Tomorrow will mark five whole years since my little Karthik came into this world, nevertheless I remember every single detail of my pregnancy and his birth like it was yesterday. I can’t really say that I enjoyed my pregnancy with Karthik, but having him here makes everything that I went through worthwhile. He is kind, funny, smart, always smiling, and loves informing everyone of fun facts that he has learned (kind of like Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory haha). Over the past year I have watched him go from being my baby, to a responsible big brother, a kindergartner, and a team player on a soccer team. I love watching Karthik learn and grow and I know it sounds cliché but I honestly cannot believe that he will be five tomorrow.
When Akshaya was born, all I could think about was giving her a sibling to play and grow up with. She was the only baby on my side of the family and I felt that I would be depriving her of the awesome childhood I had with my sister (15 months younger than me), if I didn’t give her a sibling. However, I was still a full-time post-secondary student and knew I needed to focus on graduating school before adding to our family. I mentally planned to start trying for baby number two in January of 2012, once I had completed my last semester. Instead, God has His own plans and Karthik was conceived sometime around our first wedding anniversary in August of 2011.
With the hustle and bustle of being a full-time post-secondary student, tutor, wife, and mother, I never suspected pregnancy and could swear up and down to this day that I never missed a period. We would only learn of my pregnancy when I was at the hospital for an unrelated event. One day in late September of 2011, I woke up with notably swollen fingers. I went ahead with my day thinking I had suffered a minor allergic reaction to a chemical I had worked with in the lab the previous day. Once I had gotten through my lectures and performed my laboratory exercise, I noticed the swelling had worsened in my hands and that my fingers were beginning to feel numb. That night I left my then nine-month old daughter with my parents and headed to the ER with my husband. By this point, I was losing mobility due to severe inflammation in my knees, ankle, and feet and had to be pushed around in a wheelchair. I was hooked up to an IV and given an adrenaline shot with the perception that I had suffered a severe allergic reaction. To my surprise, routine bloodwork came back revealing that I was 6-8 weeks pregnant. The doctor mentioned that because I was spotting, I would probably miscarry and need to come back.
The pregnancy and probable miscarriage came as a big shock and my husband and I decided to keep the news to ourselves instead of telling family and having them worry as well. Long story short, I did not miscarry and what I was suffering from was a lupus flare, unknown at the time. My doctors and specialists could not explain the swelling in my joints, my face and tongue even though I was in and out of the ER for almost two weeks. I was prescribed 75mg prednisone for a month and then 50mg for another month before being tapered off for the remainder of my pregnancy. You can read more about my lupus diagnosis here. Fortunately for me, the steroid helped keep the inflammation down and baby Karthik seemed quite unbothered by anything that was happening around him.
Because of the undiagnosed and untreated lupus flare, I had residual pain in all my joints for the entirety of my pregnancy. There was a lot of crying due to pain and just being overwhelmed with having to take care of Shakthi who was just a baby. But as much as I cried I was thrilled to be adding to our family and giving my daughter a sibling. Originally I had hoped for another little girl so that the two could be best of friends but I was over the moon when we found out we were having a little boy. Knowing I was going to have to raise a boy was slightly daunting because I already had developed high hopes for the kind of man that my boy was going to be.
My OBGYN mentioned that I had placenta previa (a condition in which the placenta blocks the birth canal) and would most likely need a caesarean-section. I was kind of happy when I heard that because after my induction, labour, and premature delivery with my daughter, I thought a C-section, where I got to go to sleep and wake up to a baby, sounded pretty wonderful. I couldn’t imagine pushing out a baby with my achy joints and frankly I was terrified at the thought of having to do that. However closer to my due date, my placenta shifted along with my growing uterus, allowing me the opportunity to choose a vaginal birth. I think by this time I was feeling somewhat better because I opted for the vaginal birth and even decided that I wanted to give birth without any form of pain-relief. My husband was convinced that I had lost it by that point but in all honestly I felt that I was missing out on the whole natural experience of childbirth, if I didn’t do it med-free.
Since I was in pain from swelling, my OBGYN suggested an induction around 37-38 weeks but I wanted to let nature run its course. To be honest I was petrified of having to be induced a second time. By May 1st, I was 2cm dilated and having irregular contractions. My OBGYN had me admitted in the labour and delivery ward thinking labour would progress but it didn’t so I was sent home with instructions on what to look for and when to come back. On May 2nd I was back in the hospital with irregular contractions and I had dilated to 4cm. The doctor on-call had me walk around the hospital and up and down stairs to bring on labour but the contractions stopped and I was sent back home because I refused an induction to speed things up. During the days leading up to Udayan’s birth I was having a lot of Braxton Hicks contractions so on May 8th when I started to have contractions I didn’t think too much of them and neither did my husband who had left with a few of his friends. That day, I was slower than usual but I finished all my chores, took Akshaya for a walk in her stroller and packed her overnight bag. Looking back, I suppose that was my nesting instinct kicking in.
By 11pm my husband had made his returrn home and fallen asleep. I was pretty uncomfortable but felt too exhausted to go to the hospital so I decided to get some rest and go to the hospital the following morning. Karthik however did not want to wait, and my contractions were all of a sudden a little less than two minutes apart. I called my mom to give her a heads up and she came to pick us up and drive us to the hospital. By then I knew that Karthik was making his arrival sooner than later and once we rushed to the hospital I was prepped for delivery. I think I did pretty well managing the pain of the contractions for the next couple of hours. Everything happened so fast and after just a few pushes, Udayan Karthik was born in the early hours of May 9th, just a week shy of his due date which is also my dad’s birthday. I assumed Karthik would be bigger but he only weighed 6lbs and 9oz. However, he was super hungry and started feeding almost right away. I had an episiotomy and 27 stitches to repair the cut but I was so happy that I couldn’t stop smiling.
My pregnancy wasn’t ideal but I wouldn’t change a thing about Karthik’s birth. I love that I was in control and confident about giving birth and that I had the opportunity to experience the birthing process in all it’s glory. My children’s birth stories have been requested more times than I can count so I’m quite pleased that I finally had the time to share Udayan’s birth story. I know a lot of you have already heard this story and to the ones that haven’t, I hope you enjoyed reading it. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below or send me an email! I’m going to end off this post with something Udayan says, Girls are stronger than boys because they carry babies in their tummies. 🙂
– Modern Day Brown Mom
Click here to read Achyuthan Vishnu’s birth story.