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Sherrie Banerjee |
December 10, 2003 17:47 IST
You have been part of my imagination for the last five years. I thought about you every day -- about how you would look, how you would smile, how you would feel in my arms…
Our story begins in the United States of America, in Atlanta, with your dad and me. Both of us want to pursue our careers, so we put you on hold until we are ready to have you in our lives. Then, for three years, we try to have you. Each month brings with it a fresh disappointment that only makes our yearning for you stronger.
We are willing to do everything we possibly can to have you. Both of us go through a battery of tests that robs us of our self-esteem and nearly tears our marriage apart. Even that does not help the doctors figure out why you are not in our lives as yet. Finally, they diagnose it as a case of 'unexplained infertility' and give me drugs that they say will improve my chances of having you. I dutifully follow their instructions for three months but you are still elusive.
The fourth month is the last chance I have for the drugs to work. The next step is 'in vitro fertilisation' or IVF. I think in dread of all the permutations and combinations of painful treatments that may help me have you. My dreams flicker and become faint. I try to think of life without the promise of you but fail miserably to accept that as a possible reality. Emptiness gnaws at me. Your dad tries to cheer me up with expensive vacations, jewellery, a dream house, success at work… but nothing can make up for the misery of not having you.
Luckily, the drugs work in the fourth month. I am thrilled the day I discover you have started life within my body.
Other than fatigue, I have none of the symptoms that characterise pregnancy. Yet, after all the disappointments, I am finding it difficult to believe my good luck. I count each day for the first three months -- I know this is when miscarriages are most common. I bury the secret of you within myself; I don't dare tell anyone other than your father in case I jinx you.
After three months, you are still intact in my womb. I weep with happiness when I see you in my first ultrasound check-up. I learn that you are a boy. I cry so much, the nurse thinks she has done something wrong. I am so happy. My colleagues at work say they can see the 'glow' on my face. I know it is all because of you.
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Just when I think things are going smoothly, I am diagnosed with hypertension. There are still two months to go before you are scheduled to arrive in this world. I am asked to stop working immediately. I go on maternity leave and keep calculating how much time I will get to spend with you before I have to return to work. Soon, I realise these calculations could be meaningless -- after all, who knows when you will decide to enter the world.
I am on bed rest; my only job is to provide you with a safe and nourishing environment in which you can grow strong and healthy. I worry about your well-being and wait for your punishing kicks on my rib-cage; they signal to me that everything is all right with you.
You are ready to arrive in this world three weeks before schedule. The delivery is going well. Everything seems normal. Suddenly, something goes wrong. An emergency surgery is needed to get you out safely, but the doctor who is in charge injures your head in the process.
Bleeding, sewn-up, exhausted, I am wheeled into the post-surgery room. I don't see you until the next morning. You are in the emergency room, hooked up to machines, with tubes in your head. I am terrified; I think I have reached the end of the journey only to lose you. Those memories still continue to haunt me even today.
I return home from the hospital without you. My heart is breaking. I have never known pain like this before. I can't stop crying. I can barely walk after the surgery, but I limp to the hospital every morning and afternoon for the next 10 days, watching you every minute I can and waiting for them to release you.
I am terrified the nurses are not feeding you right. Many doctors make many conjectures about all the things they fear may be wrong with you. Each speculation sends a chill down my spine because they mention consequences that are too horrible to imagine.
Finally, the tests are done. They don't have an excuse to hold you any longer. You come home, a tiny, frail bundle for whom I feel love and fear simultaneously. The doctors never apologise for injuring you during the delivery, for being wrong in their diagnosis or holding you hostage in the emergency room for 10 days. In the months that follow, they still try to poke around and find something wrong so they can justify our ordeal and deluge of tests they subject you to.
Finally, we fire the hospital doctors and find a new doctor who is unbiased and not trying to substantiate a faulty hypothesis by using you as a laboratory rat.
You are now eight months old and have exceeded my dreams. You are such a sweet-natured, intelligent and cute baby that everyone stops to look at you on the road. I love everything about you -- the way you sing yourself to sleep, the way you grin from cheek to cheek and show your tiny teeth, the way you smile back at every stranger, the way you suddenly say 'Ma.' You have transformed me from an ambitious, hard-headed career woman to a nurturing, giving mother.
I still dream about you. I also enjoy holding you in my arms where I want to hold you forever. Promise me the road ahead will be smoother than the one that we have left behind. And please make the nightmare, where I feel I am losing you all over again, go away...
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh
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