Sunday, 4 December 2016

The Miracle - Kicks and Tickles

About three weeks into my second trimester, the throwing up stopped. And I slowly started mustering the courage to step out of the house. Earlier, a 10minute stroll at the park of the HDB we stayed at, would make me dizzy, and I would scurry home to find respite over the toilet bowl. But now, I was managing to sit for an entire movie in the theatre (yes, I'd be prudent and take the aisle seat, just in case I felt uneasy).

And so, over time, it turned out to be the best trimester ever. I was able to eat whatever I pleased. Well sadly, I didn't really have any major cravings throughout my pregnancy. During my first, one evening I craved for momos - but by the time, the husband plated them for me; the craving went puff!


Oh I did want mangoes and ice-cream (like in Salaam Namastey) late one evening - so we walked down to the 24hour neighbourhood store and picked these up and devoured some while watching an episode of Game of Thrones.

Alright! You may judge me for the choice of series I was watching. I'd watch Criminal Minds and Code Black etc. And I would be chided for watching "negative" stuff. I'd say - I work in the ER and I see accident victims and "blood" - now do I have to change my job so it wouldn't influence my unborn baby?! Honestly, I would prefer positive suggestions like what I could watch instead. Anyways, for the positivity dose, I was happy and trippy, laughing loads, going out on dates with my husband, catching up with friends and having fun at work too. I listened to good music and ate loads of good food! 

I even did some prenatal yoga with Lara Dutta and meditated to chants and guided meditations on the 'Art of Living' app. We even headed to the beach, and watched the sun set, while kids and dogs played around in the sand. Now baby, that's a fair bit of goodness don't you think? I didn't read you the 'Ramayana' or the 'Bible', but as you grow up, I intend to introduce you to the ever expanding universe of books - so initially we'll read you stories at bedtime and soon enough, you can read for yourself. Apologies if in the dark of the womb, the visuals you saw through my eye weren't necessarily pleasant, but well, welcome to the world little one - it isn't going to be all rosy alright - let's set our expectations right! (Rolls eyes)

Coming back, I had palpitations during my first trimester, so when they were pricking me for the sugar tests in the second trimester, I asked to test for my thyroid function too. Normal - phew! Oh and the glucose test, I had to drink up an ultra-sweet orange flavoured drink - I did and as expected, threw it all up within the next 10minutes. Sigh! - which meant I had to come some other day to re-do the test. Another off day to be spent in the hospital - damn! But alls well that ends well - A couple of weeks later, that came out normal too. Sometimes normal results can be such a relief I tell you! Walking day in day out amidst patients; normal seems uncommon! So I was glad the pregnancy so far was sans any complications :)

Which meant, we could still go on the long since planned family vacation with both sets of parents to Gold Coast, Australia! The excitement kicked in and my free time went in planning for the same. But more about that trip probably in another post, but for now let's just say, that was one fun-filled holiday and a well-deserved break, especially for Prantik and me! 

I was 20 weeks just before the trip and I still wasn't convinced I was feeling any fetal movements. Maybe knowing too much isn't really good in this case - and can even make one paranoid! Obstetrics is a whole subject in our final year of medical school and as an intern, having run antenatal clinics, conducted deliveries over a 4 month period, half of which was in a rural set-up; I was well-versed with the changes in pregnancy, the various milestones in terms of weeks, complications, what to be cautious about in my diet, the entire process of labour etc - even though I did buy into the fad and get a copy of "What to Expect when you are Expecting" on my Kindle - I didn't really read it... Anyways, back to my unborn baby! I was worried as a parent even before I became one. But I tried to remain practical to allay my fears and anxieties so I placed the ultrasound probe on myself, one evening, after my shift. And I could see that the placenta was right in front and well, the little one's heart was beating at a good rate and rhythm (I recorded a small video clip of the same, for memory) and well, there it was - our miracle - floating in the liquor, flinging his/her limbs, "kicking" alright - I probably didn't feel much, as they were being insulated by the placenta bam in front! 

And a few weeks later, I finally felt the little one move about, sometimes just a bit, as though teasingly tickling me and sometimes a flutter, oh so sweet! An effortless smile spreads on my fattening face and then nothing else matters - I know I've fallen, head over heels, in love with the little one - unborn, yet kicking alive, so close to my heart. The palpitations are because of the new love I know and when the little one kicks about in joy, my heart probably skips a beat! ❤️️

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

The Miracle - Fury Unfurls

Everything seemed normal, until at 9 weeks, the pregnancy hormones hit me with vengeance! To begin with, I had real bad gastric reflux, it was like my entire chest and throat were on fire, worse when I lay down and went to bed. But, I still managed to fall asleep, eventually. For pregnancy does leave you feeling fatigued, even if you didn't really do anything to get exhausted! 

But soon, I was puking, non-stop. It wasn't just morning sickness, for me it was worse in the evenings; and well, few days down, it was pretty much all day! I couldn't even hydrate myself enough some days :(

Like one morning, while at work, by a patient's bedside, I nearly blacked out onto his bed! :O And then, I was the patient, resting on a trolley, in my doctor-scrubs! My husband received his first "emergency" call and rushed from a meeting to the ED, to be by my side. Such episodes recurred and I was on sick leave, pretty much all week!

My blood pressure would be lower than normal, making it difficult to stand for too long; soon, I was too sick to get off the couch. I would mumble instructions from the living room, so my husband could stir up simple dinner for us, in the adjacent kitchen. My mum, worried sick herself, flew down to help me recuperate. She made my favourite food items, but I wouldn't be able to keep the ingested food down at all. Few minutes and I'd be hovering over the toilet bowl, emptying my guts out. It wasn't a pleasant sight at all. The husband even brought me my favourite waffles from R.O.D. but those too were thrown up in a few minutes :( The only thing I could tolerate was buttermilk, for some reason, not even juices! So, Pran would hoard cartons of those, in our refrigerator :)

Thankfully, the head of my department was considerate enough to let me take time off work; and I ended up using all my annual leave, to rest up that month. A foolish thing in hindsight - should have gotten to my doctor, she'd have given me a medical certificate/leave, and I would have saved my annual leave, but oh well, no point crying over spilt milk. 

In view of being in my first trimester (when traveling isn't highly recommended, for fear of miscarriage) and the sudden change in my health condition, we had to call off our travel plans. One was to Bali with my folks, to celebrate the younger brother's birthday - even though the booking on Agoda, was listed as non-refundable: upon being informed about the pregnancy, the guy on the customer service end, not only warmly congratulated my husband, but also made arrangements for a full refund. I must admit, that did win them a loyal customer, till the end of time! Thankfully, all the hotel bookings for the Greece trip were fully refundable as well. On the contrary, we lost $$$ on our Turkish airline tickets! Their customer service was shoddy - Sigh!

So that month, a part of me was in self-pity and disbelief, even! I didn't expect myself to be so down and out, that I'd become so dependent...sickness for weeks together can do that to one! Plus, the trips that I had to cancel, had been planned with much gusto, so having to let go wasn't easy either. So, a part of me was dejected infact.

But then, each day, I reminded myself of the miracle that had been conceived with love and the fact that I wasn't alone through these tough times! Pran, my dear husband, was always by my side; he would even spoon feed me - he was at my beck and call every minute, while balancing his work at the same time. My dear mother, who flew down to nurse me back to health; infused me with positivity and good cheer too. There were kind friends who offered to send home food for me; and colleagues who were so mindful of my fragile state and would urge me to take breaks often, and grab a bite or drink, during my shift.

For all the kindness bestowed upon me, I was and will be forever grateful.
Before these tough weeks, we had visited the temple to give thanks to the Almighty. And I knew that 'twas He, who looked after me during these rough times - he dropped angels in my life, time and again, to care for me and caress my mind and soul back to it's happy state. 

And yaay, about 6-7weeks later, my second trimester started, and I was back on my feet again, chirpy and all! :) 

Monday, 21 November 2016

The Miracle - with the racing heart ❤️

So from the day of the first scan, we were more conscious of days and weeks. Physically, nothing much had changed except for no periods (yaay!) and well, slightly heavier and tender breasts perhaps, thanks to the pregnancy hormones. So, life continued, pretty much as normal for the first 4 weeks atleast, since 5.2.16. 

I was working at the time, in one of the busiest Emergency Medicine departments in the country. Being central in location, it catered to a vast population and thus, the place was crowded, all the time! The trolleys were strewn around, and it wasn't easy to move between patients. But, I felt pretty much normal and continued to work as normal, with just as much zest, through my shifts.

And when not working, we caught up with friends and with the latest movies. Over brunch one weekend, we broke the news to our gang of friends. 
(i) We had made the downpayment on our new home-to-be.
(ii) I had made it to the residency programme.
(iii) Dipti is pregnant! (Whoa! What?!)

The elated husband even surprised me post night shift, to a staycation at Park Royal. We swam in the evening, in the infinity pool and had some yummy chicken rice at night, while watching TV from our king size bed. 

We focussed on making time for ourselves and  the tiny ball of cells, which was growing constantly and exponentially - from being the size of a sesame seed at 5weeks, to the size of a lentil, blueberry, kidney bean and a grape, at weeks 6,7,8 and 9 respectively. We went for morning/evening strolls, enjoying the pleasant breeze (also a Chinese New Year tradition for us) and we even ensured we meditated often, even if 'twas just before falling asleep, in our dark bedroom, lit only by the yellow moon above.

2 weeks after the first scan, we had our appointment at the government hospital. And the doppler scan did pick up the heartbeat this time - which meant 'twas a viable pregnancy. Medical jargon aside, if all went well, we'd be parents in another 30 odd weeks! But the wonder of the world, was the sound of the little one's racing heartbeat ❤️ And even when we look back, the thought that the two of us made another, from scratch, is still incredible. The wonders of nature are indeed unbelievably beautiful, to say the least. 

Monday, 14 November 2016

The Miracle - Confirmed

When the sun rose that morning, the rays seemed brighter yet gentler. That kind of happens when you're happy yet unsure of what to do! And well, when it all seems like you're still dreaming. Mornings  usually started with us sharing our schedules, over coffee, determining when we could head out, catch the next movie running at one of the GV theatres etc but that day, we were on our devices, calling for an appointment with a gynaecologist! Never thought, we'd be doing this, so early in our marriage, to be honest! As most young couples, we too intended to spend atleast two years, just the two of us (given our age gap and our respective careers, we desired to be parents before the husband turned 35 and for medical reasons, before I turned 30, the former being earlier). But as the adage goes, 'when we are busy "planning", God is having a good laugh up there!'

So the first thing to be done after a positive pregnancy test, is to confirm the pregnancy by means of an ultrasound; which is why we were calling to secure an appointment. When we called the government hospital, the earliest appointment was over 2 weeks later! Who on earth can contain their nerves until then?! So we called up a private hospital and got an appointment, a couple of days later. 

But boy! Her reviews online were bad! Yes, as a patient I fell prey to the exact same thing, that I vehemently oppose, as a doctor - doctor ratings! Pran, my husband, still holds it against me but oh well, she also had a cold, unflattering face (maybe she required a better photographer or photoshop perhaps) and I wouldn't want my infant to be greeted by that, the first time he/she arrives! Anyways, what this meant was we were back at square one. 

Luckily, when I revealed about my potential pregnancy to my new friend at work, she was elated of course, and suggested that I could visit her mother, who's a gynaecologist! Talk about coincidences! And thus, 2 days later, we were at her mother's clinic. Greeted by a warm smile, she asked a few questions and soon, I had cold gel on my lower abdominal/pelvic area and there it was - the gestational sac! But umm, no heart beat. According to the ultrasound, I was 5 weeks pregnant, which is too early to pick the heartbeat - which meant I needed another scan anyway, 1-2weeks later, to assess for viability. But for the moment, it was confirmed. "We were  pregnant!" or as my husband would break the news later on, "Dipti is pregnant!"

Just as we stepped out of the clinic, waiting outside for our Uber ride, I was on the verge of FaceTime-ing my mum, when I received a call, telling me that I had made it into the Emergency Medicine residency program! 

5.2.16 - It's a double 7 (5+2=1+6=7) and I always liked '7' and I like to think, it's even lucky for me, if such things exist! Irrespective, Lady Luck was indeed, smiling at me! I was obviously exuberant, Pran and I couldn't wipe that grin off our silly faces and when I called mum to tell her the two big updates, I could hear her jumping in joy, tears streaming down in sheer gratitude.

I honestly wasn't sure which made me happier! Both were so unreal and surreal. 
Later that evening, we sat under the moonlight, in silent meditative surrender, sending thankful vibes to the Universe. And even with closed eyes, we could see just one thing - within that black and white image, that tiny little ball of cells, which was just about the size of a sesame seed, quietly growing within my womb...our creation, our miracle. 

Thursday, 10 November 2016

The end of "confinement"

It's unbelievable the rate at which time speeds by. There ought to be a speed limit! But then who will fine who?

Anyways, point being 6 weeks+ have passed since I gave birth to my baby boy, after an arduous labour process that lasted nearly 48hrs! The days immediately following that life-changing event are rather blurred in my memory. The sheer exhaustion that wiped over me was clearly something I wasn't expecting. After the adrenaline of the first few days dies down, and the post-partum hormones hit you with a rage like none other, there is no controlling one's emotions - a true roller coaster ride this. (More about this in another post)

When we hit the 6weeks mark, signalling the end of the "confinement" period, I felt physically and emotionally so much better; but what made this day worth blogging about, wasn't something I did, but instead was about how the little one set me 'free'...
To begin with, I was very fortunate that #AyuBabu (oh yes, that's his social identity 😜) latched onto my breast very well, right from our first skin-to-skin bonding time; and thanks to the experienced care from my mothers, I was producing milk right from the start. Exclusive breastmilk feeding for the first 6 months of life is recommended for all newborns (except in certain medical conditions). But for mothers expected to go back to work, we need to initiate bottled breastmilk feeds after a month (not earlier, in order to avoid nipple confusion). So by 5 weeks, I started pumping out breastmilk and my mother (who's helping us look after the newborn) was handed over the task of initiating bottle-feeds! There were 2-3 failed attempts over the last week, leaving the little one completely annoyed, wailing at the top of his voice, and me, a tad bit upset and nervous at the same time...
But uber thanks to my mum's sheer perseverance, that afternoon, after the initial resistance, there was silence - when I went to peep in - the little one was sucking at the bottle and having his first successful bottle-feed!! The little one is indeed growing up too fast... Tears welled up and even though I was elated at this development, a small piece of my heart was rather heavy - to see your baby step up and get ever so slightly away from you is an oxymoronic moment of melancholy and prideful happiness...

That evening's twilight skyscape (as witnessed from our balcony) was one to behold indeed. 

To mark the end of "confinement"
A sliver of the blue and gold sky
The railings can contain me no longer
A carefree soul, my free spirit shall fly

Another new phase of my life kickstarted that evening, by just the reassuring act of my baby bottle-feeding. It sure did make me realise that babies are really fast learners, but more importantly, reinforced the fact that with patience and love, nothing is impossible. 

Sunday, 6 November 2016

The Miracle - As it hit us

I do have irregular periods sometimes, thanks to stress/hormones/whatever, so that is the reason why I hadn't peed on the stick earlier. In fact, the queasiness I felt, was conveniently blamed on some leftover take-away biryani I had had and the general tiredness, was well obviously because, I was working longer, more hectic shifts, and I was just recovering from a bad flu. But even doctors can be wrong sometimes, y'know! So, out of the blue, that evening, between seeing patients, on a loo break, I decided to do the urine pregnancy test.

Holy smokes! Like lightning out of the blue - thunderstruck! It was positive. I couldn't believe my eyes, so I did it a second time. Positive, yet again! Ok, I was getting light headed and I headed up for dinner, which the hospital thoughtfully provides. I have no idea how I sat through it. I so badly wanted to call my husband up, but I knew this crazy news had to be shared in person! So, I calmed my nerves and took deep breaths, while trying to quieten the butterflies in the stomach, and went through the rest of my shift, as though nothing had changed.

But of course, it had. My feet were unsteady as I traced my steps back home around midnight. I woke the slumberous husband up and showed him the stick (which I had preserved, in a "BioHazard" bag!) For starters, he had no idea, if it was positive or negative :P So, I just told him, and he went all "Huh?!" He snapped out of the disbelief soon enough and hugged me and carried me and what not! He clearly was thrilled! But because I had had some more time to process it, I was crazy nervous already!

Nonetheless, we decided to break the unconfirmed news to our parents. They were surprised of course, to receive a call at that hour and the first thing my mum told me jokingly was "OMG! I am so not ready to be a grandma!" And my in-laws were excited as well, considering it was just a few months since Prantik's maternal grandmother, Didun had endowed us with a beautiful Baal Krishna idol (which in Hindu culture comes with the blessing of "fertility and children").

And thus we went to bed that night...reeling in incredulity and yet in silent gratitude, for the miracle that had just begun to unfold in our lives.

Of course the pregnancy had to be confirmed and all; and in our final year of medicine, we've all answered questions on positive pregnancy tests and the causes etc. It could be any of the other complicated things, which require medical attention; but here, I was fairly well, so maybe, just maybe, God willing, it was none of those and we were in for a crazy adventure, tomorrow onwards! But for now, let's call it a good night! Damn! Can't even cheers to that 🍷

Love at first sight

So, the last I blogged was at the beginning of the year. And then, out of the blue, God (yes, if I am a believer in miracles, I ought to have stronger faith in the Higher Force meting 'em out to me) decided to drop in a seed within my womb!

And bam, fast forward 9 calendar months - and I have a miracle baby boy handed to me in the wee hours of 26th September, 2016. That Monday, was only magical and surreal to say the least, sans any blues.

There's so much to share, to chronicle about the journey that lead to the birth of our little wonder, and the 6 weeks of "confinement" that followed. 

As I type this out, the little one, who we've named Ayaan, is sleeping in blissful oblivion, in his classic 'Gerua' style (Shah Rukh's outstretched arms pose) while I've just put down Jhumpa Lahiri's "In Other Words" - if I can't go outdoors much, nothing should stop me from traveling and transporting myself to another world, as painted by a bestselling author right? 

Ah! The sheer joy hidden in words and lines; faces and smiles :)

Reading; and a recent first meeting with a 'lover of the written word', as she likes to introduce herself as (she had kind words to say about my previous blogposts) rekindled the spark and the itch to write - and of course, the constant nudging by my husband to ressurect this blogging space - landed me here. 

So, here I am. Hoping that I can make the most of the remaining five months or so left of my maternity leave, before I head back to work. While I hope to exclusively feed the newborn, "liquid gold" (as breast milk is fondly called) until then, I also wish to read loads and blog about all the wonderful memories that we weave together. For what is life if not a string of moments - the bad ones leave us with experience, and the good ones, reach the hippocampus, without a doubt. 

Thank you for all the support :) 

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Voyage of a lifetime

Over a couple months ago, I undertook a small voyage of sorts, with my husband, to visit his maternal grandma. Over 80 years of age, she is so gorgeous and beautiful, inside out. With a lifetime of experience backing her, she's seen her life transform literally from riches to rags and back up again. Her story has touches of royalty, disloyalty and everything else that one could possibly fathom. Yet, she remains rooted and is happy with herself; and has found her peace in this home, where other older people, like her, spend their days, in good cheer, together; some even breathing their last.

We flew from Singapore, spent the night in Kolkata, took the train to Berhampore, a cycle rickshaw till the banks of river Ganges, a boat ride across the holy river and finally lugged our bags, on foot, to reach that blessed home - Ananda Niketan.

Grandma or Didun (Bengali term for maternal grandmother), was eagerly waiting at the doorsteps for our arrival. She showed us our room and then took us around, and introduced us to her friends, with utmost joy and pride, even! Last but not the least, she took us to her own room, which she has set up with much love; each corner has a memory, in the form of a photograph, in black and white or a souvenir from elsewhere; she has a prayer corner, a fridge, a TV even. She has a cupboard where she keeps the rest of her stuff, which with passing time, she aims to gift to someone or the other. She also has a whole packet of needles and woollen thread, which she uses to knit beautiful sweaters etc. for a new born infant in the village, rakhis and what not. She has an old Nokia phone (remember the one we could play 'Snake' on) but the network in her room is pretty much non-existent, so by the time she gets to the main corridor with better reception, the call gets disconnected, and she then waits to be called back... We got her a new touch phone, but she is way too attached to the old one, and she thinks 'old is gold', so she'd rather keep the old one itself, one that she is more familiar with. She doesn't really need much; this visit, all she asked for was a magnifying lens, to help her read better! (It's too cumbersome, to head to the opposite bank to get her eyes checked and get a new pair of reading glasses :( ) She was overjoyed, when she saw we indeed found her quite a nice piece of hand-held magnifying lens.


She's been there for years now, and being amongst the older people inhabiting that home, and also, thanks to her regal past, she's more like the queen in that palace of hers. She has a large heart and with her giving nature, there's no reason why she shouldn't be. There is a fixed menu each day, but she would ask them to cook special stuff as we're around. She has people from the village visiting her often, as well. Right from the village doctor, who's retired but offers his services by checking up on the old folks; the village school teachers who hold Didun in high respect; villagers who come to spend the evening there, sharing stories, life stories - most of these are sad yet true stories of young adults not having enough money for higher education, women helpers being beaten up by drunk husbands, families not being able to afford healthcare of a child born with deformities and what not. Didun helps out in whichever way she can. So today, that young adult is attending university; that woman is working at that very home, so she can be financially independent and take care of her children; that infant born with dangling upper limbs, is now a toddler, who plays with toys, with her own very hands, thanks to some pro bono work done by a hospital in Bangalore (plastic surgeons, I've had the privilege to work with as well! - Small world!)

Didun was elated that I draped sarees while I was there; infact, I even wore one, which she had hand-embroidered, inspired by some Gujarati designs that she had liked from a calendar - she had patiently transferred the intricate designs onto a red saree, for her daughter's (my mother-in-law's) wedding, 35 years ago - and here, I was - blessed with the privilege to wrap it around and Didun couldn't stop herself from showing me and the saree off to anyone and everyone who crossed our paths :D Everyone definitely went "Khoob Mishti" ("Very sweet" in Bengali), in sincere admiration of the simple yet stunning work. And the fun fact is that, Didun can still be found engrossed in knitting and what not, under the broad daylight, right until the sun sets, for then twilight marks her television series time :P 

Didun also took us around the town. She took us the old temples, and even pandals that were being set up for the upcoming Durga Puja festival. She took us to archaeological heritage sites - the Hazarduaari Palace, Imambaras (mosques), cemeteries - where Nawabs and Begums lay; and also Dutch cemeteries! Lakes were a plenty and the stories that Didun shared from her childhood and of Murshidabad legends were delightful. They were as though right out of a history book - enchanting to say the least - I've always found tales of kings and ministers, and their many wives and battles - very interesting!

We also visited the site, where once upon a time, "sati pratha" was practised, right until early 19th century. Over two centuries ago, widowed women would voluntarily (or be coerced to) kill themselves, by jumping into the funeral pyres of their (dead) husbands. Raja Ram Mohan Roy championed the cause of banning the practice and soon enough, it was deemed illegal. 
Time has been witness to many changes over its course, and though I began this blog retelling the wonderful things I got to experience and create cherishable memories around, it was to highlight the pretty much awesome time that a widowed, 80 year old woman is having at a place of her choice, a village town she considers home. Yes, she does have a son and daughter, who are both more than capable of looking after her (she is hale and hearty, and is sans any long term medications; she walks independently and does all her daily activities on her own, even today - so not like she really needs much looking after) but she prefers to stay in this peaceful, heavenly piece of land instead, away from the city noise and pollution. She prizes her freedom very significantly; she is at a place, where she can do as she pleases. More importantly, the village town brims with nostalgia for her and why should anyone be deprived of that, while going through what might essentially be the last stage of their lives. Though, years ago, I used to be very judgemental about "old age homes" and people who left their aging parents/grandparents there, this beautiful, heart-warming experience at Ananda Niketan had completely bowled me over. 

More power to homes like these, and the few people who work day in, day out, to help the old people living there. Thank you for looking after our Didun and keeping her happy. Special thanks to the watchguard dog, Bhola (shying away in the pic) who is so calm with the aged people, but can be quite a scare to strangers at the gate! Praying that they can all give each other good company, stay healthy and hearty; and that there shall be only peaceful smiles, when the sun sets...