Sunday, October 14, 2018

Third Trimester

As much joyful was inching towards meeting our son, equally excruciating was every hospital visit. We were clinically supported , but always yearned for the much needed physical presence of our families which no amount of technology and virtual communication could replace. The stress was immense and no matter what I did: meditation, The Kapil Sharma show or re-runs of Friends I hardly slept. At one point the line between sleep deprivation and depression was a blur (it still is). At the beginning of 7 months, I went in for one of my doctor's appointment at MHH. After going through my reports, he asked me if I was carrying along my hospital bag. I had one but at home. He asked if my husband could pick it up since I was to get admit right away until the baby was delivered. On asking when, he replied soon since he was very doubtful if I would make it to full term. I asked for a day. I went back to my lab, finished my work for the day, organised my experiments and wrote e-mails to my colleagues requesting them to pitch in and finish the ongoing work, which they were nice and gracious enough to accept.

I got admitted the next day.  The next weeks in the hospital made me write down two things, put it in a locker and safeguard it for the rest of my life. One: "If you have written a birth plan, just shred it." Two:  "Never judge a Mother".  I was surrounded by so many women who had faced insurmountable challenges to protect and bring their babies into this world that my own struggle seemed infinitesimally small. It took unexplained courage to hold a still born or continue to visit a 350 gm baby everyday for months in intensive care. I could hardly complain. Each morning, all I did was pray and ask God  to keep my baby inside one more day so that he was given a fair chance to develop. My unborn son had already made a Mother out of a Woman and nothing  can get crazier and sometimes  irrational than a Mother's love. Sometimes, I would abandon my thinking cap and ask myself if more was indeed better?  If staying longer inside the wrecked me would actually help our son or it was best for him to arrive early before it was too late? And the doctors would frown (reasonably) when I questioned  their ability to make that decision at the correct time. It was hard but eventually, I let go. In a way it empowered me, to  leave the decision to our baby. As long as he kicked me awake during midnight and his heartbeat on CTG (Cardiotocography. Measures fetal heartbeat and the uterine contractions during pregnancy) soothed my worried soul, his mother promised to love and cocoon him.

I got some steroid injections to mature the baby's lungs, in case he arrived earlier. I don't fear the needle. God knows how many times this body has been prodded and blood drained in this lifetime. But these ones were painful. Now I believe that our kids are sent to us for a reason. My son is so unique, precious and beautiful that he deserved parents who could love him despite all the hurt.

As I entered the 8th month of pregnancy I was discharged. But I was inching so close to my maternity leave that I had tonnes of professional commitments and could hardly sit. When it looked impossible to achieve alone, Dear Husband joined board . Every evening after his work and all the weekends thereafter he joined me in the lab and together we  handed over everything, though already 15 days into my Maternity Leave. I tell my husband that falling in love with me was the easier thing to do, but still staying in love with me is one of the toughest things he is doing. The last 8 years demanded of him by far the greatest strength of character a man could display.  This is true now and will always be.

The physical demands of pregnancy combined with work  was pretty overwhelming. But my eye disease was the real jerk. It surfaced on its own whims and fancy. Due to sporadic bouts of inflammation and continuous use of both oral and topical steroids, my eye pressure was now getting bonkers. I was at a point where I took 14 medications per day and possibly didn't want to add anything else to the list ever again. But my failing body had destroyed my will to wish and I accepted whatever life threw my way.

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