Of course, her supportive husband was always around and made sure she had everything she needed. “I didn’t have to tell him to pamper me. He was always by my side and made sure I always ate healthy, took my vitamins and drank plenty of water. Funnily, I never had any cravings,” she says. Of course, the wedding preps were in full swing, and by the time Nikita approached her third trimester, she began feeling a bit nervous. “That was when I began talking to my baby. I’d tell her every night before going to bed, to come meet us just after the wedding. But, of course, life is unpredictable and we needed a plan, just in case she decided to show up during the wedding.”
Nikita has her marital home in South Mumbai while her parents live in the suburbs. Wedding time meant the family would be in that part of town. “We finally decided to book two hospitals, one in South Mumbai, and one closer to where my parents stay. We also consulted with two doctors and explained the situation. They were more than accommodating. My last conundrum was if I should get something stitched for the wedding, and if yes, in what size! This made me try and talk to my baby even more, hoping she would listen and stay inside my belly, just a little while longer,” says Nikita.
By the 10th of November 2016, Nikita had entered her 38th week of pregnancy. A routine checkup was in order, and Aakesh accompanied her to the doctor’s office. “After our sonography, the doctor informed us that we wouldn’t have to wait much longer to meet our baby, as my amniotic sac was riding low. It was anytime now. She advised us not to wait for my water to break as my baby’s weight was not in keeping with the gestation period. She has a slightly low birth weight. So, after some thought, we made an appointment to get induced. On the 11th of November, 2016, we headed to the doctor’s clinic to take the tablet that induces labour. Then, we headed back at around 3.30 p.m for the second dose and we even got us admitted in Saifee hospital. However, I didn’t feel any change. In fact, I spent the day laughing with my cousins. Then, I went about my day, did my pelvic movement exercises. By about 6 p.m, the doctor came in for a routine checkup and induced me again. Still, an hour went by and there was no change. Just when I thought that I wouldn’t deliver my baby, I began feeling mild contractions,” recalls Nikita
Her contractions were 20 to 30 seconds long, and came at intervals of one to two minutes. “Aakesh was timing my contractions on an app he downloaded. Since we were still a little while away to welcoming our baby, Dr Isha suggested I do a few squats and pelvic exercises to help prepare my body for delivery. Then, by about 8.30 p.m my contractions began in full swing. They were more intense and the pain was getting unbearable,” she recalls. However, Aakesh was by her side the entire time, and coached her through the contractions. “While Aakesh was around, he did keep a bit of a gap between us because at some point during my pregnancy, I had joked about how one woman had unintentionally slapped her husband when she was in labour. I think he was afraid of getting slapped as well,” she jokes.
While her contractions kept intensifying, at 10.30 p.m when the doctor came in to check her, she realised that she was on dilated three cm, and that she still had a long way off. “I begged the doctor to do a C-section as I couldn’t take the pain. But she was adament and insisted on a vaginal birth. She even promised that I would be fi t enough to attend the wedding I helped so much with. I begged Aakesh to keep her around and not send her away. Finally, when she came in again to check me, I was dilated 10 cm, and it was time to be wheeled into the delivery room. But, by then, I couldn’t take the pain and I wanted an epidural to be administered. She tried to explain that it was too late now, but I refused to let her touch me till I was given the epidural. Finally, after I was administerd the shot, I could feel that pressure lessen. But, I couldn’t really feel myself push, and a vaccuum had to be arranged to help deliver our little princess. Finally, a little shy of midnight, on the night of November 11th, our baby girl Annika was born. Nine months of carrying her, four hours of labour and our little princess finally made it into this world. Aakesh was now the doting dad and was even more thrilled as Annika looked just like him. Our family was now complete. It was the three of us. But our journey into parenthood had only just begun,” says Nikita.
My baby and me
“After bringing Annika home from the hospital, I was a little worried about how I would cope. Fortunately for me, she was no trouble at all. I had to feed her every two hours, but she didn’t cry. She was perhaps one of the quietest babies I’ve ever encountered. Her first week home from the hospital was a breeze. The rest of the month featured in exactly the same way. I wake up to nurse her every two hours, and even before she’d cry, I would feed her. I thought, ‘This is easy. I’ve
got this!’” she says.
But, Nikita was accustomed to being surprised, and after Annika turned one month old, things started to change for Nikita. “Annika developed colic. This meants that she’d be up most of the night. Surprisingly, she didn’t cry. She’d just be restless and awake. She constantly needed to be carried. I even took to nursing her just as a way to keep her comforted,” explains Nikita. That’s also around the time Nikita began cluster feeding Annika. “For close to two or three hours, Annika would be latched on. My back was constantly aching but more than the pain, I was just worried about my supply. I was in constant fear that I wouldn’t produce enough milk to feed her growing appetite. I even tried pumping to try and gauge how much milk I was producing but somehow, breast pumps didn’t work with me and I’d express only about 30ml. After consulting my antenatal expert, Dr Isha, she referred me to some reading material, and encouraged me to keep going. I have her to thank that for the past 11 months, I’ve exclusively breastfeed Annika. Yes, I have begun weaning her but she doesn’t get any top feed. Just breastmilk,” says a proud Nikita.
And as always, Aakesh was her constantly pillar of support. While he didn’t help with the dirty diapers, he made it a point to spend quality time with his daughter, and even offer Nikita would words of love and encouragement, whenever she was ready to give up. “He even motivated to begin working, just so that I could be productive and not obsess about every little thing related to Annika. When she turned six months old, I began doing some freelance work, just to keep myself occupied while she napped,” says Nikita. Nikita is a proud mumma, and dotes on her beautiful baby girl every chance she gets. “Annika is growing up a little too fast. I just wish she stays this tiny and innocent for longer. But, it’s also a wonderful thing to see her discover the world around her. Everyday is a new experience. Her first word was mumma. She’s even said papa on a few occasions, but she knows that whenever she needs anything, she needs to call out to her mumma. Lately, she’s started to walk. Of course, she’s holding the furniture for balance and support, but her tiny feet are getting stronger every day,” says an excited Nikita.
What the future holds
“Before Annika came into our lives, I was a rather impatient person, constantly worried about what would happen next. Annika taught me to slow down, and take things as they come. It’s because of her that I’ve become calmer, and patient. It’s made me realise that things are so insignifi cant, and that relationships and family is what truly matter. As parents, we want to do our best to make sure Annika knows that she’s immensely loved, and that there’s nothing stopping her from achieving her dreams. We just want her to grow up into a strong, independent and compassionate human being,” says Nikita, with a sense of pride. | MB