwife up and gave her the contraction details. She asked me to go to bed early and call her when the contractions are around 10 mins apart. I made some tea and went back to stitching an applique bed sheet for our baby. Though I went to bed earlier than normal, I could not sleep much because the contractions were picking up slowly. Reinack was now on the flight, I prayed we could go to BV together At 2:40 am on 5th April, my mucous plug came out. By around 3:30 am, Reinack reached our house! We went to sleep ready to wake up to go to BV. By morning, my contractions became more frequent – with around 5 min intervals. We called Priyanka at around 9:15 am and told her we would reach in half an hour. When we reached, both Priyanka and Donna were waiting for us, the birth room set to our liking – with dim lights. Reinack had made a playlist with instrumental music (I love such music!). With the beautiful music playing in the background and in a room that looked nothing like a hospital room, Reinack and I started our adventure, with the midwives on our sides to support us. Walking, swaying, bouncing on the exercise ball, sitting on the birth stool, squatting using the birth rope, 6 flights of stairs, lunch and many contractions later, it was time for me to enter the pool. The warm water was soothing. “Our midwives eased us through the next couple of hours with motivating words and suggestions, which I felt was invaluable. Despite Viji’s best efforts, our baby’s amniotic sack (water bag) just wouldn’t break! Deep down, I felt we were in for an extended labour and feared that if the situation didn’t improve soon, Viji just wouldn’t have enough energy to push. I was wrong. Viji kept at it and the water broke. A few pushes later, our baby popped out! That moment is gonna be etched in my mind forever. She was soft, slippery, alert and perfect. Viji was exhausted Our midwives got to work with her and ensured everything was under control.” -Reinack There were times when I forgot to breathe, got scared and wondered whether I would be able to do it. I must say having Reinack by my side helped a lot – I could squeeze his arms when the pain increased, his hugs when I was in pain strengthened me. They all reminded me to breathe well. At 4:45 pm, our baby girl Norah popped out. It was painful, but the moment when I saw our baby and Reinack’s face bright with excitement, happiness and pride, will forever remain in my heart. It was truly special. Our baby was kept on my chest, a soft, slippery, delicate thing, looking right into my eyes Reinack cut the cord; and he is the one who inspected and told me it’s a girl! That was special too! I was exhausted by then and for the next few hours, I was in lah-lah land! But my midwives go to work and ensured that everything was under control. “It was difficult for me to watch at times. I have heard there is tremendous physical pain for the mother during childbirth. But hearing about it and the feeling of being there when it happens is incomparable. I got a better idea of what family is all about in the few hours I spent with my wife in labour. I think every husband should experience it at least once “ – Reinack Bv notes You know that the man is amazing when he comes in all fresh in a pink t-shirt that says supernatural for a birth hours after stepping in from another country looking fresh with no signs of jet lag whatsoever. You know the woman is out of this world with her soft yet strong courage willing to give it all that takes to have her baby in the best possible manner They complement each other so beautifully and have been able to work out their postpartum challenges so beautifully that we are all truly marvelled at their capacity. Well done guys! and congrats again……

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