He accompanied me for 6 months to Wharton classes. He heard all the world class professors. Friends joked. “This one is Abhimanyu. He is going to learn everything there is to know about Marketing, Entrepreneurship and Finance”. He even walked with me on the graduation podium to collect the hard earned diploma.
He went on walks with me. I took him to the beach. So, he could hear the sounds of the beach even before he saw the beautiful waves.
He heard me sing and talk to him throughout the night. I winced throughout the last 3 months he was within me because his kicks were much more vigorous than his elder brother’s kicks.
Then, he was born. A Born Leo. It was a very normal delivery.
I was getting ready to leave the hospital and come back home to help Adi get started with his first day of school. 24 hours after he was born, everything started going downhill. His blood sugar dropped. There was “some” problem with his breathing. So, they started poking him (just 1 day old) to keep monitoring his blood level. It tore my heart. Then, they told me that he can’t go back home. I didn’t understand. What the heck did they mean by “He can’t go back home with you.”
He was mine. He was mine to keep. He was mine to raise. He was the one who was destined to stand beside my pyre and cry the loudest.
I didn’t understand what they meant by “He can’t go back home with you.” Then they told me. He had aspirated during his birth. He had to be moved to Lucille Packard Intensive Care. He had to be monitored. There was “risk” involved.
Every time I find myself in a stressful situation, a sudden calm takes over me. The brain takes control.
Suddenly, I was not in a rush to go back home. I used all the communication and persuasion tactics I had ever learnt. I told them “I am not leaving. Not without him.” They took me to the room where he had to be placed in an incubator. He had to be poked to put the IV in. They were gentle. They told me “Please mom, you delivered a baby. Your mind and body are tired. You won’t be able to see us poke him for the IV. Can we please accompany you outside this room?”.
In a calm tone, I responded. “I am not going anywhere. Through rain and shine, through sickness and health I am going to stand beside him. I will sing all his favorite songs that I have been singing for the last 9 months. I will hold his tiny fingers to calm him. Then you can poke him for the IV.” They obliged. I sang. They poked. There was not a peep from him.
For the next several hours, my eyes were stuck on the monitor that tabulated how good his oxygen levels were. Whenever I blinked, I felt guilty. I couldn’t rest. I shouldn’t. So, I watched the monitor like a hawk.
After many hours, Kumar convinced me to go back home and rest. That was the hardest ride ever. There was no tears. Only a very heavy heart as I got into the car and realized that the car seat was not holding him for the first car ride home with mom. I went back home and rested.
I took Adi to the first day of his school. I even humored Adi with the annual tradition of dipping his footsteps in rice flour and making him walk across the door step to make little Krishna steps for Krishna Jayanthi. Daddy and my dear friends Revati and Jagan provided incredible emotional support.
After a couple of days, the doctors gave the green signal. There was no infection. His lungs were clear. He could come back home. We brought him back home.
Then, for many months, Kumar and me would lie awake to ensure he was breathing normally.
Till today, the most precious thing in the world for me is to see his chest move up and down…rhythmically..slowly but steadily…as he falls asleep.
The little man grew up to be the one with the kind heart, shiny eyes and the naughty grin. He is most certainly the precious gift that God decided should stay with me.
He is mine. He is mine to keep. He is mine to raise. He is the one who is destined to stand beside my pyre and cry the loudest.
Ari is turning 5. Please shower your blessings on the naughty young fellow who holds my heart strings in his little fingers.
My heartfelt thanks to all of you who commented on this thread, called me or messaged me saying this story was touching and inspirational. Thank you also for confiding in me your “parent-child” experiences. Here is my 2 cents (for whatever it is worth). This story is inspiring and touching not because it is Ari’s or mine. It is very inspiring and touching because it is also YOUR story. It is the story of you staying awake and holding your child through out a sickness. It is the story of every parent and the special bond that they share with their child. It is the story of feeling a special bond with your spouse, your family, your community…because you realize we are all in this together. It is the story of feeling vulnerable and strong…all at once. It is the story of humanity’s struggle to protect its off-spring and send them forth to a brighter and happier world. It is the story of nature manifesting intelligence and kindness. We are the generation that is holding the baton to raise the “next” generation. I wish all of you good luck with your parenting. Stay Strong.