A Mother at the Crossroads

A Mother at the Crossroads

Hysterical laughter bubbled up within her.

Mita felt the contractions again, more pronounced this time. At twenty-seven weeks of pregnancy her feet had started to swell and her blood sugar had shot up. Mita’s obstetrician had advised complete bed rest. But it was too early for contractions. Mita called her husband.

Dr Verma was waiting for her as Mita was wheeled into the hospital. Mita was made to undergo a battery of tests. Exhausted and apprehensive, she waited for the verdict.

“Mita, your baby is alive and kicking.” Dr Verma reassured her. “But she is impatient to meet you. We need to operate immediately as the baby is going into respiratory distress.”

“But how will she survive, Doctor? She isn’t fully developed yet. It isn’t time yet.” Mita could almost taste her fear.

“We have the best neonatal setup in the country. She will get the best care. Besides we don’t have a choice.” Dr Verma attempted to soothe Mita’s fears.

So the baby was delivered that evening. Mita had a glimpse of a tiny pink wrinkled face before the baby was whisked away to the ventilator. For Mita, that momentary glimpse was enough to make her fall irrevocably in love.

The next few days the baby stayed on the ventilator. Mita was not allowed to see the baby as she was still weak, but she was told that the baby was making progress. 

“The baby looks just like me.” Mita’s husband declared to Mita proudly. “But she has your gorgeous eyes.”

Mita longed to hold her baby, to suckle her, to breathe in her baby smell. She imagined a pretty doll with wisps of curly hair and a baby pout. She day-dreamed about the dainty pink dresses she would buy the baby, the matching stockings, the little butterfly clips for her hair, the multicoloured satin ribbons, the tiara. Her baby would be a princess.

Her mother’s loud sob jolted Mita out of her daydream. She looked at her husband’s puffy eyes and her father’s grim face.

‘The baby? Is she alright?” Fear choked Mita’s voice.

Her husband broke down even as her father struggled to answer her.

“Mita, the baby is alive. But she has had a series of seizures. There has been massive intracranial bleed leading to irreversible brain damage. If the baby is kept for another twelve hours on the ventilator she will survive outside it on her own, but she will live like a vegetable. She will never cry or talk or play or do anything that normal children do.” Her father paused unable to go on.

 Then in a barely audible voice he continued. “If we take her off the ventilator now, the baby will survive for a few hours. Then she will be relieved from her pain forever. You have to decide.”

With tearless eyes Mita watched her dreams disintegrate. The frocks and tiara and baby pouts and baby smell.

Yet she had to decide. 

Hysterical laughter bubbled up within her.

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4 thoughts on “A Mother at the Crossroads

  1. Oh my such a tragic tale. Hope no mother or parents reach these crossroads.A poignant tale narrated with sensitivity.

  2. One could visualise and feel the emotions of a mother, right from her ecstasy to her agony… Painful Crossroad indeed…very well expressed

  3. Beautifully penned down. The mixed emotions of a new mom the anxiety the expectations the joy in this case the pain so vividly described. It’s absolutely a boon a total blessing to be blessed by a healthy child .

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