My unborn baby! You chose me to be your mother and I am grateful for it. Today you are nineteen weeks and three days old . I conceived you with love and nurtured you with care and affection for these nineteen weeks and three days of your existence. You were this New Year’s gift to me whom I cherished with all my heart. I wove hundreds of dreams around you. I was so happy to have you within me. Kept on thanking God for sending you to me.
A week back I danced at my niece’s wedding at Varanasi and you danced with me. Everyone complimented on the glow on my face! The glow of happiness of having you! Next morning I got the unsettling news that one of my blood screening test were abnormal and showed 1:50 risk of Down syndrome. I came back to Delhi and got the amnioncentesis done on 28 April. Two days later I got the dreaded sentence that you have Down Syndrome!
I howled and shrieked with pain and disbelief! How could it be? Why it had to happen to you? For hours I kept on screaming and crying. I wasn’t ready to believe the verdict, I still am not.
I am a doctor my love but as your helpless mother I doubted and questioned the medical facts placed in front of me. I argued against everything I have been taught in Medical College. I consulted my friends and experts in medical profession. I pleaded with them, argued with them. They understood my pain, some of them shared my tears but their advice was unanimous. They all expect me to behave in ‘rational ‘ way and not bring you to this world. You are not equipped to survive in this harsh world they say, citing medical facts about the mental and physical disabilities you may face and host of diseases that will require life long health care. I am labelled as selfish and emotional if I choose to give you life out of love I feel for you. I am told if I really love you I should let you go. I am told that the kindest thing I can do to you is letting you go.
I don’t know my love , what is the right choice? There is no simple white or black answer to it- at least not for me. All I feel is heart wrenching hopelessness and mind numbing helplessness. Whatever I choose I am laden with guilt .
Whenever you kick your tiny feet inside me ( and you are doing it a lot these days darling) I instinctively want to protect you and my hands go on my tummy to caress you. But I am in a dilemma! What do I protect you from my love- from life or from death? What is ethical here- to take away life from you because it would be less than ‘perfect‘ , probably making you suffer from host of physical, mental and social afflictions or to protect your right to life- a life that would be different and challenging.
I am given the consolation that it’s God’s will and he intends to take you away from me. How do I believe this? Maybe God chose me specially to have you for a reason and it is medical science which is telling me to defy his will.
The only fact that makes sense to me is that I won’t be around forever to look after you and give you the care you deserve life long. Who would look after you when I am gone my love? You have eleven and ten year old sister and brother who insist that they will love you and take care of you no matter what . I cry when they plead with me to let you be born but they are still too young and naive to understand what they are promising . As their mother I don’t have the right to burden their lives with my responsibility.
There is a constant battle going on inside me darling ,churning my emotions . I sit silently for hours and then shriek and cry with pain. My eyes continuously pouring my despair since last four days. The tears just don’t stop my love. These tears are of anger- anger at God for doing this to me and you, anger at the medical science to make me feel stupid , selfish and irrational if I chose not to believe its prognosis and diktats, anger at my well meaning family members, peers and society at large which expects me to behave in prescribed ‘expected‘ way . How do they expect me to instantly get detached from you after hearing the diagnosis and get it over with it? Not a single soul encouraged me or gave me strength to choose the other alternative. I wish someone did!
These are tears of anger at the accepted notions of ‘perfect‘ in this world. What is ‘perfect‘? Are all these people perfect who wage wars ,kill ,maim and shame humanity? They were brought in this world because they were ‘perfect babies‘. We lie, cheat and betray each other. Are we ‘perfect‘? None of us is perfect in any sense. Was the love that conceived you or the relationship that bore you ‘perfect?’ No nothing is ever ‘perfect‘. We know that you would be beautiful, adorable, innocent and happy child ! You will never ever even think of hurting other person but my baby we unanimously agree that you will be less than ‘perfect‘ and we cruelly snatch your right to live and cloak our cruelty with hypocrisy of doing the best for you and our family! My apologies to you my love for our distorted thinking and perceptions! Maybe our world is not perfect for a beautiful soul like you. Maybe we are not ‘perfect parents’ for you darling!
These are also the tears of despair my love- despair of not being able to ever see you face, not to know whether you have your father’s Labrador like soulful eyes that I adore or my proud pointed nose , despair at not being able to hold you in my arms ever, despair at not being able to see your first smile, hear your first squeal of delight, see your first tooth, watch you taking your first step. I will never hear you call me ‘Mummy‘ and hug me tight. I don’t even know yet whether you are my son or my daughter . These are the tears that are eroding the castle of love I built around you and carrying the debris of broken dreams and dashed hopes. I love your father very much and you are part of him and me – of love we shared . It is not easy for me to let you go.
These are the tears of hopelessness too – of not finding the courage in me to stand up and raise my voice for choosing the other alternative , to willingly opt for taking the ‘risk‘ even if it means changing the lives of my family members. If I could walk away and raise you on my own I would have my love ! I have no doubts about it but I have two kids I can’t turn my back on. I have no right of ‘individual and independent choice‘ My choice has been made for me – by medical science, family, peers, society.
I could snatch just three days from them – to spend with you in lieu of a lifetime I envisioned. Today is the last day we have together.There is so much I want to talk to you about. I love you to death since the day I came to know about your existence (19th January it was) and I will keep on loving you no matter what. You will be the first one I will remember when I wake up and last one I will think about when I sleep. The void you leave in my tummy will grow forever in my heart and soul. I will never be the same again. I will not be able to look at any baby without my chest tightening with grief. I may not hold any baby in my arms again because I couldn’t hold you in them. My heart may turn to stone or break into pieces with sorrow and regret.
This last day with you as I feel you inside me I wish to still all the clocks of this world. I do not want tomorrow to come ever and be separated from you forever!
I have baked so many cakes for your father and siblings. I looked forward to bake you many starting from your first birthday cake . But all I got the chance to, is to bake you two ‘goodbye cakes!‘ I baked you two cakes as I don’t know what you would have liked more when you grew up-fruit cake like your mother or chocolate cake like your father.
As I cut these cakes I would be asking you to forgive your mother for her helplessness in this lifetime. As you rest peacefully in the heaven above please remember I will love you and miss you till I breathe my last. I pray for us to be together beyond this lifetime! Goodbye my love, my darling, my unborn baby. Goodbye!
Love you always
This is the letter I wrote today for my unborn baby diagnosed with Down syndrome on 30 April 2016. I am scheduled for hysterotomy tomorrow to terminate my nineteen weeks plus pregnancy. I have spent these four days in denial, anger, despair, helplessness , grief and an acute feeling of loss. With a heavy heart I have accepted the collective decision to not continue with this pregnancy and bid farewell to my unborn baby whom I love to death but paradoxically can’t save from death! There maybe many helpless mothers in my situation and I would like to share this letter with them.