Mother’s Day that could have been different, but different nevertheless

With all the ads & wishes & emotions & social media & profile pictures on Mother’s Day today, my heart goes out to 2 sets of people:

  1. Mothers who lost their children & cringes at the thought of not being able to get that hug, not just today, but everyday.
  2. Children who have lost their mothers at a young age & felt that irreplaceable void growing up.

Baby-center wished me on my first Mother’s Day. Lifecell wished me on my first Mother’s Day. In an attempt to look at things positively, let me just take that as an acknowledgement of the peek-a-boo amount of time that I was with my son.

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I went through my friends list on Facebook & life, and remembered a few friends who fall in the second category. I sent all of them a custom note – a message that I thought would make them feel less miserable. A message that someone is thinking about them on this day.

I also sent a message to the very few (actually just 2) mothers in my circle that I know who have lost their children. One of them is a 60+ year old who lost her son 10 years ago. Her daughter is my friend. I sent a note to her daughter to pass on my message to her mom. From her response, it sounded like the purpose of the message was served & that made her emotionally happy. She also mentioned that, her mom fell into both the categories since she lost her son, and her own mother at 2 years of age.

My friend said that she didn’t give any thought about the second part until my message. And, that’s when even I thought about those who are on both sides of losses.

Today & every Mother’s Day in my book would be about those who didn’t get what they signed up for, those who didn’t get a chance, those who had to give theirs back.

The sun has set in this part of the world, but it’s just risen in another, and there are some more mothers & children refusing to get out of bed for the fear of having to face this day.

As I ignore yet another Mother’s Day jewelry collection text on my phone, I cling on to the collection of memories with absolutely no fear of the luster fading away!



When a celebrity speaks about his son’s near-to-death experience

I was on a vacation for the last 10 days. I’ve seen videos and articles of Jimmy Kimmel talk about his newborn son’s CHD, but I didn’t get to watch or read them during my vacation. I bookmarked it for later.

I’m back now & I watched the video today.

His son Billy was born with a CHD called Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF) with Pulmonary Atresia, and did undergo an open heart surgery when he was 3 days old. Along with his story, Kimmel plugged in his political view on the US health care system. I’ll ignore that bit. I’m here to talk about a parent talk about his child’s birth defect & the near-to-death experience that followed & the small-yet-big awareness it spreads.

Kimmel cried while explaining what happened. It’s not often that you see a comedian crying on a national television. If I say he was emotional, that’s injustice. ‘Emotional’ is an understatement. There was fear, pain & love in every word that he spoke. Fortunately, Billy’s surgery was successful and he’s a thriving little baby now.

When the pic of Billy with all wires & attachments on him in NICU showed up on screen, it must have scared the hell out of the audience. But, compared to what he must have gone through looking at his son that way for so many days, not knowing if he’ll come home alive, it’s just a drop in the ocean.

Kimmel is a celebrity. What he says will be heard, shared & spoken about. When popular people talk about CHDs or anything else that needs attention, the awareness it spreads is massive. I know of a few more celebrities/politicians who are parents of kids with CHD. I’m not saying they should open up as well, but if they do, with the current power of social media, that will help pave way to change including removal of societal stigma on defects.

Remember those few experienced parents & survivors struggling to reach out to the communities through their wear-red marches? They are not attention-seeking; they are seeking attention – the deserved attention to a big problem that’s not been talked about much. With one celebrity going public about his experience, 1000 more people must have Googled what a CHD is, and if at least 2 of them join those marches next year, that’s a win. Baby steps. For the babies in need.

CHD is the leading cause of birth-defect related death. Families of children with CHDs know it. Survivors know it. Doctors know it. There are a lot more people in the world who need to know as well. Hope more Kimmels come out & talk about it, leading to more awareness, leading to more research, leading to more funds, leading to many a tiny hearts spared!

My life cells!

After a long 12 hours flight home after a vacation, I was clearing my emails, and that’s when I stumbled upon something I had kinda put aside – an email from Lifecell, the bank where we have preserved Ayden’s cord cells.

It was a payment notification. Starting with an advanced birthday wishes for our bundle of joy & wishing him a healthy, happy & prosperous life ahead, the email said – This year as your baby’s birthday is around the corner, it is time to renew the precious preserved stem cells of your child with us. Kindly make the annual storage fee payment before due date to treasure the precious gift you gave your child, another year...

Lifecell would send me emails almost every 2 weeks or on any special occasions. It was too hard to read “your child is protected for life” in every email that I received. I conveniently filtered all emails from them to a separate folder, so all future emails would automatically go into the folder and I don’t have to encounter them at odd times. I can go to them at my convenience.

They must have been sending me emails on the payment, but it never came to my sight because it was all in the folder.

Have you ever been stamped on your chest by a heavy-built person, like in those movies? That’s exactly how I felt. Maybe a little harder than that.

Not that I didn’t think about it earlier, but I had put it in the corner of my thoughts that Ayden’s stem cells are still here on this earth. The email just triggered all the thoughts from day 1, when during C-section the doctor raised her voice from the other side of the screen “I’m collecting the cord blood ok?”. I don’t think my “ok” reached her with the oxygen mask obstructing the sound waves.

I had gotten a package from them 2 months after Ayden’s passing. The package contained hardcopy of the preservation certificate, a baby on board sign, their booklet & most importantly it said wishing your baby a healthy & happy life. Ayushmaan bhava!

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That wasn’t good.

I put the certificate & the booklet along with all his hospital documents. I put the baby on board sign with his other belongings in his pink basket.

I had asked my husband then if we should continue with the payment next June when it comes. He said yes. I wouldn’t have thought otherwise too.

The email was hard because of the realization & cloudy-sorta-happiness that a part of him is still here, on this earth, in a bank. It was harder because we’ll be preserving it for life for something that will never be of use.