Much has happened in Poco Bunny Land over the last few months, most obviously the arrival of the mini Bun at the end of June. To say we’ve been on a rollercoaster of emotions during this time would be an understatement. There’s been profound joy, but it’s also been incredibly challenging, physically and emotionally. In part that’s because of how the mini Bun R actually arrived in the world. One of the first questions you’re asked during medical exams as a new mum is “did you have a normal delivery?” By which they mean, did you have a c-section or not? I didn’t have a c-section. But I also didn’t have a normal delivery, by any means.
Roshan Arjuna Pathak was born on Friday 21st June at 14.52, exactly a week before his due date, weighing 6lb1.
In the weeks running up to my due date, friends told me that just before he’d come, I would get a huge instinctive drive to organise and nest. Both Bartimaeus and I scoffed at the very notion that I would ever have the urge to organise anything. And yet on the Wednesday and Thursday prior to his arrival that’s exactly what happened. I even cajoled my father in law into building a chest of drawers for me so that I could finally sort out our clothes storage and Roshan’s. So when on Thursday afternoon back pain presented alongside the sciatica in my hip I'd been suffering from in the last week, I didn’t think anything of it, and carried on writing my draft conference paper sitting on my gym ball.
At about 4.30 in the morning though I woke up with some twinges and cramps and thought that was rather intriguing so downloaded a contraction timer. The contractions were 20 min apart so I tried to sleep and didn’t wake Bartimaeus. At about 7 the cramps were starting to annoy me and I’d read you have to use your TENS machine early on so I woke Pathik up to set it up for me (I’d only ordered it on Wednesday and received it earlier that day! Which is lucky as it ended up being the only pain relief I got throughout the process until my spinal anaesthetic for my stitches).
I kept timing my contractions but they were erratic – some were 16 min apart, some 5. I called the hospital at 9 and they told me it was far too soon to come in and to wait until the contractions were regular and 3-4 min apart. I wandered about eating cream crackers and telling Bartimaeus to leave me alone. At 12 I started to feel the urge to push and called the hospital again but my contractions were still all over the place and the nurse said the pushing was probably just “the position of the head” and not to come in. (When I recounted this to my midwife her eyebrow shot up and she rolled her eyes, so I’m guessing this was wrong advice.) I was in a fair bit of pain during the contractions and the times I wanted to push (I threw up a couple of times) but I kept thinking it’d get worse because I’ve never given birth before and it wasn’t unbearable (in hindsight, it may be that I share my sister’s incredible and slightly problematic uber-high pain threshold). I figured it’d get a lot worse before I was done. I do remember feeling quite tired at about 1 and telling Bartimaeus that if this was going to go on for another three days I didn’t think I could handle it because I wouldn’t have the energy to keep going, and that I would need the epidural I hadn’t originally ever wanted. (ha!)
Then at 2pm my waters broke and I rang the hospital again and they said that I should come in now. But I was upstairs (and unbeknownst to anyone, actually in full blown labour) so it took me 20 minutes to get down the stairs. My father in law arrived to take us to the hospital but by the time I got into the car, I had a huge urge to push and he crowned. I was totally bewildered and had no idea what was happening. My mother in law and Bartimaeus were shouting that he was on his way and that I needed to push again so I did, and he was born, in the back of my father in law’s car, just outside our house. I was screaming at them to make sure he was ok and for them to give him to me. Bartimaeus gave him to me, wrapped in a towel whilst in the process of also ringing 999. The ambulance arrived in minutes and we were “bluelighted” to the hospital, sirens and all. It was all very dramatic. Roshu was breathing erratically and very blue because it was such a shock entry into the world, and the paramedics were looking concerned all the way there which really terrified me. From the time he crowned to when we arrived in hospital, I didn’t feel any pain. I was just praying to God for Roshan to be ok all the way there and couldn’t think of anything else. He, subanAllah, heard my prayers.
When we got to the hospital Roshan was rushed to intensive care and I was rushed to an exam room. I was fairly distraught at being separated from Roshu and not knowing what was going on with him but I was examined and sent for surgery for the severest degree of tear (the price of not having a midwife about to tell you when and when not to do things!) But the surgical team were very reassuring and kept checking on him for me throughout my surgery so I could stay calm. Once I was stitched up and stabilised, after 11pm, having spent over 7 hours apart from my tiny beloved son, I was actually wheeled in my bed into ICU to see my Roshu, beautiful, tiny, and asleep in his incubator, needle pricks all over his tiny hands and heels, and wires everywhere. I stretched out my hand and held his perfect little fingers (mirrors of mine) in my hand and I cried, a lot. Happy, shaky and overwhelmed tears.
Roshu spent the next few days in ICU and I spent them on a ward healing up a bit, with Bartimaeus wheeling me down to see him and spend time with him for hours on end. But he got stronger very quickly, and we finally got discharged after 6 days. Coming home was the best feeling ever – whilst the neo natal nurses are AMAZING I had both great and hideous care on the wards and I was desperate to go home to the point I was just going to walk out if they didn’t discharge us that night (more on that in another post).
I’m still in a fair amount of pain (especially if I overdo things) and I face the prospect of having any further children by c-section (which is a shame, to say the least, because given how quick my first labour was there’s a good chance I would have had very easy natural births). All this, because as a first time mother, the signs my body was giving me weren’t taken seriously by the midwives on the labour ward. They assumed that all first time births take a long time, that as a first time mother I was bound to be overreacting, that I had no idea what my body was doing. I wish I had been in the right headspace to have just gone in anyway, but my mind was a blur (hell, I was in full labour without pain relief!) and I trusted the midwives implicitly. I think back to all that might have gone wrong that didn’t, and I’m thankful – but it was a trauma I’m still recovering from and one which made the first month of Roshu’s life very, very hard for us to enjoy.
Now, though, we are just revelling in our beautiful, wonderful boy. I see the joy he has brought to both our families, how much younger all his doting grandparents seem since he has arrived, and how every day he delights and amazes us in new ways, and I just feel so very blessed to be his mother. Roshan, which means light/sunshine, born on the summer solstice, the bringer a beautiful sunny summer to us all, the light of all our lives.