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‘Zindai Chakki?’: Why Life After C-Section Isn’t Same for Kashmiri Women

‘Zindai Chakki?’: Why Life After C-Section Isn’t Same for Kashmiri Women

“My children are now growing up and I sometimes wish for a third baby but due to the scare of C-section, I avoid third pregnancy,” Aarizoo said in a remorseful tone.


One morning, a week before her due date, Aarizoo’s labour pain started. She called her doctor, who advised her to get admitted to a private hospital in Srinagar.

At the hospital, she was given injections for inducing labour pain. An hour later the injections kicked in, Aarizoo started yelling due to pain. By noon she was tired and feeling too hungry, as the doctor had asked her not to eat anything. 

At 5 pm that day, her doctor came and announced that the patient will have to go for C-section. 

“She didn’t even explain why I couldn’t have a normal delivery,” Aarizoo recalls. “It was too sudden and I wasn’t ready.” 

Expecting a normal vaginal delivery, Aarizoo wasn’t given a choice. Doctor’s sudden decision traumatised her. 

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Even after nine years today, Aarizoo remembers how anxious and lonely she had felt despite her family being there. “No one was talking to me or making me calm. Everyone was busy. Some were getting things for baby and some were arranging things for me.”

She went to the washroom with her mother and started crying. “I didn’t want to go back.” But her mother held her in her arms and solaced her.

Aarizoo thinks had she been counselled about C-section, she wouldn’t have been that scared. 

That day, her husband, Mubashir, was at Delhi airport. His flight was delayed. Before she was taken to the theatre, she talked to him. “We were both crying on phone. I told him I missed him and he said he was sorry for not being there.”

Spinal anesthesia for C-section. / web archives

In the theatre, she was given general anaesthesia. And then, she woke up to some woman slapping her and repeatedly asking, “Zindai Chakki?” Are you alive?

“I was listening to everything but wasn’t able to open my eyes,” she said. “I mumbled something and the woman said to others that I was fine and needed to be shifted to my room.”

Aarizoo could hear people around her celebrating and saying, “mubarak”, to each other. “No one told me how my baby was or the gender of my baby, as I couldn’t open my eyes due to anaesthesia.”

She called her mother and was told that she gave birth to a boy. Half an hour later a nurse brought the baby. Aarizoo fed the baby but didn’t see him. “I saw him around 11 pm from a distance because I could barely sit because of pain as anaesthesia had started wearing off.”

Aarizoo says, her son was too weak, but he was the “most beautiful baby” in the world.

The next day, in the morning, a nurse came in and made Aarizoo stand forcefully. She was too weak and fell to the ground. The nurse instead of helping started scolding her. She didn’t even let Aarizoo’s mother help her, saying, “I know how to do my job.” She was ‘very rude’.

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Later that day, when Aarizoo held her baby she forgot all the pain and trauma she had gone through. “He’s the greatest blessing I’ve ever had.”

After her surgery, Aarizoo got enough time for recovery. Her mother and sisters helped her in taking care of the baby. “I had incredible support from my family.”

Aarizoo has complete rest for six months during which she only held her baby for feeding.

She had her second baby two years after the first one. She wanted a normal vaginal delivery this time too, but her doctor told her “that was not possible” because her first one was born through Caesarean. 

This time Aarizoo was given an epidural, instead of general anaesthesia. A screen was put in front of her, so that she couldn’t see anything. “Doctor had to put two curtains in front of me.” 

She was so scared, she says, that even though she couldn’t feel or see anything, she could still imagine what they were doing and that thought terrified her. She was screaming all the time during surgery. She remembers all the nurses laughing at her instead of consoling. 

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And then she heard a cry. That’s when she stopped screaming and asked the nurse about the baby. “I asked her how the baby was and whether it’s a girl or a boy,” Aarizoo says. 

“She didn’t answer me instead she asked me whether my firstborn was a girl or a boy.”

“I said a boy.”

“She said, ‘Then it’s okay. It’s a girl’,” Aarizoo recalls.

As if it wouldn’t have been okay, if the firstborn was also a girl, she says with a broken heart. The nurse showed her the baby. “She was the prettiest girl I’ve ever seen. She had long black hair and she was crying so loudly.”

Cherished moment for any mother. / web archives

After the second C-section, Aarizoo’s heartbeat was abnormal and she had to see a cardiologist for a few months. 

Second C-section, she says, makes you weaker and takes more time to recover. “I once tried to pick my baby [almost two years after surgery] and as soon as I stood up, I fell down.”

Almost a decade since Aarizoo’s first C-section, she still can’t stand for more than 15-20 minutes. “When we buy chicken, we get 4-5 at one time. So, my husband washes more than half of it because he knows I can’t stand for a long time.”

There’s another unwritten rule at Aarizoo’s home, if she has to lift or move anything heavy, she will wait for her husband. “I can’t even lift the small boxes of rice and dal (lentils), that we generally have at home.”

C-section causes severe hormonal imbalance in your body. Aarizoo has had serious migraine for three days during her periods. She prefers sitting in dark and not talking to anyone during those days. She even has haemorrhoids during her periods.  

“My children are now growing up and I sometimes wish for a third baby but due to the scare of C-section, I avoid third pregnancy,” Aarizoo says in a remorseful tone. 

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