~ Rumi’s Birth Story ~

In honor of Rumi’s first birthday, I’d love to share her birth story <3

On the afternoon of Thursday, March 10, I finished up a big work project and felt a sense of relief that I could start my maternity leave. That evening, I took Leela for a long long walk in the stroller along the Dumbo waterfront. She was 20 months old. I remember her saying “helicopter” for the first time and being impressed. I felt that bittersweet tug that these were our last days alone together. I held Leela tenderly that night and put her to bed.

In the evening, I went to the gym in our apartment building and bounced on a yoga ball. I wanted to have the baby before her due date of March 15th because I wanted a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) and I knew the doctors would start breathing down my neck post due date.

After bouncing on the yoga ball, I went to the pizza shop on the corner. I had heard an old wives tale that eggplant parmesan can bring on labor, so I ordered one. I went home and had my eggplant parm and some very very mild contractions started that night. I gave Karan a heads up but assured him that we were nowhere close.  My sister had a baby the week before and was in the hospital for 24 hours of labor so that was playing on my mind.  I did finish packing up our hospital bag, and Leela’s bag for going to grandma and grandpa’s house.

That night I continued to have contractions and mostly slept on the couch. For some reason the couch was my happy place throughout the pregnancy for sleep. It was a fairly restless night of sleep but contractions were very irregular and spaced far apart.  They could have been braxton hicks for all I knew.

On Friday morning around 7:30am I called our doula to come over. She probably arrived around 8:30. And then our nanny also came around 8:30. Karan went for a dentist appointment in the neighborhood at 9, keeping his phone on. I was still working on the assumption that we had a long day ahead of us. The doula and I went back on the gym to bounce on the yoga ball. I wanted to curl up in bed, but her thought was that we wanted to have this baby.

I think from this point forward I was delirious and lost track of what was happening, in the sense that my judgement wasn’t sound anymore. And things started to move really FAST. We went back home. I was in active labor. Karan was on the phone for a book interview, which we obviously could have interrupted. Leela was around with our nanny. I went to the bathroom and looking back, I think I went through “transition” but I just didn’t know to call it that. My water never broke, by the way. I emerged from the bathroom and told everyone – we have to leave NOW.  It was time to GO GO GO.

We scrambled to grab our belongings, Karan called the hospital to say we were on our way, I was like “CALL THEM FROM THE CAB WE HAVE TO GO!”, we got in an cab (or Uber? I don’t know. All I know is that Karan has screened the driver to make sure he was up for this adventure of having a very pregnant lady in his car. Which he was.) Now we had to drive across the Brooklyn Bridge to my hospital in lower Manhattan.

I love the Brooklyn Bridge. I have run across it so many times in my 10 years of living in New York. I never expected to drive across it as the pregnant lady who might be about to have her baby in the back of a cab! It occurred to me – if there’s any traffic or an accident and this drive takes more than the 10 minutes it’s supposed to, we’re in big trouble. But it didn’t. We got to the hospital quickly.

I was in a bit of a panic at this point. The security guy at the hospital entrance asked if I needed a wheelchair and I told him – we don’t have time! I threw my insurance card at the lady at the desk. And they checked me in. My doctor came. And I was 10 cm dilated! 10 cm plus 1, to be exact.  She said, “I’m sorry I can’t offer you an epidural, it’s time to have this baby!”

Karan cheered me on and made sure everyone in the delivery room knew that I had run marathons and climbed Kilimanjaro and when I complained he reminded me that this was the vbac I had wanted.

We had arrived at the hospital around noon and Rumi was born within the hour. Sweet, sweet Rumi.

Rumi had her cord around her neck and wasn’t breathing properly when she was born. So the amazing hospital staff swept in. They let me hold her for all of 10 seconds before rushing her off for breathing support. I somehow knew she was going to be ok. (Maybe it was the confident tones of the doctors.) But I was very very grateful to be in the hospital. My doctor assured me three times that I hadn’t done anything wrong by coming in so far along, which was really nice to hear.

After my time in the recovery room, they wanted to get me set up in my hospital room. But I wanted to see Rumi before I got all settled in my bed. So they wheeled me to the NICU to see her. Then they made a fuss that wheelchairs aren’t allowed in the NICU. So they had me walk over to see her, and I promptly fainted. Maybe from walking immediately after giving birth, or maybe from seeing her all pale and hooked up to tubes and wires.

I went back to my hospital room, a little shaken up. For the next two days – I did a LOT of pumping. 12 times a day. And hand expressing colostrum. And I watched a season of House of Cards. And I sent Karan out for burgers and milkshakes from Bareburger. If I recall correctly, Rumi was first on a feeding tube, and then they gave her some formula and my colostrum for feedings. But we weren’t breastfeeding yet because of all the tubes and wires. She ripped her breathing tube out of her nose after the first night. She was a little champ.

We didn’t have Leela come visit us in the hospital, because it was too far from New Jersey for my carsick toddler and because of the NICU situation.

I got to hold Rumi a bunch on Saturday and I think we did a little bit of breastfeeding. But honestly we all rested most of the day.

On Sunday, they told us Rumi was likely going to get checked out from the NICU. We had hardly interacted with this baby who was under such intensive care for 3 days … and they were sending us all home!  It seemed like there should be an intermediate step between getting released from the NICU and getting discharged from the hospital, but there wasn’t.

We took another cab home with our precious cargo and settled in. My parents brought Leela home on Monday and that was really the sweetest moment ever to see Leela’s response to the baby. She was that little bit young to really explain to her about a baby coming, but it was like all of the pieces clicked together when she saw Rumi.

Rumi has been the sweetest most cherubic delightful easy baby in the whole world. (Aside from those first weeks of no sleep which I’ve sort of glossed over in my memory but were very real!) When she was 3 months old we took a 2-week family vacation to the beach, something we would have never done with Leela when she was a baby. When she was 4 months old she got her first passport. When she was 7 months old she took her first flight – which was 14 hours long – and she got to fly in style business class for our move to India! She has transitioned so well to India – some coughs and colds and sniffles but she is a strong, happy baby.

Rumi, lots of love and blessings to you on your first birthday. We love you!

“Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.”

– Kahlil Gibran