11 years ago, 3 weeks after Aaditya, my son, was born, we got a call from the NICU..
Aadi was born premature at 28 weeks, but due to a condition I developed during pregnancy called pre- eclampsia, he was born extremely small, weighing just 600 grams (1 lb).
During those days, every time the cellphone rang, we would skip a heartbeat.
This particular call was about our son having had a grade 4 brain hemorrhage. We were in India then, and the law allows one to unplug life support. Many near and dear ones advised us to let him go or he might suffer growing up and that we should be practical. Our neonatologist who loved Aadi advised us to take a second opinion from another doctor before we come to a decision. The doctor explained to us all the possible outcomes.
Now, my husband is the sorted and sane one amongst us, but he left the decision to me. Maybe because he knew what I would decide, and deep down he wanted the same. I was already in shock after a premature delivery and had developed postpartum depression and couldn’t think clearly. But while all people around us asked us to be practical, the only logic I could wrap my head around was "what if my child was born normal and God forbid later in life faces any injury. Will I abandon him then?"
My mother held me and said, "I know you want him. We'll raise him no matter what. I'm with you". Her words gave me all the courage I needed and my nervousness vanished. (Mind you, till date she has never left my side!)
I called up our neonatologist. He was leaving for the day but he was nervous about what was going to be our decision and told us to come over to the hospital to talk. We met him and told him, "we're keeping him, doc".
He looked relieved.
I went and stood by the incubator my son was sleeping in. I squeezed my hand through the tiny window of the incubator, finding my way through all the tubes and wires that were connected to him and I put a finger inside his tiny hands. He curled up all his fingers around my one finger and I made a promise to him and myself "No matter what happens buddy, Amma is going to give you all the love and happiness for however long you are with me. We'll make every minute count and live a magical life".
We moved to Boston for his better treatment and facilities. He hadn't started talking or sitting despite being 3 years old. The doctors predicted there is a possibility he might not talk. His first physical therapist told us, there is a chance he will need a wheelchair all his life. None of that dampened our spirits. We did therapies, numerous surgeries, spent hours in libraries, read together, sang together and he wouldn’t complain through any of that. Not once has he told us that he doesn’t want to do something because he is tired or not interested. Always eager to do what we, his therapists or teachers ask him to do. Pleasant with an unending smile..
He started preschool a little after he was 3. He got the best special educator we could ask for. Once he started school, we made books, his world. And he would try to make small sounds to sing and talk. And a little before 4, he started talking. We continued his therapies and a couple of surgeries later, at the age of 7, he started walking with a crutch.
Today, our miracle boy, who was given a 20% chance of survival, graduated elementary school!
You might think, what a show off.. he has just graduated elementary! But for me, this moment feels as if he just graduated from grad school!
His first teacher ever, who still guides me with his academics and IEP services, attended his graduation today. His neonatologist went on to become an older brother to me, who is still the first person I rush to whenever I’m in doubt about anything related to Aadi. And without even planning it, my mother was with us today to witness this moment.
What a full circle moment! This goes on to show how special and loved you are, my son!
Shine my little boy.. All these triumphs are yours and only yours, for working so hard at school, at therapies, through innumerable hospitalizations. No matter how hard the day was or how much it hurt, you always smiled and that gave us more courage. Today, the way you take care of me only reassures me that we made the right decision. We are in each other's life for a purpose. I need you just as much as you need me. You are the calm to my crazy!
Thank you for choosing us to be your parents when you were presented options up in heaven before you were born. We are blessed to be your parents and to be a part of your journey.
I truly am happy when I have to wake you up every day with an Aju Varghese song and then enjoy every moment with you, hearing your wild imaginary stories until we finally end the day with me bowing before “His Highness Aju Uncle”!
Today when you walked down that stage with your graduation certificate, I felt so proud of the humble and kind human being you have grown up to be. That thunderous applause when your name was called is only testament to this fact. Always stay this happy and you will move mountains one day my child! One day you want to be a DJ, and next you want to be a firefighter! You can be anything you want and more! You're special and trust me.. there's lots more goodness coming your way!