Facing your tigers

I first heard about Birthvillage in 2014, when my cousin opted this place for his baby’s birth. Next year his sister also gave birth here..but I never really thought that I would be coming to this place!
I got married to Sandeep in 2016 after a 7 year long relationship ..I got pregnant in Jan 2017. I was doing my post-graduation in dentistry in Bangalore and Sandeep the same in Kerala. So once I confirmed my pregnancy with a home kit I met a careprovider in Bangalore. Two incidents that happened with this careprovider made me rethink about giving birth in a hospital.
On the first appointment (I might be around the 5th week) doctor did an internal examination. It was sudden and quite disturbing, and still I don’t know why she did an internal examination at that early stage…and she told me not to travel too. This was my first pregnancy, I don’t have a history of an abortion and no scans have been done till then. I actually wondered why my pregnancy need to be under the scanner. My normal pregnancy was slowly turning into a hazardous one and the happiest feeling in the world suddenly became something to be afraid of.
This made me think how normal both my cousins were during their pregnancy. I had already read the different stories in BV fb page and had a good idea about how things were done there…I knew my parents would want me to go there, but convincing Sandeep was a herculean task.
Born to parents who are both doctors is both an advantage and disadvantage I guess, it was very difficult to convince him to at least come to BV. Finally he agreed for the first appointment; but on one condition; it’s just one appointment and nothing more.
I still remember the day on which we both waited outside Birthvillage. Sandeep was so tensed and I kept assuring him that if he is not convinced we won’t be coming back for a second appointment and then we met our primary midwife. She cleared many of the doubts we had, and she checked baby’s heartbeat. The way she did things were so comforting and the most important thing, she asked my permission to touch my belly!! Initially we signed up for the Lamaze classes and I also attended the nutrition and diet class before going back to Bangalore.

I went on with the 45 minutes walking, mild exercises for 30 minutes and the 300 stairs every day, but staying in college hostel and following the diet was difficult, I followed as much as I could and I thank my co pgs and seniors for helping me with the diet and exercise.
Then I had my 5th month scan from Bangalore on 10th of may 2017.Everything about the baby was fine, but my cervix length was only 2.6 mm, which was not good according to the radiologist who did the scan.

Next day I met my careprovider at the hospital who was so gleeful that my cervix length was only 2.6mm. She decided to do the cervical suturing then and there, but I informed her that I was not ready for it then and will turn up for the same the next day. I called Priyanka and she told me that we can do a confirmatory scan back at home and will think of our options after that. After coming to Kochi we did our scan again with a highly recommended radiologist at panoply nagar. Here our radiologist told us that the cervix length is 3.5mm and there is nothing to be worried about. That incident shook our belief in the entire medical system. My careprovider didn’t even explain what short cervix length meant and what the complications are. Nothing was explained to me, even the decision to do the suturing was not a matter of choice for me. Everyone was doing it that way in the hospital and I had to do the same!. Later on I found out that there are several things I can do regarding a short cervix length, and yes; suturing was a safe option; but I would have liked to hear all my options out and then make a decision for myself.. Happily we attended the next Lamaze class and that same week we heard the birthstory of Gayathri Kiran. It was her second baby and a VBAC. Her confidence and happiness was literally palpable in the air! This changed Sandeep’s mind-set and we thank her for that inspiring talk.

I worked till the end of my 32 nd week. (Apart from the 1st month, I travelled to Kerala and back in bus, train and flight.) Rest of my pregnancy was like any other,.. dietplans,workouts, walking, stairs..(Oberon and central mall fire exits have around 300 stairs ladies.., don’t miss those)
My water broke on 20th early morning and the pain started on 21st early morning. In hospitals if your water breaks then its pain induction or a C-section in 24hrs. Again and again our decision to choose BV over hospitals were getting proved right.
All through my pregnancy I never had a negative thought about giving birth, I was sure I could do it, and in the last few weeks, with all the workouts I was very positive about the birth. But on that day morning I really don’t know what happened to me, maybe I was fearful and couldn’t just face the prospect at that point of time. When my midwife checked my dilation at 9.30 on 21st morning it was 8 cm. It was a positive news, and both of us were super excited. But then the frequency of my contractions reduced. Time moved on, things were not moving fast. My midwife then talked to me, she told something was pulling me back and unless I let go off my fears and embrace them, contractions won’t occur. By 4 pm I was 10 cm dilated and then too the urge to push was not there. I tried pushing but my midwives told me that it wasn’t the right way or right time and I didn’t understand what they meant. We tried different positions during contractions, I was not feeling comfortable in any position and I was really trying to avoid the most painful position. My midwife understood this and again she told me I had to welcome the pain, only then I will move on to the next stage. Finally at 7pm she told me they will have to consider transferring me for further interventions if nothing happens in the next 2 hours. I think that sort of triggered something in me; all the reasons of why I chose BV hit me and I thought of all the pains that both of us have taken. Sandeep kept on telling me “you are going to do this here, you will do it”. ..and I started pushing with all my heart into it. Initially I didn’t understand what I was doing, but after sometime I understood what they meant by bearing down. I hung on to a rope when the contractions came with one midwife lying flat on her stomach floor waiting for the baby and Sandeep supporting from behind, after some time the other midwife exchanged places with Amy, Sandeep kept on telling me to drink water which I obliged initially, but later on I was shouting at him too. For the final push I could hear everyone telling me “go ahead! You can do it” and my midwife was literally at the top of her lungs “Aparna, you are not going to relax now, you are getting the baby out”. I pushed with all the strength merely by draining energy at my midwife(somehow I could muster the energy when I looked at her). My baby came out at 9.50pm( my midwives told me he stayed strong the entire 13 hrs, with a strong heart rate, not even wavering once) I could sense Sandeep highly emotional and telling me to look at our son. My boy was instantly given to me, and he looked at me in wonder. At that moment with the three of us, I knew all the pain was totally worth it. My baby was laid skin to skin onto me, he latched on well and I breast fed him within 2 hrs.
When I talked to my friends about this experience they were like.. ‘wow u have become a superwoman’. Yes, I do feel more confident and a whole lot positive and happier. And I really want my friends to have this wonderful experience. We have to get rid of the thought of considering pregnancy like a disease, as it’s the most wonderful stage in a woman’s life…and in BV there’s no judgement, you can be yourself, you can walk, talk, eat, drink, shout, and do whatever you want… our whole hearted thanks to my midwives, without whom I wouldn’t have done this. Their constant support through the entire pregnancy, and every advice, every word of confidence from them have helped me a lot. I wouldn’t have had the energy to do this if it wasn’t for my midwives, and it’s true, when women help each other, incredible things do happen. And Priyanka if not for your wise scoldings and eye openers regarding my inhibitions, I wouldn’t be standing here..
We also thank Bincy who was with us the night after and told us what every cry meant( both of us were clueless initially why the baby cried)and my midwives and Bincy both of whom have helped me pass through my pregnancy blues. And thanks for the postnatal house visits by , the refreshing bath given by chichi, and to the entire staff of BV.
For Sandeep it was very difficult to choose midwifery path from the obstetric model with all the pressures around(thank you for being there for me). On the day of birth it was his confidence that kept me going. And thanks to both sets of parents for allowing us to do it the way we want. You all have been with us in all our decisions, and we are glad that the initial disagreements about choosing a different path didn’t creep up later.
What I understood after my birthing experience is that there are some parts in this where you are going to walk alone. You have to be there alone. People surrounding you can guide you, but you have to face your fears. And finally I understood what my midwives were telling me all along. Only if your mind is ready to receive your body will cross over
Good luck to all the ladies out there in BV, every person’s experience will be different. But one thing is sure. With our midwives around us, WE CAN.
Bv notes
This mum at 5’1′ had a lot of challenges during her pregnancy and would often come to prenatal with doubts and questions and we would clarify them through
we came to a point when we said “Do you really wish to this ?maybeb you need to look through all your options again?
and both of them came back with a very affirmative yes !and they convinced us why they wanted to birth their baby with midwives
and yes it was definitely not easy for dad with years of conditioning to think outside the box
having said that he was the most amazing labor support ever. He was there with her every step of way, massaging , encouraging, talking through her fears.
We are proud!!
Mum was able to release her fears and was able to walk the path that only she could take and did an amazing amazing job!!!

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