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8 Months Later
Maan and Geet entered the hospital with concern, worry and anticipation written all over their faces. It had been eight months since this ordeal had begun. Eight months since their precious baby girl, their Roshni, had been born. It had been eight months of nearly living in the hospital as Roshni was treated in the NICU and then eventually moving up to the PICU.
As they entered the Pediatric unit, their eyes immediately fell on Yash Patel, Roshni's pediatrician. Once she had been moved out of the NICU, Dr. Collins had transferred her care to Dr. Patel but still kept up to date with Roshni's progress. When the doctor looked up as Maan and Geet approached, he smiled.
Instantly, the faith and hope that they had come with this morning increased ten fold.
"Good morning Di…," Yash had begun.
"Good morning doctor," Maan said, emphasizing the 'doctor', "We're at the hospital."
"Oh sorry," Yash said, catching is slip. "Good morning Dr. & Mrs. Khurana."
"Good morning Dr. Patel," Geet said with a smile.
"So…?" Maan asked.
"Well you don't waste any time do you Dr. Khurana?" Yash asked.
"Absolutely not Yash," Maan said, suddenly cutting out formalities. "Tell us what we want to hear."
"Maan please," Geet scolded under her breath.
"Yash huh? I thought we were in a professional setting," he said jokingly.
Maan didn't pay any attention to Geet's giggle or Yash's smirk. For the past eight months he had looked forward to this day and he wasn't going to let anything ruin it. This day was going to go just like he'd planned.
Maan heard Yash laugh before closing the chart he was working on.
"I've done my rounds and her labs are normal, everything is as it should be," he said.
"So…?" Maan asked again.
"So, I'll do the discharge orders today and you guys can take your little girl home," Yash said.
"Thank you," Geet said as a smile broke on her face.
Before she knew it, she had embraced the doctor in a hug as tears collected in her eyes.
"Thank you," Maan said.
As Geet stepped back, Maan reached out and shook the doctors hand.
Both Maan and Geet thanked God for bringing this day to them. They had been waiting for eight months to be able to take her home, but it never happened. Last week Dr. Patel had told them that if Roshni remained stable the way she had been, and gained a few extra pounds, he would discharge her. And today, that day was finally here.
While her physical development still lagged a bit behind most infants in her age, her cognitive development was right on track. She was excelling despite the rock start to life that she'd had. Although Roshni was smaller than most infants in her age range, it was not unusual for her considering how she'd been when she was born. Thankfully however, everything seemed to be developing properly and adequately for her.
After the first Kangaroo Hold sessions, Roshni's stats had improved drastically. It regulated her heart beat and made her breathing stronger. Dr. Collins recommended doing this at least twice a day, with a maximum of 2hrs each session. Geet had adhered religiously. Roshni's vitals jumped and remained stable, so much so that within a week she was taken of the ventilator because she was strong enough to breathe on her own. They were watching a miracle take place before their eyes.
Maan and Geet rushed into the PICU where Roshni was. Most of the cribs in that area had some personal touches for the infants that were there. A colorful blanket, a few pictures, stuffed animals etc. However, Roshni's crib was a totally different case. The crib that she was in was decorated from top to bottom. Leave it to Naintara and Meera to pimp out Roshni's crib. It had everything and anything they could find in pink – blankets, sheets, pillow covers, stuffed animals, toys were all pink. There were mini disco balls and even feather boas.
As they approached Roshni's crib, they saw that she sat playing with Meera and Naintara. Naintara was back in school now but she came to the hospital during her breaks, between, before and after classes. Meera, when not dealing with patients or emergencies, could be found here with Roshni. Even Dev would swing by at least once a day between meetings and hearings to see Roshni.
"Roshni," Geet called.
Instantly her eyes found Geet and Maan and she broke into a toothless grin, with drool falling from her mouth.
Every time Maan saw he daughter, he didn't know who glowed more. Roshni because she was seeing her parents, or Maan and Geet because they were seeing their baby girl. Either way, it didn't matter.
Upon seeing them, Roshni discarded the toy she was playing with and reached her arms out so she could be picked up.
"You guys suck," Naintara said as she lowered the side of the crib so Maan could pick up Roshni.
"How's my girl?" Maan asked as he lifted Roshni into his arms, ignoring Naintara.
She gurgled in response.
Like always, her tiny hands found their way to Maan's chin where she loved to play with his beard.
"I agree, you guys suck," Meera said with a disappointed voice. "Every time either of you two enters her sight she forgets everything she's doing."
"See, she even threw away the new musical toy I got her," Naintara complained as she cradled the plastic toy in her arms.
"She didn't throw it away," Geet said. "She just put it aside."
"Same difference," Meera and Naintara said at the same time.
Geet and Maan looked at each other before rolling their eyes.
"We get to go home today," Geet said as she placed a kiss on her baby's cheek.
"What?!" Meera and Naintara said as they both shot to their feet.
"My Lil' Diva gets to go home?" Naintara asked.
"Yes, she does," Geet said.
"Ahh!" Naintara screamed as she began jumping up and down.
"Keep it down," Meera said, "This is a hospital."
Naintara looked and Meera, and soon Meera too was squealing in delight.
"So Yash…I mean, Dr. Patel gave the green signal?" Naintara asked.
Maan, Geet and Meera eyed Naintara knowingly while she blushed.
"Yes, Dr. Patel did give the green signal," Maan said, once again emphasizing 'Dr. Patel'.
Naintara reached for her purse and slung it over her shoulder.
"Ok, I've gotta run," she said.
"Class?" Geet asked, knowing that Naintara's second quarter back in school had just started a few weeks ago.
"Hell no, my Diva is coming home, I have a party to plan," she said.
"Awesome idea," Meera said. "My shift is over I'll come help."
Both girls rushed out as Maan called behind them, "Don't go over board!"
Meera and Naintara stopped, looked at each other and then back at Maan.
"Ya, ok…sure Jij," Naintara said before disappearing with Meera.
"What is gonna happen to these two?" Geet asked.
"Nothing," Maan said, "God save the men in their lives."
Geet couldn't help but laugh, as did Maan. Even Roshni giggled.
Maan played with Roshni while Geet got everything together. She soon tired out. Like she usually did when she was sleepy, Roshni placed her head on Maan's shoulder, one arm went around his neck (as far as it would reach), and the middle and ring finger of her other hand went into her mouth. Most kids sucked on thumbs, his Roshni sucked on her two fingers.
Maan eased himself onto the rocking chair, and before he knew it, she was out for the count. As he held his sleeping daughter, his mind drifted to the first time that he'd held her. It had always been Geet that held Roshni during the Kangaroo sessions, until one day Dr. Collins asked if Maan wanted to do it as well. Not only would it serve the same purpose, but it would give Maan a chance to bond with his child as well. After initially refusing because he was so scared that he'd hurt her, he had agreed at Geet's persistence.
It had been a Wednesday afternoon when Maan had held her. Just like Geet had done, he had showered, put on clean scrubs and a gown. Once they entered the secluded corner of the NICU, Maan took of his gown so the nurse could place Roshni on his chest. When she finally was placed on his bare chest, Maan stiffened. He didn't move a muscle, not even bat an eyelash in fear that the slightest movement would hurt her. As he felt her tiny heart beat, his heart stopped.
He finally felt like a father. Of course, after she'd been born Maan had known that he'd do anything for this innocent angel, he'd give his life for her, he'd protect her at all costs. But that day, as he held her over his heart, he felt it – he felt it in every fiber of his being. He was father. He was Roshni's father.
Maan was broken from his reserve when Geet touched his shoulder.
"Why don't I get her changed while you take care of the paper work," Geet said.
"Sure," Maan said as he got up and handed Roshni to her mother.
Maan leaned in, kissed Roshni's head and quickly kissed Geet on the lips.
Maan figured, once the paperwork was taken care of, they'd be out in 20 minutes. Oh had he been wrong.
They had been blessed that all the nurses and doctors on the unit and throughout the hospital. They all loved Roshni and took such good care of Roshni that Maan and Geet would be forever grateful. However, at this moment, 3 hours after the discharge orders had come, it all seemed like a curse. People from all over the hospital kept coming by to bid farewell to their favorite patient. Three hours and counting.
"Everything had better be perfect!" Naintara yelled.
Everything had to be perfect because today was the day that her niece was coming home. Meera and Naintara had worked hard all day making sure that everything was in place for the celebration.
"Babe, relax, she's just a baby," someone said from behind her.
Turning around, she saw her boyfriend of 6 months, Yash Patel. He was Roshni's doctor and well…one thing lead to another. One date had turned into five, and then that had turned into a relationship. Geet still teased Naintara about falling for a doctor and being in a serious committed relationship.
For as long as she could remember, Naintara had said that she never really believed in love because look at all those couples out there that break up, get divorced, etc. It was her saying that couples that had arranged marriages tended to have more successful and happier marriages. That is why she'd decided a long time ago that she'd have an arranged marriage like her parents did. However, all that philosophy flew right out the window the first time she'd seen Yash.
He had to be the cutest man she'd ever seen. Sure, he could be handsome when he needed to be, but what she loved the most was how cute and adorable he was. To top it off he was sweet, a great doctor and her sister thought he was God for treating Roshni with such great protocols. Naintara admitted, because of the way he'd handled Roshni's case, she saw him a God a little bit too. Of course, he never needed to know that.
Naintara broke out of her thoughts when Meera spoke.
"She isn't just some baby," Meera said as she joined them in the main hall. "She's our miracle baby!"
Dev came from the kitchen holding a platter of food which he placed on the table. He then turned to Yash before speaking.
"Dude, do you have a death wish? Do not instigate these women. They will kill you! They will kill you dead!" Dev said.
He had learned the hard way that no one was to come between these ladies and Roshni. Dev and made the horrible mistake of saying that all babies looked the same to him at the beginning. Oh lord, they'd nearly bit his head off.
"He's right," they heard.
Turning around they all beamed as they saw Geet standing at the door with Maan who held onto the carrier that Roshni lay in.
The four of them all rushed to greet the family as they stepped him.
Maan put the carrier on the couch and before he could move, he was pushed away by Naintara and Meera who were fawning all over her.
"Welcome home my little mini Diva," Naintara said.
Roshni gurgled in response again.
"It's about time you guys got here," Yash said. "I gave the orders hours ago."
"It wasn't easy taking her away from everyone," Maan said.
"That…and the fact that Maan drove at about 5 miles an hour," Geet said.
"I did not!" Maan said.
Geet placed Roshni's diaper bag on the floor next to the love seat.
"Maan, a grandma riding a bike passed us," Geet said.
Maan knew he'd lost.
"Yeah well…I had to be careful…I had precious cargo," he said as he caressed Roshni's cheek.
Instantly everyone in the room fell into a fit of laughter.
The rest of the day and evening was spent with everyone playing with Roshni, feeding Roshni, even changing Roshni. It was only when she slept that the adults focused on something else, but even then it was related to Roshni. There had been a very heated argument about who's gift Roshni would like more – Dev's teddy bear, Meera's musical instrument, Naintara's bathtub buddies or Yash's blanket. After about 20 minutes of arguing, they came to a conclusion. They laid everything out in front of Roshni, which ever one she went to, that was the winner. Too bad for them that Maan had joined them on the floor because Roshni crawled straight to Maan.
During dinner, the topic of conversation had changed from Roshni, to Dev and Meera's wedding.
"So, how are the wedding plans?" Geet asked. "Now that Roshni's home, I'd be happy to help."
"Oh don't worry," Meera said as she took a bite of her garlic bread. "We've got it covered…for now."
"Yes!" Naintara piped in, "Color theme is going to be purple and silver for the wedding. Invitations are picked out, florist is picked out and even venues are picked out."
"We are still working on the theme and ideas for the other functions," Meera said.
"Have you guys set a date yet?" Maan asked as he took a sip of his water.
"Not yet, but sometime next summer," Meera said.
"What? Why so late?" Yash asked. "I thought you all were madly in love and what not."
"We are…but we're gonna wait," Meera said.
"But why…that's a whole year?" Maan asked.
Suddenly Meera blushed.
"I don't wanna say because you guys will laugh," Meera said with her lips pouting.
"They will not," Dev said.
Meera still remained silent.
"Meera come on, we are all family here," Geet said.
"She wants to wait because by then Roshni will be 2yrs old and walking," Dev said.
"And……?" Maan asked.
"And…that mean's she'll be walking so she can be in the wedding as a flower girl," Dev said.
Maan and Geet both turned their attention to Meera who couldn't take her eyes off of the plate in front of her. They were touched, truly touched. These people were putting their dreams and their lives on hold for their little girl.
Geet reached across the table and put a hand on Meera's hand.
"Thank you," Geet said softly, "I know she'll love it."
She felt tears prick her own eyes as she saw tears swim in Meera's eyes.
"What you all have done for our baby," Geet began as she looked around the table, "We can't ever repay you, and we'll never forget it."
"Geet," Dev said. "You just said, we are family here…we did what we did for our family."
Geet and Maan both smiled.
"Yes, and she isn't just your Roshni…she's our Roshni too," Meera said.
Suddenly a lull fell over the table and everyone tried to hide their tears. Pretty soon, the conversation had turned to Roshni once again, who lay playing with her mobile in the play-pen.
After dinner they all began cleaning up the remnants of the 'Welcome Home' party. While Meera and Naintara attempted to help Geet clean up, Yash and Dev were having rather intense crawling races with Roshni who was now out and playing on the floor where a sheet had been placed.
"Ha!" Dev yelled, "I win! In your face baby!"
"Score one for the lawyer!" Yash piped in.
Everyone looked at Dev and Yash in horror as they high-fived each other. When they noticed all eyes were on them, Dev quickly bent down and picked up Roshni who was giggling.
"I mean…love you Rosh," he said as he kissed her.
Yash, didn't miss a beat either.
"Pretty baby," he said as he stroked her back.
Immediately, everyone began laughing. Before Geet knew it, it was just her and Maan in the kitchens because Meera and Naintara had joined Roshni to play. The sound of mobiles, toys and music could be heard. Once the dishes were done, Geet went over to where everyone was in the living room.
"Time for bed," Geet said. "I think someone's sleepy."
"No! I'm not sleepy," Yash wined.
"Me either," Naintara said.
"Umm…I kind of meant the baby," Geet said pointing to Roshni who yawned.
"Oh right," Yash said.
Geet gathered Roshni in her arms and took her up stairs. Maan in the mean time had to take the trash out and called to check on one of his ICU patients. He came back into the house about 20 minutes later and found it eerily odd. He spotted Geet putting away Roshni's toys.
"What happened? Did I just turn deaf?" he joked. "Where did the 'kids' go?"
"Up there," Geet said as she pointed up.
Maan looked up to see the backs of Yash and Dev standing outside Roshni's nursery, he was sure that Naintara and Meera were inside watching her sleep.
"They are something else," Maan said as he trailed upstairs to get them.
Five minutes later, Geet heard them come down, each one complaining and nearly cursing Maan for not letting them watch Roshni. They soon began walking about Meera and Dev's wedding while the late night news played on the TV. Just past 12am, Geet got up to wash her face and change so she'd be more comfortable.
When she came out of her room about 15 minutes later, she found it suddenly too quiet. She spotted Maan standing outside Roshni's room and walked over to him.
"Where is everyone?" she asked, "Did they leave?"
In her mind, Geet knew that they couldn't have left, definitely not Meera and Naintara. As it was, they'd practically been living in the downstairs den since Roshni had been born. Odd, how Meera had given the place to them because it was too far from the hospital, but now she was living in it more than when it had been hers. Even Dev and Yash had stayed over a few times. Of course, Maan had made it a strict rule that as Naintara's brother-in-law, and as Meera's brother-like-friend, the guys wouldn't be sleeping with the girls. Instead Maan had let the two of them use the upstairs office which had a futon.
Maan simple pointed down below them. Geet peeked from the railing on the second floor to see Meera and Dev cuddled on one couch sleeping, while Naintara and Yash were doing the same on the love seat.
"Running after an 8 month old really takes it out of you," Geet commented.
"No," Maan disagreed, "Trying to compete with an 8 month old really takes it out of you."
Maan and Geet laughed as the looked at their pooped out family and friends.
They quietly entered the nursery. They approached the crib where Roshni lay, sleeping peacefully cuddled with her favorite pink teddy bear. Both Maan and Geet felt their heart's squeeze. They had finally brought their precious daughter home.
Geet couldn't help it and ran her fingers gently across her head.
"I don't want to leave her," Geet said.
"Me neither. I could watch her sleep all night," Maan added.
They both stood silently, with Maan's arms wrapped around Geet's waist.
"Her first night at home, I hope she's ok," Geet said.
"She'll be fine," Maan said to reassure her.
Maan and Geet both leaned in and kissed her on her cheek before stepping out to go to bed themselves.
Once they were settled in their bed, they couldn't get to sleep.
"I know the nursery is just next door but she feels so far away," Geet said.
"I know," Maan agreed.
They laid there silently in each others arms for a minute.
"Wait a minute, I have an idea," Maan said as he removed the covers and got out of bed.
"What?" Geet asked pushing herself up.
"You'll see," Maan said.
He left the room and went to the nursery. He gently and carefully gathered Roshni in his arms and patted her back when she stirred slightly. Once she settled down, he took her blanket and turned off the night light and walked back to their room.
When he entered with Roshni over his shoulder, even in the dark he could see Geet's smile.
"She can sleep with us tonight," Maan said.
Geet quickly made room in the middle of the bed so that Maan could put her down. When he did, she stirred again but Geet quickly patter her back so that she went back to sleep, snuggling close to Geet's arm.
"This can't be a good idea…it can turn into a very bad habit," Geet said softly.
"I know, but she's my princess," Maan said as he stroked Roshni's head.
"She going to be so spoiled," Geet said in mock frustration.
Maan laughed slightly.
"In case you haven't noticed, she already is," Maan said as he kissed
Geet simply smiled.
They just watched Roshni sleep peacefully for a while.
"She's our miracle baby Maan," Geet said as she reached over and touched his arm.
"She is and she's beautiful like her mother," he said kissing her forehead.
Maan used his hand to move the hair away from Geet's face.
"I never did thank you," Maan said.
"For what?" Geet asked.
"For being the love of my life, for being my wife and for being the amazing woman who brought my little princess into this world," he said. "So thank you for it all."
"I should thank you too," Geet said.
She leaned in, hovering over Roshni's body, and placed a deep kiss on Maan's lips.
"We are blessed aren't we," Maan said when the kiss broke.
"We are and so is she. So many people love her. What other child is spoiled by so many adults. What more could we ask for?" Geet asked.
"She did have one hell of a home coming didn't she," Maan said as he remembered the festivities of the day.
"She sure did," Geet said.
The looked at Roshni sleeping, oblivious to the fact of how much each person in this house loved her. They all treasured her from the bottom of their hearts, they'd all fought like crazy for her well being. But no one more so than her beaming parents.
Maan and Geet laid their heads down, and kept one hand securely on Roshni's tummy as they felt her breathe.
"I love you," Geet said.
"I love you too," Maan replied.
Then, they both leaned in and kissed each of their daughter's cheeks.
"We love you Roshni," they said together.
That night, for the first time in months, Maan and Geet went to sleep with smiles on their faces. They went to sleep with dreams in their minds and peace in their hearts because finally, their precious baby was home. It was a home coming that they had prayed for with every fiber of their beings. It was a home coming that they had dreamed of day after day. It was a home coming they had
waited for with every passing second of every day.
It was a home coming that God had finally blessed them with.
NOTE: while that is the "end"…I could be persuaded on doing an epilogue…depends on comments…the longer…the more chances you have…ps: miss pixie…im upset…I always wait for your comment and I don't remember seeing one for the last update…although you "liked" it…he he…im just saying…lol…
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Fantastic story Jaz! and thanks..I got to read it all at once...just when I was finishing the 2nd part of 9A..you update 9B..I didnt have to wait like others *sticks her tongue out at everyone*
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