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How to Give Birth to Your Mother – Ankita Puri

By popular demand I write my blog today. This year I have been most irregular. However this has been a year like no other. OH WHAT A YEAR! Yesterday my mother, my only surviving parent, had her heart removed and with the sheer courage and generosity of another human’s will, had their heart transplanted into her body. What a concept. Today she took her first breath. Tomorrow she will start on a soft diet. Day after they say she will take her first steps. Just like a new born baby who is first exposed to the world. Except this time the tables are turned. Her children are the parents who will see to her care, her growth and her nurturing. OH WHAT A CONCEPT! As her children, my brother and me have been applauded, received accolades, received tags like ‘Heros’ and ‘Bravehearts’ and ‘Shravan Kumars’ . HOWEVER, I say, lets flip this. How many children get to return the gift of life to their parents? How lucky are we? The few chosen ones. How much more does God need to do to show us that we are his precious ones?

So how did we do it? Well I can’t speak for my brother but this is my take on how I got through one year of ‘How to give Birth to your Mother”! It was a recipe of three ingredients:

1. Mind Set

I am a Doula by training and profession. The literal translation for Doula is ‘Woman who Serves’ and so we support birthing and new mothers emotionally, physically as best we can, holding their hand during their most exciting yet tumultuous journey. I told myself that this was my biggest Doula job ever. Birthing my Mother. Doing whatever it took. This meant becoming a parent to my only parent, detaching myself from the situation enough to see it objectively, researching the various options we had as meticulously as possible, taking into account the opinions of all ensuring family felt included and involved and then making the final presentation to my Mother so that she had all the information to make HER choice. Taking her power away from her at any point was out of the question. There was no space for emotion, irrationality, moaning about the unfairness of life. There was simply too much to be done.

By process of elimination we moved from Ma saying ‘I do not, absolutely do not, want a heart transplant’ on the 16th of December last year to her having her successful transplant on the 14th of December this year. Not once, despite the turbulence of emotions, not once, did we EVEN CONSIDER that she would not make it. The mind was set and when the mind is set, the vibrations sent to the Universe WILL NOT be ignored.

2. Sheer Grit

It was not just about dealing with the looming issue of the transplant that one had to handle but as a working mother, daughter, wife, granddaughter one also had to ‘live life’. And so for one year I only ‘dealt’. I did. I actioned. I worked on autopilot. There was no time to get sick. No time to collapse. Wake up Nirvaan Inayat. Get them ready. Send to school with kisses and smiles. Meaningful kisses and real smiles. Homework. Piano class. Karate class. Soccer Practice. Art Exhibition. Typhoid shots. Cavity fillings. Check.

Ghar Ka hisab kitab. Paying bills. Ordering groceries. Get Diesel filled. Washing machine needs fixing. Cooking meals. Everyone must get what they want. My home must not be compromised. Dada goes to hospital. Nani goes to hospital. Dada goes to hospital. Nani goes to hospital. Check.

Mamma Mia is launched. The dream must be vindicated. Must help women all over India. Must make a difference. Fortis La Femme. Fortis Memorial Research Institute. Fortis Shalimar Bagh. Ensure my partner Shruti is coping well. Ensure the teams are coping well. Ensure my eye is on the ball at all times. Ensure clients are not impacted. Ensure revenue keeps growing. Check.

Chennai. Delhi. Chennai. Delhi. Chennai. Delhi. Take Ma to doc. Monitor liquid intake. Monitor Urine Output. Monitor Parameters. Do lung exercises. Chat and keep her Positive. Create Whatsapp groups for her to be connected to everyone. Six hours daily doses of Greys Anatomy and Brothers & Sisters. Take her for her 5 minute walks (that’s all her capacity would allow). Buy groceries. Cook. Check. Check. Check.
As I said, there was no time to collapse. No time to do anything else but what needed to be done. Many loved ones couldn’t understand why I would not ease up; ‘Go out. Have a drink. Chill out. Hang out’, but you see, everyone copes in different ways and I was on a Mission. Create Organ Receiving and Giving Awareness Network (ORGAN). Rally up the troops. Take away the pain from the world. Stop the pain. Stop the pain. Turn bad into good. Create hope. Fight. Fight. Fight. During this past year, I took more care of myself than ever before. Exercise, Meditation, Diet, Vitamins, Mind and Body work, Sleep. After all, I was fighting a war and this was not one we could afford to lose.

Don’t feel. Don’t think. Don’t analyse. Don’t watch the pot. Don’t send out negative vibes. Don’t lose focus. Don’t lose hope. Don’t lose FAITH. CHECK???

3. Faith

Faith is one of those things which is extremely personal. My mother has been very quiet about it her whole life while my father was very expressive. My husband doesn’t believe and neither does my brother. A dear friend recently asked me about my Faith; that he felt it was wavering and asked me what it means to me. I’ve thought about his question for a few days, but I attempt to answer it today.

I believe in something bigger than me. Something or someone to rely on, to share with, to talk to. Perhaps my God is not a traditional looking one. Perhaps my God cannot be found in a temple or shrine or is a living Master. But my God is MINE. To love. To fear. To fight with. To scream at. To cry to. Over the years, I have been to temples, mosques, churches; I have meditated, chanted and sat in sermons. All trying to find answers to questions I didn’t know how to voice. I don’t follow any path. I don’t believe in any one particular deity or Guru. But I BELIEVE. This is not to say I don’t waver. But I do have Faith that I am looked out for, carried through and if I give into that, then the larger story will be revealed. Let me give you a sense of where ALL this was shown to me during this journey.

Just before Ma’s condition deteriorated, I started working at Fortis Healthcare, where I had access to a plethora of hospitals, doctors and surrounded myself by a second ‘family’ who would come to support me incredibly through my journey. When Ma said she would absolutely not go to the US, we did not even know that India was an option and until various Angels here pointed out that fact, we were getting ourselves adjusted to the fact that she may not agree at all. As the process of elimination continued, doctors from the US and the UK ‘miraculously appeared’ in Delhi and were available for consultation. During those first few weeks I remember waking up or staying up at all odd hours for conference calls, meeting people in cars, coffee shops and clinics to ensure we had not left any stone unturned. Everyone said she would not have a fair shot abroad – the wait would be too long. But India didn’t ‘seem experienced’ enough, were some of the counter arguments we heard. How wonderful would it be if she could be transplanted in the comfort of her own home; but Delhi didn’t have an organised donor network.

Again, miraculously, a well known surgeon from Chennai where there WAS an organised network turned up in Delhi. He was the saviour. We felt it. He rejected her. Said she was too old. But he would still do it he said. Ha! My 60 year old mother was definitely NOT too old and THAT was simply not what we were going to accept. Something kept telling my brother and me that this was NOT IT! My Fortis Angels kept suggesting we speak in more detail, that we meet Dr Balakrishnan, at Fortis in Chennai. We let ourselves be guided. Our one day trip to Chennai was surreal. We met Dr Bala and within minutes KNEW HE WAS THE ONE. Intelligent, kind, charismatic, he had all the time in the world to answer all our questions and the patience to explain his thoughts in layman’s terms. She didn’t frighten him. He was the first person who was not frightened by her case. We had originally decided to check out another hospital before we returned to Delhi and out of fairness for our Mother, we decided to continue with that. On the way there, we found a new high rise residential building FIVE MINUTES away from Fortis hospital. It was amazing how everything was falling into place and how so many rejections turned into directions, helping us find our way to where we are today.

My mother in law came over from the UK to help support my husband look after my kids, my Masis stood like pillars around us filling in for periods when we could be at home, our friends and family rallied around us, my workplace never once challenged my remote working arrangement. And yet, I wasn’t always understanding and grateful. I had tantrums and fits and breakdowns and shut outs – those closest to me suffered the most and they know who they are and that I would do for them the same. Faith is one of those incredibly personal things. It is tested and challenged in amazing ways. The grip on it may loosen but that is what is being tested; our ability to do our best and trust that someone is looking after the rest.

Every experience in life is a lesson. I’ve definitely faced a lot more of those lessons that the average 34 year old reading this. My lesson for this one is to get the mind Focused on the goal, summon up the Grit that I know is in there and keep the Faith. With every experience, I grow closer to learning what I am meant to; I grow closer to finding myself and what I am capable of. So until the next lesson, I breathe, I smile and I toast to my Mother.

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1 Comment

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