The month of July 2010 was one of the toughest periods I've ever had to face.
This pregnancy in any case had been a turbulent one. The first few months were bad - it was surprising for me, considering everyone always said a second pregnancy is significantly easier. Of course, what we didn't know at the time was that it was a twin pregnancy.
The week that we discovered it was a twin pregnancy was Week 20 - we went through a range of emotions, from shock to elation to worry to fear - and almost complete despair when we were wrongly told that it was a monoamniotic pregnancy - which usually means a survival rate of 50% for the babies. A final ultrasound by the best ultrasonologist in Delhi cleared that one up.
The last few weeks of the pregnancy were difficult in a way I hadn't experienced before. The babies were growing quite well for twins, but their combined weight was bearing down on me and hurting me, and it was all terribly uncomfortable.
But all this was a breeze compared to the month of July.
The reason I am writing this post is to remind myself of a few things that I learnt during that time.
So on the 2nd of July, I had an ultrasound that showed that it was unlikely that I deliver before end July.
The next day, I saw that I was bleeding - it was 8.30 a.m. on a Saturday, and I had been woken up by Peanut, who sort of kicked me awake and then went back to sleep herself. I went into the bathroom, saw the blood and told Vijay. Two hours later, we were in the hospital. The doctor said she would like to do a C-sec, though she had always said till now that we should try for a normal delivery.
In the OT, the anasthesia started to work, but suddenly I started to panic. I felt like I couldn't breathe and felt extremely claustrophobic and frightened. I started chanting the names of my three babies and calmed myself down. A short while later, I could feel a weight being lifted out of my body, and the doctor held up Pickle and said 'It's a boy'. One minute later, I felt some more weight being lifted out, and the doctor held up Papad and repeated 'It's a boy'. They were brought close to my face, and I felt a huge gush of relief. But I could easily see how tiny they were, and it was scary. They were 2.1 kgs each.
The next few days were tough. The babies were in the nursery and I was on bedrest. After the first day, I started to go and visit them every three hours to feed them. My doctors weren't happy with this, but the neonatologist was adamant about not sending them to my room due to the risk of infection. I was taken there on a wheelchair each time and each time, everybody would stare at me, and check to see if I still had my legs. I made a game out of it soon, and would stare back and remark loudly to Vijay - 'look at him! look at her!' - and even count out loud all the people who were staring at me. '1...2...3...oh, look another, 4...'. It was funny. For a while.
The babies had jaundice. Common enough. But the levels that Pickle were reaching were not common. His bilirubin count reached 18.5 one day, and they prepared him for a blood transfusion, because above 20 means possibility of brain damage. So it was terribly scary.
He was under phototherapy for many days. Seeing him lying there like that, naked under a bright white light, always managing to struggle and pull off his blindfold - and my being unable to breastfeed him for a couple of days - was really awful.
In the meantime, my condition wasn't improving. The pain in my abdomen continued. I developed a fever. Basically, there was something wrong and I was constantly on antibiotics.
Finally, after 10 days in the hospital, we were discharged. I was still not well. Antibiotics continued at home through IV - but an ultrasound then showed the large blood clot inside that was pressing against various organs. Two days later, I was readmitted to another hospital and a surgery was carried out on the 16th of July - a mere 13 days after the C-section to remove the clot.
My sister-in-law - Vijay's eldest sister - performed the surgery. Before the surgery, she had got various tests carried out, which included an MRI. I wasn't prepared for what it would be like and when I was inside the machine, with the loud noise, and my nose anyway half-blocked as usual, I started to panic again. I never realized I am actually semi-claustrophobic.
Anyway, after the surgery, this time under General anasthesia, I woke up in a lot of pain and screamed for my husband. He was brought there and I was crying, for a variety of reasons. After this surgery, the pain in my abdomen was almost completely gone, but I was terribly weak.
During all this time, I had periods of hallucination. I could feel myself blacking out. I was too weak to go to the bathroom by myself or bathe. Through all this, Vijay never left my side and tended to me and basically nursed me back to health. My mother, sister and the rest of family were all there too but Vijay was unbelievable. I really lucked out with this marriage. Must have done something right sometime. Must have been in a previous birth, don't remember doing anything that great in this one!
However, this time round, the twins were admitted in the hospital with us. It was great to have them with us in the room - but it was also not great because it was far more tiring to manage everything. Well, I was only feeding them, Vijay - with help from my mother when she visited, and of course, his brother Ajay- did everything else. But by this time, I had been in the hospital for so long that I was even more depressed, cranky and overall emotional. Plus, the first surgery had the carrot of removing two little babies and bringing them into my life. The second surgery was to get out a not-that-attractive 200 grams of clot plus 200 ml of blood. It gave me huge relief, but the infection continued for many days after that, too.
A hundred injections. Being away from the babies. Pickle's jaundice. The pain. Being away from Peanut. Being away from home. Blood tests, urine tests. Being on a catheter. Having a drain pipe attached to me, which drained out the remnant blood after the surgery into a bag that I had to carry around with me even once I was able to walk. The hallucinations. The frightening feeling of almost blacking out. The yelling at members of my family who were only always trying to help. My abusing the doctors as I came out of GA. This and much, much more. All this was the month of July.
And then I became better. I am home now. Things are still terribly chaotic because Vijay's mother is very, very unwell. I don't have full time help for the twins yet. We are a lot of people staying in a 2-bedroom house. But still. I have my health back. It is amazing to feel healthy.
Simple things mean so much now - Being able to walk around without pain and discomfort. Being able to feed the babies in the comfort of my own home. Being back with Peanut and spending loads of extra time with her to make sure she adjusts well to the babies. Being able to just breathe in and out. Fingering my surgery scar and feeling it heal. Not having that damned canula stuck to my hand. Being able to take a long, hot shower. Eating a Peanut butter and Jam sandwich instead of hospital food. Not having to remember which antibiotic to take when and forgetting what 'OD, BD and TDS' mean. Not worrying about bilirubin counts and other blood counts. Not having IV antibiotics three times a day. Taking a walk in the park. Lying next to my husband instead of alone on a hospital bed with him on the uncomfortable attendant's sofa. These and a hundred other things.
And yet, it's so easy to forget what it was like, and to get bogged down by the various daily issues that we face. This is just an attempt to try and remember one simple thing: without your health, you have very little. So I try and celebrate a little everyday now, even if it's only a couple of minutes in my head of thanking the universe that today I have my health. It's an upredictable life. So basically try to be less stupid about letting the little problems overwhelm you, and just remember how good it feels to feel this way.
That, and the fact that I have a great family, especially a great husband, mother, brother-in-law and sister-in-law.
Just lucky, I guess.
So that's what July 2010 was trying to tell me.