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The Pregnancy Bonus – Part 5

I always knew I didn’t have any control on how my pregnancy progressed. I could only do my best to stay positive. I had told myself that every single day.

The premature contractions, however, shook me to the core (yes, pun intended). I was terrified. The mantra didn’t work anymore. All the spiritual books I read, the love of my family, my own grit – nothing helped. I needed something to retain hope. I needed to tell myself that I had done everything I possibly could to ensure the best outcome.

That meant action. How can you act to influence your body? Eating healthy, staying positive. But how can these bring you hope?

For me, the only way out was total submission to the will of God. To let it all go. And to think of nothing but Him. In moments of adversity this is HARD because that is when we question faith.

But then under bed rest, as a dependent for every need, the sheer powerlessness drives home fast.

You simply extend your dependence from human to the superhuman

So I started praying. I made a list of chants and prayers and songs. I set out reciting them twice a day, every single day. No. Matter. What.

That meant 6 hours of chanting a day. It totally consumed me. The talks with family reduced, my own free time to read or think reduced. All I did was pray because that was all I could do.

Prayer pushed out all thoughts including the negative ones. It streamlined my actions, gave me some semblance of control and most importantly, faith nurtured hope.

This was the final bonus. Getting the time and mental strength for packing a lifetime of prayers into a few months. For finding hope when life denied any.

How do you find hope in times of hardship? Sharing is one way. So please do share.

The Pregnancy Bonus Part 4

A few days after bed rest ended, the episode started. Day 1, I felt unusually nervous. I made constant trips to the bathroom. I found I couldn’t even sit comfortably though there was nothing wrong. By the end of the day, I slept from exhaustion.

Day 2 brought on what felt like menstrual cramps. It would come about 15 to 20 mins apart for a few seconds and leave. As I was suffering from gas from the beginning of pregnancy, I assumed this was another manifestation.

The pain got worse and I found myself clutching at pillows for every episode. I could only lie down the entire day and squeeze my eyes shut during those shocks of pain. Night was the worst. No position, no pillows, nothing helped. It pained constantly.

Could gas pains be this bad? Were these what they called Braxton Hicks?

Morning of Day 3, I could sit for a few minutes and walk gingerly. Though a bit better, we visited the doctor. I thought she would tell me I was hyper worried for no reason and gas pains are normal. I could almost see her laughing at the panic.

However, the panic should have been stronger. Strong enough for me to have come in a day earlier. As soon as she saw my gait, she worried. What? She was the most composed of humans I had ever seen. Immediately she ran tests and it was obvious I was having contractions every 5 minutes – at 22 weeks! I was admitted urgently and given tablets every 20 minutes and an injection every 30 minutes. The contractions subsided for some time, though my panic had just hit the roof. It was back to family for rescue again. They came as soon as they could.

That night was terrifying. It was a horrible cycle of pain adding to panic, panic triggering pain. After multiple rounds of medication, I finally slept from utter exhaustion for a few hours.

Next day morning the doctor told us the that despite the contractions, cervix was closed. That meant we were fine right?

No. The cervical length was 2.2cm, the cut off being 2.3cm. It was too risky to send me home. I was advised a cervical stitch. An operation! Me? I had never been admitted in hospital before pregnancy.

I had never even visited people in hospitals because that’s how scared I was of hospitals. Was I to undergo an operation?

I could feel the room close in on me and for the first time in pregnancy, I cried. But it was imperative that I gathered myself, fast. The surgery was due in an hour. I mustered all my strength and faith in God. I grasped my family’s hands and allowed myself to be wheeled in.

The operation required an anesthetic that would make me numb waist down. The prick itself was nothing and I could feel the numbness set in instantly.

In a few seconds it started. The shivering. Uncontrolled shivering of every part that wasn’t numb. Teeth chattering. Of course my hands and body were tethered. The doctors went about their business as usual and the operation was complete in half an hour. The shivering continued unabated even after I was wheeled out of the theater. It might have subsided after an hour – I had lost all sense of time.

I waited outside the operation theater. Apparently, I was there for 5 hours for want of a ward. Those 5 hours were a daze of slowly lifting numbness, flatulence and …. loneliness.

I was blessed. The stitches did not pain and recovery was smooth. Only I was very weak and hyper vigilant. The operation had made me gassy and every gas pain made me jump. This time the doctor did laugh and tell me I was panicking for no reason. I was sent home with advise of bed rest till delivery.

I will never know what triggered the contractions. But in this entire nightmare there were many bonuses. A gifted doctor, family that rushed to my side, surgery that was pain free and a smooth recovery. I came home thankful that we were safe and went right back into that loving embrace of family.

The Pregnancy Bonus Part 3

My entire life I hadn’t stayed home apart from holidays and sick days. One month of staying home, no no, staying in bed baffled me.

I had never had so much time – unplanned, unproductive, unwanted.

They say the mental state of mom directly affects the baby in womb. So I needed to stay calm. That precluded TV, current affairs, any fiction books that would cause me to be emotional. Ditto for non fiction books. How many children’s books can an adult read anyway? I had had quite enough of them.

That left me with two options – learn something new or immerse myself in spirituality. I chose the latter as physical discomfort was too much to overcome to be focused enough to study.

The initial days were HARD. The constant heart burn, nausea and vomiting filled my days refusing to allow space for anything else.

Slowly, I made myself follow a routine. At least that gave some shape to my blank days. As I read about my religion, I realized how little I knew about it. Gradually my interest increased and I started spending almost all my time reading. The remaining time was spent in loving, happy discussions with family.

This was Pregnancy Bonus 4 – the deep insight I gained into my religion, my role as a wife and mother, all the while being surrounded by a loving family. The time spent was not unproductive. On the contrary, it was deeply enriching.

Have you had to cope with long periods of bed rest? What came to your rescue? Do share what helped you so that it might help someone else.

The Pregnancy Bonus Part 2

I resumed work. Mentally, I was more pregnant than I felt physically. I took extreme precautions in everything I did. No lifting objects, no bending down, no stairs, no standing beyond 15 minutes, no sitting beyond 1 hour.

After two weeks, I came home one day to find I was extra tired. I realised I had stood for 2 hours without really noticing it. Work absorbs you sometimes isn’t it? I just went to bed early and called it a day.

But then, the day was not over, for the night was yet to come

At about midnight, I felt like I had peed in sleep – did I lose bladder control so soon? But then instinct whispered something else. I ran to the washroom throwing precaution to wind and found myself bleeding.

At this time, I could only croak my husband awake. No other sound escaped my lips. Silently, we made way to the emergency room as I tried hard to tell myself this was not a miscarriage as I felt no pain.

As the doctors poked and probed without uttering a word, I felt panic rise within me. Oh God! Could this really be? Why the silence if nothing was wrong?

Finally, we saw the heart beat and knew that though my body was fragile, the maternal bond was strong.

That’s when the real waterworks started, this time from my eyes. The sheer relief was overwhelming and I felt every part of my body just sink into the bed. I had no strength left….. My family stepped in and gave me all the support I needed even though it was 3AM on a weekday. I knew I was not alone no matter what. That was Bonus 3.

I was now advised one month bed rest. What? One month? What was I supposed to do with myself? I returned home weak and confused, unsure of what lay ahead and what I would do.

If not for family, I am not sure I could have coped as well as I did. Have you had any such horrifying experience? How did you cope? Do share your experience for all to learn from.

The Pregnancy Bonus – Part 1

Life starts before it is born – as the tiniest of flutters in the womb.

It was surreal but true. Excitement trumped all apprehensions. Would I be a good mom? I am going to be a mom anyway!!!

However, according to my stars, my happiness is always to be tinged with sorrow or regret. Pregnancy was no exception.

The 6th week ultrasound showed blood in the uterus and thus followed two weeks of complete bed rest. The anguish of even the slightest chance of losing the baby was too much to bear. Being chained to the bed did not help. Neither did the medication that made me sick, constant heart burn, nausea, gagging at almost every smell and nightly vomitings. I desperately clawed for something to help me bide time without losing my sanity and most importantly, hope…

I enlisted help of family for taking care of home. Being blessed with a family that can step in at such times was Bonus 1. I can’t sufficiently state in words how much that meant. Apart from the physical aspect, it is a solace just having people around, anyone to talk to, someone to worry about you when you are down and out. Bed rest demands support from understanding people whoever they may be.

Despite the care, I quickly realized only I can take care of myself – my mental state, for it might have a direct impact on the baby. I chose to place my bed in a place where I could see the sky lying down. I surrounded myself with children’s books with happy endings. This helped immensely. It’s surprising how small things make the most difference. Seeing the sky calmed my senses and reading distracted me. If both didn’t work, I played board games with family. That always worked. It was pure fun and therapeutic at the same time. Getting the time to play with family was Bonus 2. When else do we play otherwise?

Two weeks of bed rest stretched into three and I thought this was all there is to it without realizing how entirely mistaken I was. More to come in subsequent posts.

Have you had to cope with severe physical discomfort or the anguish of bed rest? Do share your experiences here. You never know who might be benefitted by it.