Well folks, as you can guess from the title, Ducky has hatched!!!!
And Ducky is a girl, so I can continue to use the feminine form of address in my writings….It is so exciting to actually see this little bundle that was growing within me and see how perfect and complex she already is.
As with a lot of things during my pregnancy, there was a lot of additional excitement towards the end. The last few weeks had been very tumultuous, starting from week 32. Looked like Ducky was going to come early and we started doing our research on how to take care of a preenie baby. I was also dealing with fluctuating BP rates, moderate to low sugar levels, headaches, nausea, cramps and breast engorgement – all in all not a pleasant few weeks. My conversations with Ducky become longer and I started talking to her about communicating her discomfort to me. My discomfort wasn’t as much of a concern to me as was her doing well in-utero. At the back of my mind was the worry that she would go into distress and I would not notice it immediately which could have had serious consequences. Keeping track of various parameters and keeping an eye out for any signs of distress was nerve-wracking. Being on guard constantly started to wear me down.
I had frequent scans and check-ups with my doctor and every day that we passed was a bonus for Ducky’s growth and development. I would describe the last two weeks before Ducky’s arrival as the worst of the pregnancy. I was completely alright in the mornings – waddling my way around the house, enjoying my time with my parents and grandparents and generally planning things. But come the afternoons, the tide would shift in the opposite direction. Nausea, worthy of being compared to the first trimester time, and excruciating headaches, would cause me to roll in pain (as much as I could roll with my baby belly). Those few hours a day were pure hell. However this period was another example of how miraculous the body is – the recovery that I would have made early morning everyday from all the pain was unbelievable. To look at me and see the chirpy me, no one could imagine the intense discomfort I was in just a few hours before.
Late one afternoon, the headache got so bad that I was crying out in pain. My mother decided that the risk of me having a convulsion was higher than she would like and rushed me to the emergency room of our chosen hospital. My obstetrician took one look at me there and announced that an emergency caesarean section would be scheduled for 2 hours later. It was time for Ducky to come out – there was just too much havoc being created by her continuing in-utero, for both of us.
I was in such a daze with the headache, that I was barely aware of what was happening around me. I’m really glad that I had my hospital bag packed and ready to go at home, which my father just had to bring across. My mother was my rock during these hours. She made all the arrangements – got my husband to come to the hospital asap and got the necessary permissions.
I should mention here that it was planned to deliver Ducky via a c-section as she was in an extended breech position. This means that her bum was very firmly situated in the cervix and in the previous weeks her position had not changed at all. There are techniques to help the baby change position in-utero, but I was not willing to put Ducky under that stress. If she was happy and doing well in that position, then who am I to change that? All it meant was that I would not birth her naturally but through a caesarean section – not a big deal at all.
So around 6:30pm I was wheeled into the operation theatre. This is where I marvel at the advancements in medicine. I was given only a spinal anaesthetic so that I am aware of when the baby is born and can see her immediately upon birth. The anaesthetist was a wonderful doctor who spoke to me about various things as my obstetrician started her work down below and I didn’t even realise when the incision was made. Some tugging and pulling happened (it felt just like Ducky moving around quite strongly) and in less than 3 minutes from the start of the operation Ducky was pulled out. Incredible – mind boggling. Even before the umbilical cord was cut, Ducky was raised above the curtain protecting me and I got to see her for the first time. It all happened so quickly that I couldn’t believe that this little being was pulled out from me. Once the cord was cut (my husband got the opportunity to cut it), the paediatricians checked her out. She passed these initial tests with flying colours.
A nurse then brought her across to me and got her to latch onto my breast to start the process of breast feeding and also to get my hormones going in this regard. This was the first time that I could see Ducky properly and I was just awestruck. Tears filled into my eyes very quickly and everything blurred for those few minutes. Ducky was kept in an incubator about 3 feet away from me while the doctors finished their work on me. The team was kind enough to keep the incubator such that I could see it too, and I kept turning my head towards it to see the baby – who was not very clear considering she was behind the incubator screen and completely swaddled. However it was very comforting just to see the incubator and know that Ducky was lying there safe and sound. I continued my dialogue with Chaplu papa in my mind, even though she could not hear these thoughts directly now that she was out – but I just wanted to send her positive and comforting vibes so I continued to do so until the end of the surgery.
A few weeks before, it had been discovered that Chaplu papa was smaller in gestation age as compared to other babies and the red flag of intra-uterine growth retardation (IUGR) was raised. Of course, there was an underlying worry within me on what this meant to Ducky’s growth and development and there was no way we would know the outcome until her birth. However, Ducky surprised us with her resilience and strength when she came out with a weight of 2.52kgs (not as small as we had expected) and length of 19 inches. The relief I felt on knowing that she had not been adversely affected in-utero was calming and anxiety about her growth slipped away from me.
Both Ducky and I were wheeled out of the operation theatre (in our respective beds) and settled into our room. My mother immediately placed Chaplu papa next to me in my bed. The effect of the anaesthesia was still quite strong so I was not able to move much and there was no risk of me squashing this little bundle next to me. Moreover, my maternal instinct had kicked in quite strongly and I was very aware of exactly where the baby had been placed. Seeing her lying next to me, noticing all her features was just indescribable. Can’t express the joy I felt on knowing that this was our baby – and she was hale and healthy. I was absolutely thrilled. I closely examined her head full of hair, eyes, nose, ears sticking out, hands with fingernails ready for cutting, toes with square shaped toenails and her legs. Still can’t wrap my head around the fact that this tiny bundle was sitting within me and growing over the last few months. I guess I imagined Ducky to be still forming with mainly a skeletal base and some skin, but this perfectly formed miniature human being popped out of me. Miraculous – is the only word that best describes this moment. For those of you who have gone through this, I’m sure you had similar experiences, right?
We had not narrowed down on any names for boys or girls before the birth of Ducky, wanting to do it the more traditional way where we see what time the baby is born to note which syllables are auspicious for the name to start with. So when I saw the baby, she looked more like Chaplu papa to me as compared to Ducky, and that was her name for the first few days.
As the anaesthetic wore off over the next few hours, the pain from the incision started to come through. Every movement was extremely painful, but Chaplu papa gave me all the motivation I needed to go through all the pain. The way the body reacts is spectacular!! In less than an hour after Ducky’s birth, I started to produce milk and was able to breastfeed her. The baby cooperated very well too and was able to latch on very comfortably. I am really grateful to my mother who handheld me in those first few days and can I just say that the feeling of giving your little bundle nourishment is out of this world. Absolutely magnificient. Nipple pain and breast engorgement (the two things that hit me in the first 48 hours) were so much more tolerable just thinking of this wonderous thing that I can do as a woman and a mother.
The other fascinating thing that happened in the first few hours post delivery was to actually see her movements and relate it to the kicks / punches / rolls that I used to feel when Ducky was in-utero. Seeing the movements live and in-person was remarkable and it continues to amaze me.
We were all quite shell shocked with the speed at which things happened, but ecstatic with the end result. My once in a lifetime experience of pregnancy had come to an end. It couldn’t have happened on a more auspicious day either. A girl baby was born on gowri puja and in the evening, after all the morning ceremonies had been completed. The piece de resistance was that she was born on a Thursday, exactly 380 weeks after we were married (the same day of the week that we were married on). And I love the symmetry of the date of her birth – 09.09.2021 – a series of odd numbers!!!
Our home coming a few days later was very emotional. As Chaplu papa was born 4 weeks early, we decided to be extra cautious and mainly stay in my room till her expected due date, just to give her additional no-stress time to recover and also to ensure that she does not pick up any infection when interacting with people (which is a given considering how big our families are and how excited they are about her birth). So my grandparents, in-laws, parents, brother and his family, aunts and uncles had gathered in the verandah of our house to welcome us (all maintaining covid appropriate behaviour of course). I just couldn’t stop the tears that came into my eyes which then triggered others to have moist eyes too. I hadn’t really imagined myself as a mother bringing home a baby, that too a little girl and it hit me at that point that I had been given a very precious gift. I have truly been blessed to experience all of this.
Life has definitely turned upside down with the arrival of Chaplu papa. She is nearly 3 weeks old now and I love every moment of the circus that each day is. There is so much excitement jumping inside me. The next chapter in Duck Tales will come up in a few weeks time and I can’t wait to see what all Chaplu papa will be upto by then.
Until then, take care and cherio.