Thursday, September 10, 2009

Uski Rukhsati

Uski Rukhsati.


"Still no movements from the baby?", I asked the would be mother at 8 months of gestation.

"No, and the doctor before you said the heartbeat is getting slow also...whats going to happen? Am I going to have surgery?", asked the 27yr old primi [first time pregnancy] anxiously.

We shall call her Zarin.

"Let me see, but don't get scared, don't worry till we have to because your worrying is bad for the baby ok?",I cajoled.

"Ok but you see please...and please check my Blood Pressure...the nurse was here earlier and she told me it was 160/100mmHg and I am ok...I feel fine so I don't see how my B.P would go so high. Please doctor...?"

"I will do all that and more, but I want to give you ten minutes to calm down first ok? Now, fold your knees to relax your abdomen and I'll just check your baby's heartbeat ok?"

As I had trust issues, even with high tech machines like the CardioTocograph [fetal heartbeat monitor] I listened to and counted the fetal heart beat myself with the aid of my trusty stethoscope. The baby's heartbeat was there but lower, slower. Nowhere near the healthy 140 beats per minute it should have been and lesser than the previous night's 120 bpm. Now it was only around 100-105 bpm, something requiring immediate Caesarean section to deliver the baby but at eight months and suffering from IUGR [Intra Uterine Growth Retardation] would it survive? Not here for sure, it weighed only 1485 grams and the ideal weight for full term babies is more than 2.5kgs. Plus the reason for the IUGR had not been diagnosed yet, but we were to send Zarin for specialized ultrasonography in the morning.

She and her husband seemed so nice. She tried to lighten the mood, make conversation... "Are you married Doctor?"

"Oh no Zarin. Not now and I don't know when because I'm just not ready!", even the thought of marriage freaks me out completely.

"Why?? Ohhh You have someone don't you??", she squealed excitedly.

"Yeah...I do..."

"How long??"

"Five years."

"And you still don't want to marry him?? Why not?"

"It's not that I don't want to marry him...I do love him and will probably marry him one day eventually. But I want to be sure of him. I don't know if he can't live without me. I know I feel empty without him but I have career goals and so does he. We're happy and still comitted, you getting me? B.P's ok Zarin, nothing for you to worry about. 140/90mmHg, sleep will help lower it further and we'll give you something for your anxiety ok? "

"I think it already must be true...or else you wouldn't be with him for so long would you? Plus men aren't as expressive about their feelings as women are...but once you are married and leave him even for a few days...he will call you to come back! My husband did...!"

"I don't know Zarin. But when I do get married I will find you and tell you how it worked out ok? Now get some rest. I'll be here all night and will come hourly to check on you and your baby. You know the drill, you feel anything bad you call me stat ok?"

"Ok, thank you doctor! Good night!" One couldn't stay detached from a patient like that. A person like that...



"Prep the patient, get the OT nurse, Room 4 patient needs an urgent LSCS [Lower Segment Caesarean Section] baby will be shifted to Fortics NICU [Neonatal intensive care unit.]."

It was the end of my shift and as I said goodbye to Zarin and wished her the best for her surgery, I wondered how it would go. Turned out the baby was very sick with a chromosomal defect. Generally with these kind of major genetic defects, the fetus is spontaneously aborted three months into gestation, but this pregnancy continued too far. The spaces in the baby's body were filled with fluid as we had found out on the ultrasound that morning. Brain cavity, abdomen, chest, lungs. There was kidney failure added to all that. Chances were slim, for survival. But we had to try our best.


As I relieved the evening shift doctor I asked him anxiously about Zarin and her baby.
"He was born alive, but didn't cry. There was a huge swelling on the right side of his chest. He didn't he was intubated and put on a ventilator and taken to the NICU. He lived till around 4:00 PM. Then he went. Mother is fine, depressed but physically ok."


"No.Just lying there."

So there I stood, out side Room Number 4, with my hand on the door handle, my heart racing and my face burning. What would I say to this lady? I knew nothing I said could comfort her. I didn't know how to start.

Step forward.
Step back.
Step forward.
And enter.

"Hey Zarin, how are you doing?", I said with a dull smile.

"Oh hello doctor...I am ... are you?", she responded with a smile that did not reach her eyes.

"I'm ok. Let me examine you just a moment..."
Physically she was fine.

"Ok...any your... abdomen?"

"I can't feel that pain Doctor. Mere dil mein itna dard ho raha hai. ", she replied, sadly.

"I...know, I heard. I'm so sorry for your loss. What...if you would like to talk...what happened?", I ventured cautiously, knowing she hadn't cried but needed to. She was quiet for a few minutes. I took a seat next to her.

"Do you think it was my fault?", she asked quietly.

"NO. Why would you think that...?!", I replied aghast... This was the last thing she needed on her mind.

"The nurse in Kashmir said that something was wrong internally. Meri saas ko lagta hai ki shaadi se pehle hi mere mein koi problem thi, koi she is regretting her son's marriage to me."

"Your Saas needs to go out and educate herself. And you need to quit bothering about what an illiterate woman lets out of her mouth. Aap toh padhe likhe ho, you know better. Don't let her get to you. Abhi aapko yeh sab nahi sochna, abhi aapko bus theek hona hai. Samjhe?", I was incensed on Zarin's behalf.

As if daughter in laws didn't already have to hard enough. Working to keep everyone happy including the husband. With everyone ready to misunderstand her and sulk at the drop of a hat. Including the husband.

"Maine dekha tha usko. Ladka tha na...meri shakal thi, poori. Ussey bahar le ja rahey they, toh dekha tha maine uska chehra. Woh dekh raha tha mujhe. Maine dekha. Maine dekha...."

I reached out quietly and gently rubbed her back, before she started to get passionate.

"Din bhar woh Us doosre hospital mein tha na...NICU mein. Mere husband they uskey saath. Main baar baar soch rahi thi, phone kar rahi kya hua, kaise hai...kareeb 3:50pm pe mere husband yahaan aaye...bataye ki mere bachche mein kitne tube aur pipe lagaein hain, uski kidney bhi fail ho gayi hai, uske sir mein, pet mein, chaati mein paani bhar gaya hai. Apne aap woh saans bhi nahi le pa raha hai. Mujhe, pata nahi kya hua....humein laga tha ki shayad bahar aayega duniya mein toh khuda ko manzoor hoga uska jeena...par aisa lag nahi raha tha...", her voice cracked, as did her composure...

I sat silently, watching her face, my hand on her back, trying fultilely to sooth her...

"Main apne aapa kho baithi aur maine bola...maine agar khuda ko manzoor nahi hai uski zindagi toh kyon zabardasti usko tadpa rahe ho? Kyon itne pipe, itne tube, itne machine? Azaad kar do usko, in bandishon se buri kar do ussey...chale jaane do usey...usey jahaan khushi milti hai...mujhse nahi dekha jaata aise... phir 5 minute baad hospital se phone aaya ki woh mar gaya. M-Mera bachcha mar gaya...Aisa laga jaise woh mere liye ruka tha...Duniya se apni rukhsati ke liye meri izazat ki raah dekh raha tha...Ab samajh mein aaya ki maa aur bete ka kya rishta hota hai...ab samajh mein aaya mujhe...", she finished, sobbing into my Lab coat.

And try as I did I couldn't stop the tears burning my own eyes and overflowing. I couldn't stop them and so I cried, albeit quietly, as I held her and helped her cry. I let her cry and didn't tell her to stop. Most unprofessional of me on many counts but she was alone. Her husband wasn't around...

"Maine dekha bhi nahi usko...usko husband ne dafna bhi diya hai...mujhe dekh lena chahiye tha...mera husband bahut ro rahey they...abhi woh ghar gaye hain, bahut dukhi hain."

"Haan...shayad aapko dekh lena chahiye tha... Lekin aapne toh dekha haina...aapne toh uski aakhon mein dekha hai...jab woh tha, zinda tha...vaise hi yaad rakhiye.", I said..trying to console her. But my words sounded hollow and empty to my own ears. I knew there was nothing I could say that would help. I had done all I could.

I didn't have a child. But I had my dog. She and I were buddies and she was the reason I was able to live alone, in a city like Delhi. She was the one who came to me when I was sad, she was the one who waited for me to come home from work everyday. She was not just a dog for me, she was my little girl, my baby and I knew I wouldn't last a day without her. When she was sick I couldn't sleep. I know the analogy is poor, but I love my dog no less than I love the members of my family. That is something they don't understand really and it no longer matters. Point is...I would shatter if anything happened to my little one.

That Zarin was still alive and breathing in and out...seemed miraculous to me.

She had been given a tranquilizer, but it had not kicked in. She cried and somewhere along the way she fell asleep in my arms. I dared not move. Why wake her and bring her back to this living nightmare? Sleep was better. I don't know how long I held her. I don't know how long I cried for her. I should have been used to this by now. I was usually so detached...from such situations but she seemed alone and so lost. My conscience didn't permit me to leave her.

The next morning she was better, having tea. Upon hearing my shift was ending she started to cry again. I left her my Mobile number and home address, again completely against protocol but at this point she didn't need a doctor. She needed someone to talk to.

She was discharged that morning.

I left for home.

********************************************************************************** EPILOGUE:

That night I went to bed with tears in my eyes.

I went to bed because I couldn't stop those tears and there was no one in my life who would understand those tears. I couldn't understand them. Couldn't stop them.

I dreamt I had a baby girl, with my boyfriend's big, kind, chocolate caramel, round eyes and my thick black eyelashes. I don't remember her face as clearly now, but I still see her eyes, her lashes.

I knew my dream would fade, in hours or days. I would forget I had such a dream, had a baby. But mine was a dream...

Could she? Forget that glimpse, that sliver of her baby's face, his eyes?

I would pray for her. Pray she had many, many beautiful, healthy this one would seem like a faraway dream in some long lost time.


13 lost souls found themselves in my mirror....:

ruSh.Me said...

I guess, it could be classified as Nature's Survival of the fittest.. A weak human being, would not survive; therefore its better to let Nature take its due course; Obviously, she would not forget the baby's existence.. He was inside her, growing, being a part of her.. Probably, Time would make her forget, or may be if not forget, lessen the intensity of pain..

I wonder, would her saas be still so upset, if she had given birth to a baby girl??

Anonymous said...

You know I am someone who never really felt so strongly about these abortions and still births,I mean I would not get so upset over them but today reading your post left tears in my eyes.

Zeba said...

Touchy. Loved the way you narrated the incident/ story. Long time. Where have you been?

CoFfEe AnGeL said... : Her saas and no one actually knew the sex of the baby [illegal]...they were cursing her anyway.

CoFfEe AnGeL said...

@ pg : Neither do i pg. Have seen so many but...this one affected me maybe bcos she was alone n i was her doc. in college its different...we're a big group, not much personal interaction. this was sad.

CoFfEe AnGeL said...

@Zeba : Zeba my internet was disconnected due to some billing errors. am back now!

Smitha said...

That was heart wrenching.. Loved the way you narrated it..

I just can't imagine what she must have gone through... More so with the little support she has from her family..

Little Girl Lost said...

after all these months, you are still the only one who can make me cry.

come visit, won't you?

CoFfEe AnGeL said...

@Smitha : Well her hubby was nice but himself quite sad. her mom came over from she was there all the time.

CoFfEe AnGeL said...

@LGL : IDK whether to be flattered or sad :( but i will come visit~!

Pesto Sauce said...

Doctors get to touch so much of life, witness to so much pain and ordeals

CoFfEe AnGeL said...

Pestosauce : everyone does PS, but yes, maybe docs get to see more of this stuff. makes other petty stuff irrelevant.beings things into perspective.

sulagna ™ said...

this was like reading something that happened to me a year is very very very well written...