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Off the cuff: Matters of the heart

September 29 of every year is World Heart Day. It was the day when I stood witness to my first born being wheeled in for surgery just days after his birth. When I had first laid eyes on him, nurturing the magic of a life inside me for nine months, it felt nothing short of a miracle, even as I drowned in an avalanche of bliss tangled into a riot of emotions. In an instant of a touch, I had become his mother and as I precariously balanced my bundle of joy, I had felt as vulnerable as the tiny bundle in my inexperienced hands.
One moment, he was wrapped in my arms — our contours blending into one and the next he lay under a tangle of wires surrounded by mystifying equipment that kept his vitals going. Pranitha Menon The long maternity leave gave me the opportunity to fly home and use the support of my family to ease into my new role. When he caught a cold, I put it down to the weather, but when his paediatrician suggested we go in for an echocardiogram, I panicked. Friends and family are a pillar of support during difficult times, but this luxury comes with a volley of suggestions and recommendations at every turn for it was not often that a newborn with a mild case of cold was sent off to a cardiologist. Being the first-time mother, sailing on a rickety boat of doubt along the learning curve, I made my first mistake — it felt easier to be in denial than go with my instincts and take a second opinion. In a couple of days, the cold progressed into pneumonia. One moment, he was wrapped in my arms — our contours blending into one and the next he lay under a tangle of wires surrounded by mystifying equipment that kept his vitals going. The days that followed were a blur as we tried to come to terms with the fact that our otherwise healthy son was born with a congenital anomaly commonly known as a hole in the heart, which had caused the pneumonia. As I sat day after day on a chair outside the ICU, my insides collapsing under the weight of anxiety and hopelessness, I wondered — Why me? But it is during the darkest times of our life that we learn life’s lessons. If there was an unrelenting flow of sympathy rendered my way, that I chose to ignore, there were wonderful people who went out of their way to help. Prayers poured in from friends and well-wishers in the UAE and elsewhere. When I finally saw through the haze of my anxiety and looked around, I realised that my pain dimmed in comparison to some others. There were those who had not a glimmer of hope in sight, some burdened by the suffering of a loved one and mounting hospital bills, there was a young mother whose baby was whisked away straight from her womb into surgery and others who were on an endless wait on the transplant list — at least we had none of those. Under the umbrella of distress, our dreams, ambitions and prayers mingled into the singular need to traverse the dark tunnel keeping our candle of hope burning. more from the writer Seriously, when did I get so serious? Off the Cuff: Tomorrow will reap the seeds that we sow today Off the Cuff: The train of thoughts that reroute the track of life Years later, when I was expecting again, I walked that extra mile — literally and figuratively — following all that my doctor deemed right. Lady luck and the strength of prayers smiled our way and Little Princess was born. Today, I believe in miracles because one lives with us — we call him Sid. He enjoys playing football and badminton, eating shawarma, devouring books and writing poems. We still seek answers to our many ‘Why’s’ but we are thankful and believe that everything happens for a reason. From inside the bleak hospital walls, one important life’s lesson was that it takes one person’s big heart to shrink another person’s financial mountain into a molehill. As for your heart, it beats tirelessly to keep you alive and every beat is worth taking care! — Pranitha Menon is a freelance writer based in Dubai. Twitter: @MenonPranitha

September 29 of every year is World Heart Day.

It was the day when I stood witness to my first born being wheeled in for surgery just days after his birth.

When I had first laid eyes on him, nurturing the magic of a life inside me for nine months, it felt nothing short of a miracle, even as I drowned in an avalanche of bliss tangled into a riot of emotions. In an instant of a touch, I had become his mother and as I precariously balanced my bundle of joy, I had felt as vulnerable as the tiny bundle in my inexperienced hands.

One moment, he was wrapped in my arms — our contours blending into one and the next he lay under a tangle of wires surrounded by mystifying equipment that kept his vitals going.

Pranitha Menon

The long maternity leave gave me the opportunity to fly home and use the support of my family to ease into my new role. When he caught a cold, I put it down to the weather, but when his paediatrician suggested we go in for an echocardiogram, I panicked.

Friends and family are a pillar of support during difficult times, but this luxury comes with a volley of suggestions and recommendations at every turn for it was not often that a newborn with a mild case of cold was sent off to a cardiologist. Being the first-time mother, sailing on a rickety boat of doubt along the learning curve, I made my first mistake — it felt easier to be in denial than go with my instincts and take a second opinion.

In a couple of days, the cold progressed into pneumonia.

One moment, he was wrapped in my arms — our contours blending into one and the next he lay under a tangle of wires surrounded by mystifying equipment that kept his vitals going.

The days that followed were a blur as we tried to come to terms with the fact that our otherwise healthy son was born with a congenital anomaly commonly known as a hole in the heart, which had caused the pneumonia.

As I sat day after day on a chair outside the ICU, my insides collapsing under the weight of anxiety and hopelessness, I wondered — Why me?

But it is during the darkest times of our life that we learn life’s lessons. If there was an unrelenting flow of sympathy rendered my way, that I chose to ignore, there were wonderful people who went out of their way to help. Prayers poured in from friends and well-wishers in the UAE and elsewhere. When I finally saw through the haze of my anxiety and looked around, I realised that my pain dimmed in comparison to some others. There were those who had not a glimmer of hope in sight, some burdened by the suffering of a loved one and mounting hospital bills, there was a young mother whose baby was whisked away straight from her womb into surgery and others who were on an endless wait on the transplant list — at least we had none of those.

Under the umbrella of distress, our dreams, ambitions and prayers mingled into the singular need to traverse the dark tunnel keeping our candle of hope burning.

more from the writer

Years later, when I was expecting again, I walked that extra mile — literally and figuratively — following all that my doctor deemed right. Lady luck and the strength of prayers smiled our way and Little Princess was born.

Today, I believe in miracles because one lives with us — we call him Sid. He enjoys playing football and badminton, eating shawarma, devouring books and writing poems. We still seek answers to our many ‘Why’s’ but we are thankful and believe that everything happens for a reason.

From inside the bleak hospital walls, one important life’s lesson was that it takes one person’s big heart to shrink another person’s financial mountain into a molehill.

As for your heart, it beats tirelessly to keep you alive and every beat is worth taking care!

— Pranitha Menon is a freelance writer based in Dubai. Twitter: @MenonPranitha

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