Dad’s perspective on navigating many a twist and turn, from Preconception to Birth✨

“As we share our birth story, it brings a rush of overwhelming emotions & memories. Our journey with TBH began with a #preconception consult weeks before we even started to plan this baby! Dozens of wonderful consults, hundreds of questions, some amazing birth preparation classes and outlook altering workshops later, it was 39 weeks and 5 days! “

Day 1: March 29th 2022, Anchal was in the kitchen when she felt a trickle of water leaking with a tinge of colour. While we had always planned to spend early labor at home binge watching, maybe going for a quick drive and what not, (For those new to this model – Yes, it’s ok Not to rush to a hospital in a normal early labor, it’s ok to go on a drive, a stroll, to shop, to Netflix and maybe even chill.

We reached TBH around 10PM, welcomed by Anabelle’s warm, wide infectious smile as expected. She monitored the fetal heart rate for about 20 minutes while the rest of the birth team arrived. Although the checks showed that the baby seemed normal, chilling in there, some concerns at this stage without any contractions or other signs of labor led to deciding that it’s best for us to spend the night at The Birth Home.

Anchal always had this perfect vision (and I was with her on this) to have her labor kick in sometime early afternoon, go to The Birth Home early morning next day, birth by noon and come back home by late evening without having to spend a single night out of our house. Well, we realized that’s not happening! We were hardly done settling down in the Blue birth room hanging these beautiful positive affirmations Anchal had written for herself.

The team assessed that this symptom, coupled with the bleeding, although minimal, could possibly be due to a small placental abruption – a condition where the placenta somewhat detaches from the uterus even before labor. While this wasn’t an emergency right at the moment, an increased abruption could cause further complications and develop into an emergency.

Then came one of the bitterest, most painful moments in our birth journey when the team suggested we get transferred to the back up hospital for further assessment.

Although we were well equipped with the amazing schooling this team had given us on how every labor and birth is unique and that accepting labor as it unfolds is the way to go, it was so disheartening to see Anchal holding back her tears, trying so hard to be ok with the situation. Her face had these words written clearly in bold capital letters – “Why so soon? I’m not even in labor yet. No pain, no discomfort. All this preparation, all the classes, workshops, the positivity boosts, a textbook perfect pregnancy with no complications or risks, and for what? A hospital transfer in the first 2 hours? Without even the onset of labor? WHYYY???”
Anyway, after a rather long, detailed discussion around the pros and cons of going to the hospital, we made our peace with the fact that a C-section was not the worst way to meet our little one. I would like to call out that not just at this moment but throughout our birth journey, the team always made sure that we made decisions together. We were informed of all the benefits and risks involved in taking any approach and all our concerns and doubts were always clarified with so much patience. We were given the ultimate liberty to decide. This shows how much they respect the family and acknowledge that we deserve to know everything, which is so different from what one experiences at a hospital. Trust me, I’ve seen marriages and business deals being arranged with lesser informed decision making😁
Also, I could see what the team meant when they said they’re pretty conservative in their approach and that when it comes to the mama’s and baby’s safety, they have a zero risk tolerance method of working. Being pro natural birth or against unnecessary medical intervention doesn’t make them any less vigilant about risks.

So at the hospital, although the checks and assessments were uncomfortable, fortunately they didn’t think there was any risk of abruption of the placenta, in which case we said we wanted to go back to The Birth Home. They cooperated with us on this for which we’ll always be thankful.

Annnnd here we were, on our way back to The Birth Home, which no one had expected except this lionheart Mama !! It was already the morning of 30th March by now. The scan to rule out the abruption didn’t show anything significant in that direction. Phew!! We still had some indications stacked against us hence waiting for natural labor was no longer an option. But now we were back in the hands of the Goddesses at The Birth Home! If an induction was needed, so be it. we still felt much safer and happier 😊
And man oh man, they were so gentle with it. It started with a very, very mild dose and with more than 4 times the love 😁

Day 2: So the whole day of 30th March was mostly about covering last night’s sleep debt and waiting for labor to start with a few small doses of the oral induction drug at some intervals. Also, there was a very regular listening to the baby’s heart rate since we already had some unusual situations. Now since the oral doses didn’t help all day, the team offered to administer it vaginally, again in a miniscule dosage. And it was again done with so much respect and understanding here. Anchal says; that all the internal checks done here felt far better and more comfortable and safer than the hospital experience.

Anyway, this dose did the trick and finally at 2:40 AM on March 31st, she had her first contraction !! They started with a five-ish minute interval and she felt it more in her back since the beginning. Through the first few contractions, Anabelle helped her with her literally magical gentle Aromatherapy massage, which she also taught me but I obviously got it wrong (can almost see all the dads high-fiving 😁). Now the whole rest of the night was contraction – doze – repeat. This cycle repeated every five minutes and soon it was the end of sleepless night no. 2. By morning, the intensity of the contractions was much less. Either that or Anchal had become a pro at handling them!

Day 3: The whole day there were contractions every 5-10 mins. It was a rather slow progressing labor which demanded extreme patience. Until the evening , she could talk and/or breathe through the contractions. After that however, the backache during each of them became more and more unbearable. Augustine then helped her with some crazy acrobatic positions with swings and couches and some inversions that looked like pseudo head-stands😁
I was seriously in awe when I saw how this woman could manage to do all these things while in the middle of such extreme pain. Shortly after, Anchal moved into active labor. While these inversions and the funky positions definitely helped her with the backache for an hour or so, it came back by late evening. Augustine did an internal exam and figured out what was causing so much back pain. We had a Sunny side up baby – meaning that although the baby was in a head down position, he was facing mama’s abdomen instead of the back. So with each descent, his skull bone would put pressure on her back causing this exceptionally severe pain. Another major reason for a hospital to do a C-section. But of course, this incredibly skilled team even had a solution to this !!

The next 20-ish contractions were the hardest to watch. For me personally, this was the single most painful hour in the whole journey. The team wastrying to help her remain in certain positions through some contractions while they would jiggle her back or do some exercises that could possibly help turn the baby’s head into optimum position. “Wow, you can do that?” I exclaimed, while Anchal literally cried in pain. These positions were the toughest to bear the pain but she still had to remain in them. It was so hard to watch her in that much pain, with her knees bent on the bed and palms on the floor with like 4 people surrounding her and rubbing her back and holding her and moving her from side to side. I had to finally look away and even get out of there. In my head, I was yelling at the team and pushing them out of the room, because for some time I got really mad at them for being so “experimental” with her (sorry ladies 😁)
Though hardest to watch, this was also the thing I am deeply thankful for. To me this was like witnessing the epitome of skill when it comes to child birth. I really feel no other place could manage this “turning the head” part.
This was the start of the third sleepless night in a row. It feels exhausting to even write about it now 😁. Post midnight, Anchal kind of lost all her will and kept chanting “I can’t do this”, so Meghana gave her what Anchal calls the “magic talk”. She calmed her with her soothing conversation and reminded her the importance of taking it “one contraction at a time, one breath at a time”. She also suggested she take a warm shower which Anchal reluctantly said yes to but the shower worked wonders!!! She got a pause from the contractions for some time and even got some rest.

At around dawn, the baby’s heart rate was monitored for 10-15 minutes and it showed that he responded well to it. But it’s us, how can there not be yet another challenge?😁
15 minutes later when Augustine came in for the next check on the baby’s heart (this had been a routine for the past 2 days), it had gone down to the 70s from the normal 150s. Another shock!!! And of course another reason for a        C-section !!
This fetal distress or bradycardia, which may have been from mama’s lying down position or the water coming out, was a really alarming situation. The team immediately started intrauterine resuscitation. I was all dumbstruck seeing the team swiftly come in and put Anchal on O2 and IV fluids and moving Anchal on to her side.
Our little hero too worked hard alongside mama and her team and finally the heart rate went back up and stayed fine. By this time, having seen so many challenges in her labor, Anchal was really exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally. I had lost all positivity too to be honest. But she was still sailing through it like an iron lady. We were informed that another dip in the heart rate would mean an emergency transfer to the hospital. However, thankfully this was the last complication. Or was it? 🤔

Finally at around 8 AM on April 1st, came the pushing stage. Again, this wasn’t how we had imagined it to be. Having been taught that lying on the back is not an optimum position for pushing, I always wanted to catch the baby while she pushed him out squatting or on all fours !! Well that’s obviously not possible with two NST belts around her belly and an IV line poking her wrist and with the risk of a dip in his heart rate and so much exhaustion. So lying down it is.

Oh my God, she screamed her head off pushing him out. Or as Augustine reminded me, she roared like a lioness to draw power !! I have never heard any human being call out any louder ,ever in my life. Period. She however had a rhythm established. Contraction – Roar – Push – Sip of water – Back rub – Rest- Repeat. At all times, the team was even ready with suction, forceps, episiotomy equipment and everything but our little hero was as determined as his mama. After what seemed like an eternity of this pushing (which was actually an hour and a half), a tiny sliver of baby’s hair was seen, Finally the first visual😍 A few contractions later, I could see a small part of the head squished like a sponge ball come slightly out, and then go back in, and out and in and out and in and finally out. And guess what, he was no longer sunny side up, kudos to team TBH.
And then out came these hairy monkey shoulders, trunk and legs. Finally we met him !! I couldn’t stop my tears now. They placed him on her immediately. Believe it or not, for like a couple of minutes, we were so engrossed in just looking at him slowly opening his teeny eyes and seeing his mama who was finally feeling so relieved, that it never struck us to even check what kind the baby was till someone from the team said “Don’t you wanna know the gender”? 😁

And that’s how we met our son!!

Even if it wasn’t quite like we had planned, it was a life changing experience and it brought so many teachings with it. We can never forget the journey and all the challenges it posed. Abnormal bleeding, slow tiring labor, posterior positioned baby, fetal distress, being this close to a transfer – the list of reasons for a C-section just didn’t stop and yet somehow this team of magicians and this amazing mother-son duo managed a natural, vaginal birth. After seeing the strength and power they possess, I have now gotten a whole another level of respect for my wife and womankind in general – imprinted in my heart forever !! Witnessing a childbirth firsthand is an experience of a lifetime and I think every father should do it.

Lastly, a huge huge THANK YOU to this wonderful, unbelievably awesome team. Really blessed to have them and utterly grateful to them. I won’t be wrong if I say these ladies were not just care providers to us but also psychiatrists, physiotherapists, nutritionists, masseuses, teachers, comedians, photographers and who knows what more. Take a bow, you Goddesses 🙌🏼
We three love you !!