She came into our world on the 30th day of October 2001.A day like any other, and yet not quite. For something warned me, an unfathomable feeling, that things were ‘not all right’.
A day prior to her birth Dr S, my gynecologist of 9 months fell ill and was admitted into intensive care. In just over few hours, my case was transferred to her aunt and I had a brand new gynecologist. At that moment, I had little choice, just a host of unanswered questions. Would Dr M, my doctor of just 24 hours be patient and empathetic? I didn’t have a comfort level with her at all. Overall the prospect was strange and daunting.
She was born via a caesarian section because the scan revealed I was close to an uterine rupture and the foetus was in distress. Things seem to move too fast, too soon for me to assimilate and comprehend. Post surgery, despite the sedating effect of the anesthesia, I gazed at my fragile and beautiful new born and held her in my arms, close to my heart.
And I felt a sense of deep dread.
My first night, post birth, was spent alone. The baby was in the nursery. And I was in a room with many others with no space for an attendant. I had no fear, just the fatigue that ensues after birth. The nurse brought me my baby for her feed. I held her close, inhaling her baby fragrance and smoothed her curly hair while I basked in the feeling of being a mother all over again. And then it hit me, in waves, the unease and fear that seemed to smother and gag me.A strong feeling from deep within, of wanting to reject her, to push her away from me. And a sense of sheer helplessness. Exactly like what my pet cat would do instinctively to the weakest of her litter knowing that it would not survive. I felt it but did not know how to act upon this feeling. My baby returned to the nursery and I drifted into a disturbed sleep.
The next morning I shifted to a separate room with my baby. Hard as I tried to push away the feelings of the previous day, some part of me continued to dwell on it. And yet I dared not mention it to anyone lest they thought I had lost it. Soon after, Dr.B, her pediatrician whom I had known since my first child’s birth came by on his daily rounds.
Before he could ask about the baby or me, I blurted out, “Something is wrong Dr B. I don’t know what it is but...something is...”!!!
He didn’t scoff or look like I had gone crazy but reassured me instead, “She looks fine Mrs. Kumar. There doesn’t seem any cause for worry. I’ll check her up anyway”.
I looked on while he examined her in her cot. After a slow and thorough checkup, he told me the baby was fine and that her Apgar scores at birth had been absolutely normal. I was too tired to persist with the agonizing questions. He said he would drop by later and walked towards the door.
And then, just as he was about to step out, he turned, walked back towards me and looking a trifle unsure, asked, “Would it be all right if I took your baby for a 2-D Echo checkup? I felt a heart murmur just now. Murmurs are very common in new borns and 80% of the time I ignore them. But something here tells me I shouldn’t.”
I nodded my head in agreement. My baby was whisked away for the tests. I was alone in my room with the empty cot beside me. Half an hour later, there was a knock at the door and a pediatric intern walked in. In the most clinical tone that he could muster he informed me, “Your baby has a rare congenital heart defect and we have had to shift her to the neo natal ICU.She is now on a respirator”. My heart stopped and my mind raced with questions, doubts and yet more questions.
Then, Dr B entered looking worried yet confident.
I asked him, “How did you find out?”
He replied, “I just trusted a mother’s intuition”.
I wrote this prose piece for a writing exercise on "Paranormal" for a Writers Network.It is a real life situation.I am glad I could write it as it is cathartic in many ways.