What started as a happy pregnancy turned into a nightmare and a rare medical condition.
Motherhood felt like a Christmas present that I had been waiting for, all my life. Excitement, nervousness and anticipation all rolled into my world at the same time.
I had no idea at that time that it would be my only experience with motherhood.
Like all first-time moms, I stuffed food into my changing body at regular intervals, consciously kept my mind relaxed and body active with walks by the sea side. I admired my growing belly and the glow that it had lent to my face. I was happy. Blissfully happy.
When the horror descended
Bliss turned into horror when I was told that I would deliver my baby almost four weeks before the expected date. I was hurried for a C-section and I did not know the real reason behind this. The hospital staff was busy preparing me to go in for the surgery, carefully avoiding my questioning gaze and annoyingly predictable questions.
My intuitions told me that something was amiss, everyone was carrying with them confidential information. I needed to know, but nobody would tell me. Things happened like a flash of lightning. Before I realized, I was lying on the operation table with the anaesthetist, the gynecologist and the pediatrician all looking at me grimly.
A rare medical condition
Shooting pain, blurry faces and voices in whispers are all I can recollect from that night at the hospital. When I regained consciousness, I found my belly flabby and empty. There was no newborn baby beside me. There was no cradle. No smiling faces, like they show in the movies. I heard no congratulations. I was alone, afraid and dreaded what was in store for me.
Hours later, I learnt that my baby was diagnosed with a rare condition called chylothorax. Google tells me that chylothorax is a type of pleural effusion. It results from a lymph formed in the digestive system called chyle accumulating in the pleural cavity due to either disruption or obstruction of the thoracic duct. That’s what the doctors told me too. I understood nothing. I stared at them blankly in disbelief and shock.
The doctors explained to me that there was a tiny hole in my baby’s thoracic duct which was making it difficult for him to breathe. He was breathing through the ventilator. I was in a trance. I had believed that I had kept him safe all along, warm and fuzzy inside my belly, fortified with my love and superpowers that every mom naturally owns. But I was wrong. I had failed. I had not done my job well.
A good support system
When I first saw him, I could not touch him, hold him or kiss him like I had imagined. He was chained with wires, beeping machines and ferocious looking medical equipment that I had forced myself to trust. This was not how I had imagined our first meeting to be. But I secretly told him, we were going to make it, we were a team now. And we did! Today, I am the proud mom of the same baby, now a teenager. All is well. We fought chylothorax.
I am indebted to a great team of doctors, family support and the prayers of tons of people to thank for letting me keep the gift of motherhood. Chylothorax may seem daunting but we did fight through.
We shall overcome
Life has strange ways of showing us how uncertain things can be. I feel grateful that my nightmare ended with a blessing. I treasure my motherhood, though I admit that it has left a scar in my mind and fear in my heart, making me wake up in the middle of the night, making me rush to my teenager’s room and hugging him tight as he snores softly in his bed.
It was a scary beginning and remains a roller coaster ride, but I am enjoying it nonetheless.
Featured image credit: Pixaby