There was plenty of gushing warm liquid, but there was no muted sound of the champagne cork popping this time, probably because I was fast asleep as my water broke in the early hours of June 11.
A hesitant call into my doctor confirmed that this was no mere incontinence and that it warranted a visit to the labor and delivery (L&D) section of my hospital. So at 4 am we woke N up (who sat upright at the mention of "hospital" and "baby", scrambled down from his bunk bed and got ready in a jiffy), I called my parents who said they would be at the hospital by the time we got there, we said our quick prayers and piled into the car with a "hospital bag" (contents: change of clothes, toiletries, moisturizer, wallet, medical records) and a pillow for N in case he wanted to sleep during the long ride to the hospital.
During the last few weeks of the pregnancy, that was the major concern: the long ride to the hospital. All of our family, friends and anyone who noticed my condition and asked where I planned to deliver the baby would be worried about the distance and the condition of the roads to the hospital.
On a good day, with no traffic, we were a good one hour away. And on a bad day (which occurred often) the hospital was quite easily two hours away. The two major impediments were the two-lane Marathahalli bridge and the Madiwala market.
With all of the ITPL and Whitefield traffic having to pass through the Marathahalli bridge, it is the scene of miles-long backups every morning and evening. Although I love the Madiwala market, it is not much better for smooth flow of traffic.
On the left are fruit and flower sellers and on the right, vegetable sellers. The sheer amout of produce is mind-boggling. Mountains of cauliflowers, onions, coconuts, mangoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, greens, chillies, potatoes adorn the pavements under makeshift tents. Trucks are parked haphazardly on either side of the road offloading produce. There are men, women and children toiling away at arranging and selling the produce. It's a family affair. On any day that I have to pass through it, I don't mind being stuck in traffic and just looking at all the activity going on on either side of the wide road, but not a day went by without us wondering just how the ride would pan out on D-day.
As luck would have it, the "ride" ended up happening during the wee hours of a Sunday when all we had for company was a bright, full moon and lorries plying their trade on Outer Ring Road. And at that hour of the morning, there were only a few trucks offloading mounds and mounds of greens at the Madiwala market. One whole side of the road was free for moving traffic.
We made it to the hospital in about 35 minutes and walked in to a darkened lobby and corridors. All I knew was that the L&D section was on the 1st floor. Unlike in the US, we had not had a pre-admission tour of the L&D section. The 1st floor was equally dark. We walked around once, tried the second floor and were about to head back down to the first floor when we heard my parents' voices. We also ran into an orderly who finally took us through some back doors and down a flight of stairs to the L&D section which was tucked away into a non-decrepit corner of the hospital. All I kept thinking was, thank God I was not having any contractions!
The nurse at the L&D section checked me in and a showed me to the middle bed in a row of three beds. The beds on either side were unoccupied. A while later, the on-call resident walked in groggily, checked me up and confirmed that my water had indeed broken, called my OB/Gyn and reported the facts to her and received instructions on the next course of action.
Because my water had broken and I did not have any contractions, my labor had to be induced. So far, the script tracked N's birth pretty closely, down to the time my water broke in the morning. The various steps to induce labor (cervix effacing gel, pitocin drip plus two other injections) started around 7 am and continued until 3 pm.
The intervening period was eventful. The two beds on either side were occupied - one by a woman whose baby was pressing against her scar from a previous C-Section and so she was to go through another C-section that day to deliver her second baby as well, and the other by a woman who had started bleeding in her thirteenth week of pregnancy (a battery of tests later, she was told that everything was fine with the baby and she was ordered to stay in bed for a few days).
The C-Section lady and I shared my OB/Gyn. Her procedure was scheduled for 1 pm, right in the middle of my labor, which set off a mild panic - when would the doctor come out of the operating room? What if I wanted to push by then?
I asked the nurse and discovered that C-Sections take about 45 minutes and so the doctor would be back around 2 pm. I was surprised at how short the procedure was and for a moment, felt a twinge of self-pity - here I was, laboring since 7 in the morning with no end in sight. I did not have too much time to spend on that thought, fortunately, because the pitocin kicked in and I had dialated about 6cms by 2 pm.
The doctor walked in, saw my progress and debated whether she should go home and come back. Before I could start panicking again, she talked herself out of it on the thought that this was my second preganancy and that the last stages of labor might proceed at a fast clip and I might want to push all of a sudden.
So she sat down and waited.
Around 2:30, the doctor decided I was ready to go over to the delivery room (a room adjacent to where I had been for most of the day) and with the help of the nurse and V, I walked into a room with two delivery beds, one of which was prepared for me and the other was, thankfully, unoccupied. I was in excruciating pain and was screaming by then and I cannot imagine how it would have been with two of us doing that in that room.
The delivery room was bustling with activity. Two or three nurses prepped for the delivery, the doctor was robing herself, there were two paediatricians looking over a newborn over to my left, and an orderly was bustling about handing people whatever they needed. A fetal monitor was hooked up to me, V was feeding me water and generally getting his fingers crushed and pinched everytime I had a contraction.
The big clock on the wall in front of me was ticking away and by 3:30, it was time to push. With N, I had pushed for close to 30 minutes before he was born and I braced myself for another marathon pushing session. This time around, I pushed twice, each time feeling like the baby was never going to come out, but the second push did the trick.
At 3:46, the doctor announced that it was a girl. Of course, in India, by law, it is a surprise whether you're having a boy or a girl. And it certainly was a surprise, despite our many attempts to figure out body parts from grainy ultrasound pictures. V was leaning over to look. I think it took a minute for it to register that it was a girl, followed by relief because he so desperately wanted a girl that we had picked a girl's name and had not chosen a boy's name yet.
And so, little N came into this world.