- 09 Feb - 15 Feb, 2019
THE LULL BEFORE THE STORM
- 05 May - 11 May, 2018
The first day of my vacations had finally arrived. Fawad was about a month away from his business trip. We were preparing for the baby’s arrival in full swing. Shopping, setting up the nursery. The baby’s name was also decided. Noor. We wanted to call our baby Noor, whether it was a boy or a girl. Noor – the light that will light up our lives.
Noor was super-active during these preparations. The doctor told me that babies are super sensitive to adrenaline rushing through the mother’s blood stream. And I was on a constant adrenaline surge. I had decided to accompany Fawad on his trip too, so we were both on a deadline. He needed to meet his work deadlines, while helping me complete the ground work for the baby’s arrival.
These were the happiest moments of my life. I could actually feel myself glowing. The nur I felt was my little Noor growing inside of me.
“Once all this is done, I am looking forward to our mini-vacation. We will reach London together and I’ll finish my work there and then you’ll return to Karachi while I move on to Dubai for the next few days. I’ll rejoin you soon enough before the day arrives.” Fawad frequently went over the plans.
All our scheduling was perfect and I felt confident.
The days went by very quickly and as we approached the ninth month I began to feel more settled in my pregnancy than I had ever before. Some of my friends and aunties told me that this was my body’s way of preparing for the delivery. It had reached its resting phase. The body needed to conserve all its energy for bringing the baby into the world. At my front I became so comfortable with the days ahead that I thought I could go on like this forever. Noor inside of me, hugging me and me holding my baby for the rest of my life.
I went to sleep thinking how perfect the world was. I began to recollect the past few months and became nostalgic. A romantic calm took over me. I remembered how we felt when we got the wonderful news of our baby. How our family and friends all helped out whenever I needed it. The way Fawad pampered me and took care of me. The nursery was coming together so nicely; the baby’s things were all bought and kept carefully. I enjoyed every minute of my pregnancy. Not one day was awkward. I even managed to keep working till the end of my term. My boss was so helpful and considerate. I thought I didn’t deserve to be so lucky or so happy yet I was extremely grateful. I was happy and immensely grateful.
I glanced over at Fawad already snoring. He was tired. Running the house and its renovations and working full time to meet deadlines at the office. Yet he never made me feel neglected or uncared for. What did I ever do to deserve him?
I fell asleep with these wonderful thoughts in mind.
They say that it’s when you are the happiest fate is preparing you for something terrible. My most favourite lines from the book The Kite Runner are, “I'm so afraid. Because I'm so profoundly happy. Happiness like this is frightening... They only let you be this happy if they're preparing to take something from you.”
That night I realised the truth of those lines. I fell asleep too happy. I tempted fate. I tempted nature to bring me down from that heavenly bliss.
I woke up around 4am with a strange pain in my lower body. I was very uncomfortable. It couldn’t be happening so soon I thought. I still had about a month to go.
But there was no denying the fact that I was in labour. But in the depth of the pain there was a dread. Something was very wrong. I didn’t know what it was but I could feel that something was not right.
I shook Fawad and told him to wake up. My voice was hoarse. My throat was so dry. I could feel the fluids escaping my body. I could feel my limbs losing energy.
“Fawad! Wake up!” I almost shouted.
He mumbled something gibberish.
“Something isn’t right. You need to take me to the hospital immediately.”
I sent a text to my Doctor’s PA. I made it sound as urgent and full of emergency as I could.
I started to sweat and I could feel my blood sugar levels dropping. I didn’t want Fawad to panic while he drove me to the hospital but I had a sinking feeling that I might pass out.
I was struggling to keep myself conscious. The night was dead and obviously there was minimal traffic on the road. We made it to the hospital in no time. My doctor had arrived before us and took me straight into the delivery room. Fawad was not allowed to come inside.
I tried to put up a brave face but both of us knew that this would be tough. He hugged me as tightly as he could. He had to be careful, I seemed to be crumbling.
What ensued was no less than a nightmare. The fetal heart monitor showed signs of stress. The baby was not doing well.
My own condition was not at its peak but I was told to be brave for the delivery. I needed to dig deep on my energy reserves and bring the baby into the world.
I struggled to do my best but sometimes even every ounce of maternal energy, drive, love and courage is not enough.
I gave birth to a sleeping baby. My Noor never saw the light of day. She decided to say goodbye before meeting us. I lost my baby.
I gave birth to a baby girl, 8 pounds 2 ounces. A still birth as they say clinically in the medical community. My Noor gave up the fight long before I did.
I was crushed. In shock. The doctor told me there was nothing anyone could do. Even the healthiest of babies sometimes do not survive the ordeal of labour and child birth.
I knew my Noor was strong. But today I realised that maybe my Noor was the strongest of all. This world was not ready for her goodness and she decided to stay in heaven.
I was set up in a room, attended to with medications and drips.
Fawad was given the bad news. He was the first one to enter my room. He ran in and hugged me and we cried till the minutes vanished into hours and time stopped.
v v v
Pretty soon we both realised that the room had filled up with family and friends. There was a hushed silence. No one actually knew what to say or do. I could see my family. I could see Saman’s teary face. She was trying to come near me but the throng of people stopped her path in my small hospital room. I felt helpless and not in control which was a very strange feeling at that time.
And I wanted to see her.
Everyone around told me that the doctor had advised against it. I was too fragile. I would never recover.
“We have to bury her soon,” Fawad whispered in my ear.
I was hysterical. How could I give up my child to the earth without even seeing her?
“I carried her in my womb Fawad, I had her inside of me. I felt each of her move and turn and kick. How can I not see her? No one can stop me from this. I am her mother Fawad!” I was yelling.
Fawad tried to calm me down. He tried to comfort me. But the only comfort I would feel was after seeing Noor.
I could feel a nurse rubbing my arm and adjusting my drip. I could see with the corner of my eye that she left an injection filled with some liquid inside the drip, puncturing it while the two fluids combined.
“Ok, ok... dear. Let me talk to the doctor. You need to rest now.” He spoke to me patiently.
“Promise me, Fawad. You won’t take her away before I see her. Promise me!”
“I won’t take her anywhere, I promise.”
With that he laid me down and sat by my side. I could feel the drug kicking in. The nurse cleared the room and let Fawad stay with me while my eyes began to close against my will and I fell into a strange, fitful sleep.
I dreamt of her. I dreamt of cradling Noor while I cooed and played with her. I saw everyone around my bed at the hospital giving me their blessings and showering us with so much love. It was a beautiful dream. It felt very peaceful.
I woke up groggily. Fawad had fallen asleep by my side.
I let him sleep. He had had a tough day. I didn’t even know what time it was even though I was wide awake and already conscious of the sad reality. I began to cry softly.
I covered my face with the sheets to muffle my sobs.
Fawad woke up and began to comfort me while sobbing himself.
We didn’t deserve this. We had waited too long for this day and yet we were not granted the joy of becoming parents. Why? Why us? I wondered and I was angered but helpless to do anything.
A nurse quietly walked into the room and whispered something to Fawad, he nodded yes.
She went out again and returned with a small bundle.
My bundle of joy. My Noor.
She placed her in my arms.
She was perfect. A tiny version of us all put in together to make a complete person who decided to remain asleep when she came into the world.
“Didn’t you want to meet me, little baby?” I held her to my cheek. Her skin was so soft. She didn’t look lifeless, only peaceful, only serene.
Fawad held her hand. And touched her face. We both kissed her goodbye and held her tight. We both knew it was time to let her go.
I wrapped her in her blanket once again and Fawad took her away. The burial would take place soon he told me. All the preparations had been made.
I was left alone in the room. But I didn’t feel alone.
They say having a child changes a person. I could feel that change the very day Noor came into my life. And I think having a child that is taken away from you at birth changes a person in a way that is indescribable. I felt oddly at peace. I felt that I was ready to face the world. I could feel a tension release itself from my body and I slept. •