Just because someone carries it well doesn’t mean it isn’t heavy – Unknown

{Trigger Alert} I did not finish our birth story. I don’t know perhaps when will I ever have the courage to hit publish. But, it is important for me to document this memory. It is still very vivid, so it is better to write it now. I often receive messages from my friends, family, and my dear Instagram followers, how beautiful our family is, how do I manage it on my own, etc. I don’t manage it on my own, I have an army of support, a supportive wonderful husband, my sister Riyanshi, my mom & dad, my brothers who live close to me and my family who from far away are my support system, my friends Tanvi and Niketa, and my in-laws, for always being there for us. It takes an army of support to get through the tough and testing times.

It was about 3 PM on March 20th, 2021, a day after Inaaya was born.. All three of us had just woken up from our nap. Our nurse walked in, she checked on Inaaya. She just said she is going to step outside, Ajay and I wondered what happened, but didn’t pay attention to it. Our nurse then returned with a special care nursery Nurse, and then the on-call pediatrician was called. Something was not right. I could feel my hands getting numb. We were told Inaaya was having seizures. I was asked to hold her, while she was having one. We were asked to record it and I have never felt this hollow, this helpless ever in my life as I felt in that moment.

She was soon taken to the special care nursery, I could barely walk, so I had to wait in the room, while Ajay went with her. I was mad, very mad. In that moment all I could think was ” this kind of a thing happened to other people, I had never imagined it would be me, it would be my baby.” The pediatrician walked into my room, to confirm that Inaaya did have seizures, and she needs to be immediately transferred to the Children’s Hospital. I have no memory of what I was doing between the time I was in the room, till I got to go see her one more time before I got discharged. I was sobbing, I couldn’t stop. I could not stand the thought of being away from my baby. I could not fathom the emotions I went through at that moment. The hardest thing I have ever done in my life. To become a mother didn’t come easy, and to be one was the hardest thing ever.

It is hard to see your baby hooked up to all these machines, the constant chaos of the nurses and doctors around her, my baby heavily sedated so that she doesn’t get another seizure. I saw her just laying there without moving an inch, so still, stationary.

And soon she was taken away from me. But her daddy followed her. He went with her to be by her side. He promised me, that he will take care of her. I don’t know when did I stop crying. My mom came to the hospital that evening to stay with me. Due to covid, there were too many restrictions at the hospital. Her eyes were pale when she walked in, but she is a very strong woman, who knows how to handle the darkest situations with grace. She walked in and reassured me that everything will be alright. She told me that she is glad I have eaten. I had just finished my dinner, the hardest meal I ever had to have. Before leaving Ajay told me just one thing, to eat my dinner. He reminded me that I have to feed our baby and in order to do that, I had to eat. Swallowing every single bite for the next few days was hard, but I did it anyway. My mom helped me relax a little bit, and the painkillers did their job of putting me to sleep.

My brother picked my mom and me up when I got discharged. I left home on the 19th of March to go bring Inaaya home. I was over the moon that day. I had waited for this day for very long, I had planned everything, her first time coming to her home, her bringing home outfit, her welcome signs, how I would introduce her to Luna, Inaaya’s first time meeting my mom. And I had to come back home without her. I was devastated to step inside, but the only reason I could was my Luna. I had missed her so much, and hugging her was the only thing that helped me step into our home.

I had to pump without Inaaya. I had her blanket that I wrapped up that afternoon, her tiny beanies, and her burp cloth I used to clean her. They smelled like her. I kept her things close to me, in my bed. I would hold onto her blankets and beanies and sleep. The smell would make me miss her even more. The empty bassinet in the room would kill me. I could not even imagine going into her nursery. My body needed to know there is a baby, she needs to be fed, and I gave everything in me to be able to do that. I ate, even if I didn’t feel like it. The only thing that kept me going was the thought, that she needs milk to grow, and the least I could do for her was to pump and make sure she gets enough milk.

Ajay and Inaaya had reached the hospital, Inaaya was hooked onto so many wires, that I could barely even recognize her. She looked so tiny. She was sedated so she didn’t know what was going on, which gives me peace that she wouldn’t remember any of this. Ajay reassured me that it will all be okay and that she is in good hands, and we should be grateful that we found out right away.

I was discharged the next morning at around 10 am. Ajay asked me to get some rest, and then he would come to pick me up, take me to see Inaaya. For the next 10 days, Ajay and I would spend our entire day in the NICU. Ajay would sit in the waiting room all day, while I will be in the NICU with Inaaya. I chose to pump sitting next to Inaaya so I could hold her finger, feel close to her. If you ask me the hardest thing that I have ever done in my life is this, being a NICU Mom, a NICU Parent. The constant sounds of the machines that the babies are hooked onto, the chaos of the NICU in itself. It was unnerving.

Inaaya’s tests and MRI results had come back after 5 long days. She had suffered Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy. It is a broad term to use when the baby suffers through a brain injury near or at birth. In a layman’s language, Inaaya suffered a mild stroke in her brain due to not receiving either blood or oxygen, for sometime, The MRI clearly showed the nano sized damaged the stroke had caused. In that moment, we were grateful to know that we found out early and whatever the problem was it was fixed.

The next 5 days, started becoming better. Now it was time to prepare Inaaya to bring her home. Every day a tube was taken out. Inaaya was gaining back her consciousness. She was still very drowsy, but she was awake for a longer time, she was letting us know that she was hungry with her tiny coos. The hardest part of coming home was leaving Inaaya there, and coming home to an empty bassinet. I sobbed every day while coming back home. I would watch Inaaya on the camera and fall asleep, and then I would again wake up to check on her. There were days when she would have spat upon herself, I could see it on the camera, and had to call the nurse to request her to check on her. It would kill me at night for not being able to clean her up. But the nurses at the NICU were amazing. They took care of Inaaya as best as they could, and I couldn’t be more appreciative and thankful for them.

After 10 days, that seemed to as long as 10 years, the day came when we finally got to bring Inaaya home. My mom was finally meeting her first grandchild. Her happiness knew no bounds. On the other hand, my heart was bursting with so much love, finally, both our girls Luna and Inaaya were together. We had to slowly introduce them to each other, but it all worked out. Luna has been adjusting well to the change, getting to know her little sister. While the little sister Inaaya is all smiles when big sister Luna is around her.

Our Inaaya has brought so much light into our life. It is beautiful to wake up to her coos and small chats, her small laughs, and her giggles. She loves her tummy time, loves to move her legs, loves massages but hates her baths. She loves to fight naps to sneak in more playtime, or cuddles with us, and then somedays are lounging days, where she would want to get some more sleep. She wants to go to her daddy in the morning after her first feed and then come for a walk with me almost every day. Inaaya is my little sidekick, who has started accompanying me for grocery pickups, target runs, who loves to take selfies.

My life is not a single post that you see on social media. It lights me up when I see us for far we have come, to have Inaaya and Luna in our life is our greatest blessing. I have good days and bad days. Grief and pain are hard to explain. But kindness comes a long way. I count my blessings every day and I thank each one of you for being there for us. You know who you are.

I have good days and bad days, but I am working on having more good days. Dressing up, taking a picture, going for a walk, taking care of Inaaya and Luna, spending time with them, working on my blog, it all gives me happiness. I am just here trying to bring normalcy in our lives more and more. Making my bad days better days by taking care of my mental health.

The one person in my life without whom I would have never survived this storm, my mom. The pillar of my strength, and the ones whom I turn up to when all I need is a hug to feel better.

Luna, my sweet baby, thank you for graciously forgiving us for those days for not being able to take you to the park, for days when I didn’t hug you, days when I left you back home with your nana to go see Inaaya.

My tiny little fighter Inaaya, thank you for being so strong, thank you for letting Mumma know that you are her strength and there is nothing that can ever bring her down. I will always love you infinity + 1.

To my Aju, my world, my love, and my best friend thank you for loving me on my darkest days. You make me smile with your goofiness on the days it hard for me to breathe. Thank you for being the good listener that you are. Thank you for annoying me every day. Life wouldn’t be fun without you annoying me. You are an amazing dad to our daughters and there is nothing more to me than us and the life we have built for ourselves. I love you so much!

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