Thursday, September 18, 2014

Miracle Babies!

I have told this story to many people and always noticed a certain disbelief in the listeners' eyes. I understand why. The story is dramatic and if you don't know me well, rather unbelievable. But it's true. It's the story of the birth of my son Atreya.

I was 16 when I first had to take steroids to control my irascible asthma. Every year after that, I would get sick in April and would be on steroids for 3-4 months. During the rest of the year, some 7-8 months, I would be on heavy doses of oral broncho-dilators.

When I was around 19, I understood that the medication I was on would not make it possible for me to have kids. It just didn't seem possible for me to be off steroids for the required 10 months, a necessary condition during pregnancy, and even if I avoided them somehow, the heavy dose of broncho-dilators was bad for the fetus too. So, I closed the chapter and stopped thinking of having a regular family. That was fine at that time, because although married since I was 18, we were young and busy and rather poor.

Then at 25, something happened. I suddenly became obsessed with babies. I would be watching TV and something as mundane as a young boy wrapping his arms around his father's back would set me crying. I started stopping to play with every baby and young kid I would meet. I felt tugs in my heart that I could not explain. I had visions of a baby crying in the heavens (yes I mean that) and asking me to let it arrive. The baby cried a lot. I cried even more.

But as is my wont, I don't take defeat easily. I decided to have a baby. My mother, as always, accepted my decision despite all the problems she knew I faced. My doctor, a good friend of my mother's, told me to come see her when I have reduced my regular broncho-dilators from four tablets a day to one tablet a day. And she said that the only safe period for me to conceive was a month after I stopped steroids, ie August- not earlier, not later. That would give me about 8 clean months until the next April when I would again need steroids. But she said all this with great reluctance, and added rather harshly that I was being a fool and that if something triggered an asthma attack during my pregnancy, I should not expect her to prevent a serious problem.

Now, I had no clue how to fix my problem. I was seriously ill and had been most of my life. Broncho-dilators kept my airways open until April every year, after which prednisolon took over. I would be gasping for breath without these life savers. How could I reduce this dependence?

At that time, my MIL convinced me to try acupuncture. For almost a year, I went to GK daily to get acupuncture done by a doctor, spending all my money and free time in the quest for reducing this drug dependence. I started taking long walks in the IIT campus, where we had an apartment, to lose weight and increase my lung capacity. And for the first time, started focusing on myself, watching for triggers and avoiding them. And what a delight when I finally could reduce the broncho-dilators to one a day.

Now on to the next challenge- conceive in August! I mean how ridiculous that sounds. People try for months or even years before they can conceive, and here I had just a month, which means just 3-4 days in which to succeed. If I didn't conceive, I would have to wait for next August. Like hell I would wait!

Let's not get into the details of those 3-4 days. Suffice to say we were like rabbits. We happened to be in the Valley of Flowers on a trek in August of 1992 and I believe Atreya was conceived on the way back in Rishikesh. When I tested myself using an off-the-shelf pregnancy kit back in Delhi, my heart was in my mouth. When I saw the result, I left my lab at IIT Delhi without a word to anyone and went straight to my gynae, without an appointment. I still remember the disbelief in her eyes.

Well, I had the best 36 weeks of pregnancy- no nausea, no illness, no asthma. I felt fitter than I had ever felt and so happy that it gives me goosebumps to remember that state. Then around the 36th week, Atreya decided he had to come out, so he stopped breathing and was birthed by C-section on April 14, my mom's birthday!

Such a smart baby, because by April 18th, I was in the throes of the worst ever asthma attack.  I was so sick that at one point, my mother called my dad, who was in Srilanka, telling him to be prepared for the worst.  Had Atreya been inside me at that time, I don't think either of us would have survived.

Now, isn't this the most delightful unbelievable miracle-laden story. Atreya had to be born. I had to be his mother. The impossible had to be made possible. So, all obstacles vanished for the time required. The mountains parted and made way for me to walk through them. What a miracle!

Both my babies, Atreya and Aloka are miracle babies. I wasn't and was supposed to have them in my life. Truly they are gifts beyond reckoning from a very compassionate universe. They define who I am and tell me, am I not so very special to be defined by miracles? 


  1. ok....I am the one who always read your blogs and never leave any comments. Mostly, becoz I am not as good with words to describe the impact it has on me. But when I was reading this one, I could feel the goosebumps on my neck and the corners of my eyes got wet. So deep...

    1. Thank you anonymous. I love comments. So please leave them when you feel like. :D

  2. I would love to, just cant reach that depth and words to justify them..
    aradhana : )

  3. That does make you a miracle mom! :)

  4. Very touching. are an amazing person puja....renu

  5. Amazing. .. really a miracle.