Sunday, June 10, 2018

Second Chance

Flashback, November 2016: I fought back tears as the doctor told me that the 11-week-child I was carrying in my womb had died. She feared the onset of sepsis and said I needed to get an emergency surgery. I told her there was a wedding in our family in a week's time. Could I wait? No! I sat in the car and sobbed. I apologised to my husband. He said it wasn't my fault. In less than half hour I had to lecture students at MSU. He told me he'd call up the dean and cancel it. I told him not to. We went home and I broke to news to my mother-in-law and then ran out to the car. My husband dropped me at the university. I climbed the stairs, broken. Thankfully, there was no one in the staff room so I sat there staring at the wall processing what had just happened. The dean walked in an apologised for taking longer than her allotted time. She said she'd given the students a 10-minute break. I didn't mind. I summed up all my strength and entered the classroom. I have never been bothered about the students' attendance because I teach only those who want to know and this time I was really glad that only half the senior masters' class had turned up after the break. I started haltingly, hoping I wouldn't break down mid-sentence. We discussed how videos turn viral and I gave the students a home assignment. Some of them wanted to linger and have a conversation after class. I even laughed when they made jokes. This is what teachers do. We leave our personal tragedies outside the classroom. The next day, I was ushered into the operation theatre to remove the remnants of the foetus. My body hadn't realised that the foetus had died so it took a while for it to recover from the shock. The death of a child, even an unborn one, can be devastating. It took me months to recover emotionally. Then life gave me a second chance and I now have a bouncing baby boy.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Flashback June 2017, USA: Travelling in Early Pregnancy

I threw up a perfectly good plate of pasta among the bushes that line the sidewalk of a fine dining Italian restaurant in Fort Lauderdale. Next day, at an Italian restaurant in Miami, I looked for sauce-less pasta dishes. The lemon juice-garlic sauce-seafood pasta with no cheese, went down my gullet. We flew back to Detroit from Jacksonville and my sickness kept worsening. I was throwing up about six times a day and couldn't stand the smell and sight of cheese, bread, fries and chicken. Unfortunately, that's what American food is about. We drove northwards to Traverse City along the shores of the 1000-metre-deep Lake Michigan (which they call the 'Ocean') and my stomach could not even take water. I panicked. And then I miss my period! This wasn't a combination of altitude sickness, motion sickness and jet-lag. There, in a hotel in America's cherry capital, I found out I was pregnant and the cause of nausea. Next week, in Chicago, I battled sickness riding atop a sightseeing bus by popping the OTC-drug Dramamine. On the way back to Ann Arbor, there's a classic traffic jam on the Interstate and it took us seven hours to do a four-hour journey. My uncle called his GP when we reached home. I told her of my plans to travel from Michigan to Maine. She told me I should continue travelling, the walking would do me good. I asked her if I should see a gynaecologist. She said I would have to wait a month for an appointment because of the July 4 holidays even though I was willing to shell out as much as $500 for a single visit. I texted my gynaecologist in India. She told me to eat anything I could swallow and chew ginger. My condition of debilitating nausea she termed as Hyperemesis Gravidarum. I googled and found it was not uncommon. Relief! Cousin and I decided to fly to Washington DC instead of an 11-hour road-trip. I walked everywhere - museums, galleries, gardens, markets, malls - and tried to eat only desserts because salt was triggering my nausea. The gigantic portions of food made me sick - just the sight. We travelled from DC to Philadelphia to New Jersey to New York. I skipped dinner so I could watch The Phantom of the Opera at Majestic Theatre on Broadway. In Maine, I asked our cousin to prepare egg curry for me for four meals because only that I could stomach with a spoon of icecream. I hated American airports because they smelled of fries and I was so glad to leave them behind when I finally landed in Paris and smelled perfumes in the air. I returned to India having lost 5Kg (a rare feat for anyone travelling in the US for six weeks) and went straight from the airport to the gynaec's table. "Baby is fine." Those three words were the sweetest I had heard. And apparently, the nausea was a sign that my hormones were functioning very well. I wouldn't recommend long travels in early pregnancy, though.