Long post alert. (But well worth the read)

We first came to know about Birth Village through a chance acquaintance with on of the midwives. We had not totally decided to have a baby at that time, but were nonetheless very apprehensive about the way how birth is being handled by most of the insitutions. Reading through the Birth Village web site gave us a feeling that this is definitely a place worth exploring. So when Sandhya’s periods slipped and both the color bands turned pink, the first thing we did was to get an appointment with Birth Village even before confirming everything in a hospital.
We started the monthly consultations in Birth Village from the second month of pregnancy. Being the usual paranoids, we continued to consult another care provider in another insitituion parallelL. Sandhya had the idea that she would anyway be going to her home for delivery which is in Thrissur and delivering at Birth Village did not seem real to us at that time. During the first consultation we told our midwife that Sandhya would be going to Thrissur in the 3rd or 4th month and would like to take classes and consultations till then. We were not confident at all that we would be able to manage this thing in any other way. When asked to think hard about who would she want to be with her when she is in labor – Nurses and Doctors only? Her Mom? or Her Husband? – which probably was the inception of a change in our mindsets.

We signed up for the Active Mamma workout classes. The workout classes had a phenomenal impact on Sandhya’s confidence, her well-being, and the way we thought about handling pregnancy. Sandhya had a smooth first trimester without any sickness worth mentioning. We took great care about the diet – reduced carbs, reduced sugar, increased millets and fibrous foods, had sprouts regularly and increased fruits and salads. Sandhya was taking the usual medical supplements as well. Since she already used to workout, it was easy to keep the pregnancy workout routine. We were staying at Perumbavoor during that time and could not come for all the 3 workout classes every week. However, we tried to make sure that we did not miss the Saturday workout classes. It was not just for the actual workout that the classes were providing, but we regard them more precious for the droplets of gyan (knowledge) that were imparted during the sessions and the sense of camaraderie that develops among the fellow preggers. With each monthly consultation, our confidence was increasing that this is something we can do after all. The open houses were really helpful in getting to know how others like us have gone through this experience. Deep down, philosophically, the way Birth Village is treating pregnancy and delivery as a powerful expression of the strength of the feminine moved us the most and brought about the decision to bring our first child in to the world at Birth Village.
The second trimester was also very smooth thanks to the diet and the workouts. All the regular scans and examinations were normal.The Lamaze classes provided very organized information on various aspects of handling pregnancy, delivery and after delivery care. Although you can find a lot of information in the internet these days, having everything required – and more importantly nothing else – in a concise and streamlined way was very helpful in orienting ourselves effectively.

By this time, the baby was getting very active inside the mom’s belly. We used to talk to her regularly, play songs and even show her an animation video of the developments through the trimesters and a smooth delivery! We kept a baby journal and drew little sketches, wrote jokes and lots of trivia about what we were going through – the baby book! In one of the gyan sessions, mentioned about cultures that venerate the placenta. We were looking for different ways of revering this celebration of life, and taking a hint , came up on a not so usual thing – to take a color print of the placenta after delivery. We envisioned it to look like a beautiful tree of life! We took up an apartment for rent in Kakkanad around the 36th week of pregnancy and moved there. We made sure that we were going out, enjoying and doing stuff during this time instead of getting laid back at home. It was kind of unclear whether the baby was head down or in breech position.We were recommended inversion exercises good for turning the baby and Sandhya did those for couple of weeks. A later scan showed the baby in head down position and we were relieved. After 36th week, we stopped doing research and reading about pregnancy and that sort of stuff, so that what we carry in our minds when we go into labor would be just an amalgamated recollection of everything so far. Sandhya started having the practice labor contractions that showed things were progressing fine. We packed the birth bag and were all set. The placenta printing artifacts were also packed into the bag!
During that time, the exercise classes were suspended for some time. This kind of affected Sandhya’s mood as those had now become an integral part of her pregnancy management and confidence. Our midwife calmed her down.The due date was nearing and baby had not yet turned into an optimal position for descent. Our midwife lectured us at length about patience and asked us to finish everything that we had thought of doing before the baby and start looking forward to the delivery. We did that over the next few days – visited the Kochi Muziris Biennale, Sandhya got herself a pixie haircut, watched ‘Dear Zindagi’ and ‘Dangal’, reconfirmed the birth bag packing and were all set again! Sandhya to do lots of hands and knees to prod the baby to turn and move down. Sandhya mopped the entire apartment everyday on her knees on all the following days! We were also climbing all the 300 steps to our apartment every day. The official due date came and went. We had told everybody that the due date was a month out from the actual one and so were not pestered with a lot of ‘how are things? – what are you doing?’ calls. But oh yeah, you can’t fool mom! She remembered the date that we had told after the very first hospital consultation when we did not know about the ‘stealth mode’. She did inquire and we told her that during the last scan the due date was moved! But as we were moving through 41st week, Sandhya started to get a little anxious our midwife again calmed her down saying that the baby knows best when to come.
We had some mucus plug show that excited us, but then again for three days nothing happened. We were due to scan on 16th January 2017, Monday. The very same morning, things started rolling with a bloody mucus show and then contractions. Sandhya was happily trotting down the apartment during each contractions. She initially started counting the contractions in an app but our midwife warned her to stop that and go about normal life till the contractions are very close to one another. Sandhya was sitting on the birth ball, walking, and generally moving about. We watched a movie also albeit interrupted often by the contractions. By evening, the contractions were becoming quite close and we called to see when to come in. She asked us to wait it out till it becomes sort of unbearable.
By 5.30 pm we started for Birth Village when the contractions were 4-5 minutes apart. At first I drove like a well-mannered, law abiding citizen till the Kakkanad signal junction. There was a not so short queue of cars there. I waited. The next contraction came and Sandhya started growling like a tigress! Oh baby! I switched to ‘The Fast and The furious’ mode – all lights blazing, blaring horns, cutting through the opposite lane and jumping the signal with gay abandon! We reached Birth Village by 5.45 pm – must be a personal lap record at least!

Our birth team were waiting there to usher us in and they eased us into the next stage of our grand journey. The baby’s head was nicely engaged by now – the baby had done great work during these few days – of turning and moving down, probably while Sandhya was mopping about!We settled down, the contractions kept coming, and we started playing the labor play list – ‘kya kare, kya na kare(Rangeela), yeh kaise mushkil hai!!!’ Sandhya had some light food to keep her energy going. The dilation continued to increase – 7cm, 9cm and counting. We walked, climbed steps, broke into little jiggles and tried various positions to ease the descent of the baby. I could feel the struggle that Sandhya was going through – overpowering contractions, the expectation of meeting our loved one, the long wait and energy draining bit by bit. Our midwife said, that’s the usual nature of the first delivery, and urged us to relax. At about 10 pm, Sandhya was checked and told that the baby is now in +1 position – good progress. Sandhya got into the pool and it was very relaxing for her. She spent the next couple of hours in the pool. This calmed her down a lot, but she was feeling sleepy and the baby was also staying put – sort of like, I’m not one to be born on a Monday. However, from the heart rate checks, the baby was doing very fine inside. It was past midnight now and and she was asked us to lie down and sleep for a bit and wake up when things are a bit more further along.
I was tired and dozed off a bit alongside Sandhya, she was still going through contractions. I’m not sure if she could sleep, she was already in some state of altered consciousness. I woke up at about 2 am, our midwives were inside and checking Sandhya. They announced that the water can break any moment and the baby’s head was right behind the bag. Invigorated, we got up and the contractions returned with even more power. Sandhya growled, squatted, leaned, hung on the rope, and climbed steps again for the next two hours through overpowering contractions. However, progress was slow and Sandhya was getting exhausted. the baby’s head was well inside the birth canal, and the midwives offered whether the membranes could be ruptured the membrane as sandhya was getting a bit exhausted at this stage We considered it, but waited for couple more contractions to see if it happens on its own. I could see that it was having quite a toll on Sandhya and then we decided to break the membrane. The waters were very clear, the baby was not in any stress and was doing fine. The baby’s head was just a couple centimeters from crowning but something was not budging. We were in this suspended animation for a long time. The care and support that both our midwives gave during this time was very commendable. Our third postnatal head joined us by now and was helping them. It was nearing 9 am in the morning and our midwife recommended that we should start an IV line to infuse some quick spurt of energy into her as she was unable to eat for a long time. We did that, and it did help to revive Sandhya. Over the next few earnest efforts of her through the contractions, the baby started crowning. She was standing and squatting now, the baby was swinging forward and back through the birth canal during and after contractions but was still inside.Our midwife like a stern task master, ordered Sandhya that she wants the baby delivered in the next 20 minutes. Our midwife recommended giving an episotomy to Sandhya for easing the opening and we agreed The baby had crowned, I could see a small round shape with lots of hair sticking out a little. I stooped down to Sandhya’s ears and told her –” we should have our baby now and that I loved her a lot”. The next contraction came before the cut could be made- time was standing still,
Our midwives were encouraging at their loudest best, Sandhya was fuming like a steam engine, I was holding my breath and watching, and plum!!!

On 17/ 1 /17, at 10:55 am, our first child, baby girl Anamika, jumped out from her mother’s womb into the waiting hands of Amy.
It was exhilaration all around, and tears and smiles and laughs.

Anamika – ami – looked all alien like with pointy head and eerie looking skin but was lovelier than anything that I had set my eyes on so far! She was birthed on to her mother’s bare chest and covered lightly. Sandhya was beaming with unfathomable emotions and laughing. Ami made delicate sounds, clutched her fingers and rested there peacefully.

The placenta was soon delivered. Sandhya was inhabiting worlds somewhere far over the rainbows to be bothered. But thanks to still almost normally functioning mental faculties, I was able to tell our birth team to keep the placenta safe and that we had some plans for it.
During an eventful day that followed, of learning to feed, Sandhya tired , and baby girl Anamika sleeping for a long part of the day on my bare chest, my mental faculties never let the matter of the placenta slip.
In the evening, when the mom and the baby were sleeping peacefully, I snatched some precious lull periods and made it.
The placenta print.(Our birth finale)

Bv notes
Intuitive, care and love are three words that spring for this lovely trio
A super long pushing phase yet this mum kept her morale up and her partner never wavered despite working in labor for over 24 hours
Lots of love and encouragement, nourishment and right critical decisions got this labor mum and baby doing great.
It is equally amazing to see how dad manages the home , takes care of his wife and baby, cooks and cleans all by himself(he would truly would put any home maker to shame with his housekeeping skills)
Well done !!!!You guys were awesome to say the least

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