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Tonight was going to be a big night – BIG night. Quite possibly the most important night in her relationship with Dev. Tonight she was going to meet the parents. Dev was the only child of Mr. and Mrs. Jatin Chopra. He was the golden child, the apple of everyone's eye. Therefore it went without saying that anyone linked to him would have to be nothing short of perfect.
Meera closed her eyes and took a deep breath as she entered the restaurant with Dev.
"Relax," he whispered into her ear as she helped her out of her coat. "They are just my parents, not an inquisition."
Meera could only scoff and smile at him.
Easy for him to say, they were his parents – who just happened to be two of the most formidable lawyers on the West coast.
Meera quickly ran her fingers through her hair, and then smoothed out her dress as she asked, "How do I look?"
Dev gave her a once over.
She was dressed in a simple, sleeveless, black lace dress that had a satin white sash which tied at the back. She had on diamond solitaire earrings – a gift from Dev on their one year anniversary. She also had on a heart pendant and watch. She was off duty for the night. No one was to bother her no matter what. All of her patients were being looked after by a fellow colleague. Nothing was going to interrupt this evening – nothing.
"Beautiful…as always," he said.
He then leaned in and placed a soft kiss on her temple.
"They are going to love you, just like I love you," he stated as he slid his hand into hers.
Meera smiled weakly. She could do this. They were only people, right?
Every bit of confidence that Meera had died the minute they walked into the dining area and she saw his parents. To say that they looked intimidating was an understatement. Both were dressed in power suits, and had expressions that could make anyone break.
Amazingly, the dinner was going off without a hitch. As foreboding as the Chopra's may look, at heart they were such warm people. They had welcomed Meera with open arms, literally. Everything was going just amazing.
However, half way through dinner it turned upside down.
"Dr. Singhania?" a waiter inquired.
"Yes," Meera said, confused.
"There's a call for you at the reception desk," he informed.
"What? Are you sure? You must be mistaken," Meera said.
No one was supposed to bother her. This is exactly why she put her phone on silent and left her pager in her locker.
"The caller specifically asked for you…they described what you were wearing," the waiter said.
Oh this was embarrassing.
Turning to Mr. and Mrs. Chopra, she excused herself.
"I'm so sorry, but if you'll excuse me I'll take care of this in a minute," she said as she placed her napkin on the table.
Dev was already on his feet and proceeded to pull her chair out so that she could get up.
"I swear only one nurse has my number for serious emergencies only," Meera said. "…oh and Naintara."
Meera had actually gotten ready at Maan and Geet's place, because she was so indecisive at her place. She didn't know what to wear, how to do her hair – she was like a fish out of water. Thank God that Naintara was more than willing to take care of everything.
"It's ok," Dev said reassuringly.
Meera walked over to the reception area, all the while cursing Nurse Ally for calling.
"Someone had better be dying," Meera muttered under her breath.
A staff member handed her the phone.
"What?!" Meera barked.
Less than 30 seconds, Meera was rushing her way back to her table.
"That was qui…" Dev began.
"I have to go," Meera said as she reached for her purse.
Her hands were already shaking, causing her to drop her purse and spill its content.
Seven missed calls – of course.
"Babe, are you ok?" Dev asked.
"What's going on?" Mrs. Chopra asked. "Is everything alright dear?"
Meera was too frantic to answer any questions or even pay attention.
"Meera…" Dev called.
Meera looked up at him, tears swimming in her eyes.
"It's Geet," she said simply.
All she could feel was shaking, voices talking and the blaring of sirens. She fought with all her might to open her eyes, but that was easier said than done. She heard him calling to her. His velvety voice broke through all other sounds.
"Geet…Geet…open your eyes honey," he pleaded.
She could also feel his hand grasping onto hers tightly.
"Please honey, just open your eyes…I'm here," he said.
Geet fought will all she could and finally – finally – managed to open her eyes.
The bright lights over her nearly blinded her and hurt her eyes. She tried moving but her entire body aches, especially her midsection. That is when she realized she was in an ambulance.
"M…Maan," she called out weakly, not sure if he'd heard her.
"Oh thank God," he said, as he kissed her forehead.
"Maan…s…save our baby," Geet managed to get out.
However, as soon as she did, she felt the darkness closing in on her again.
"No! No Geet! Stay with me Geet!" he yelled.
She could hear his voice drown out as if she was being taken far away from him.
Maan called out to her but she didn't stay with him. He couldn't think straight at this point. The minute he'd seen Geet fall to the floor his mind began racing with a million worries. The second he'd seen blood oozing out of her, his mind began racing with a million more worries. Immediately after Naintara called 911, Maan tried calling Meera's cell but it kept going to voicemail. He called the hospital only to discover she had the night off and was not on call. Maan was about to pull his hair out when Naintara had said she knew where Meera was. He breathed a small sigh of relief.
Now, as the ambulance rounded the corner and pulled into the ER of the hospital, Maan saw hope again. Geet was going to get the medical attention she desperately needed. The doors opened and both the EMT's came around to pull out the gurney that Geet lay on. Jumping out, one of his hands gripped Geet's, while the other he put protectively on belly.
"21 year old pregnant female found unconscious with bleeding," one of the EMT's began to say.
"Take her into Trauma 1," a doctor instructed.
"Dr. Singhania…where is Dr. Singhania?" Maan asked as he looked around for Meera.
"She's not on duty tonight Dr. Khurana," a nurse said.
"I want Dr. Singhania!" Maan roared.
Everyone was taken aback by his sudden out burst.
"Here…" a voice came from behind them. "I'm here."
Turning Maan saw Meera rush in with Dev following close behind.
"What happened?" Meera asked as she quickly looked over Geet's field vitals.
"She said she wasn't feeling well and passed out just seconds later," Maan said.
"She's bleeding," Naintara added.
By this time they were in the trauma room. Meera was putting on gloves while the EMT's placed their gurney next to the bed in the trauma room.
"On my count of three…" Meera instructed.
Maan went to the side where Meera stood and grabbed onto the sheet to help slide Geet from one gurney to the other.
"One…two…three," Meera called.
Instantly, and smoothly Geet was transferred to the hospital's bed.
"Oh God," Meera said.
Maan followed her eyes only to see Meera staring at the bloody sheets that Geet was lying on top of.
"I need a fetal monitor stat, two units of O nege and someone page Dr. Collins," Meera ordered.
Dr. Collins was one of the leading doctors in neonatology – caring for new born/premature babies.
She took a stethoscope and was placing the buds in her ear.
"I need everyone out," she ordered.
"I'm not going anywhere," Maan said.
Meera stopped what she was doing.
"I can't work on her with you in here," she barked.
"I'm not leaving her Meera…I can't," he said, as tears swam in his eyes.
He heard Meera sigh.
"Fine! You can stay for now, but the minute you get in my way…you're out!"
Maan simply nodded and stepped back letting Meera work.
It was too much for Naintara because he saw her slip out with tears rolling down her face.
As Meera examined Geet, nurses rushed in with a fetal monitor, IV's and blood.
Maan waited as Geet was hooked up to the fetal monitor. He stood silently waiting to hear the drumming of his baby's heart beat flood the room. Once everything was hooked up, the sound filled the room.
Maan's breathe caught – the heart beat was too slow.
"Shit!" Meera cursed.
"What?" Maan asked, although he already knew the answer.
"Placental abruption," someone said from the back.
Turning, both Maan and Meera were surprised to see a new intern standing there with a smug look on his face for guessing right.
"Get out!" Maan and Meera said at the same time.
The smug look on the intern's face was quickly replaced with one of shock, confusion and fear.
"The baby is in distress, we need to get her out…now!" Meera said. "Get an OR ready."
The nurses sprang into action just as another doctor walked in.
"Placental abruption, severe bleeding with the baby in distress," Meera said, quickly putting the doctor up to speed with what was going on.
"We need to do an emergency C-section," Dr. Collins said. "Have you called the OR?"
"Yes doctor," one of the nurses said.
"Alright then, what are we waiting for…lets move people," Dr. Collins instructed.
They all raced out of the trauma room towards the elevator and quickly up to the 3rd floor where the operating rooms were located. Meera went quickly to her locker to change into scrubs while Dr. Collins handled everything else.
By the time that she came back, Maan was already scrubbing in at the sink.
"Oh hell no," Meera said. "There is no way you are stepping into my OR."
"Meera, I won't leave her," Maan said as he continued to scrub his arms.
"Yes you will. I won't be able to do my job with you in there Maan," Meera said as she began washing her hands.
Maan knew she was right. As a surgeon himself, the last thing he needed was a family member in his OR. It was bad enough that while he was operating he knew that he held the life and death of this person in his own hands. But to actually know and see that he held the life of someone's father, mother, husband or wife in his hands. No way he'd be able to operate.
He agreed to leave.
As he walked out of the cleaning room he said, "It's not just some other patient in there Meera…that's my wife and my daughter."
With that he left.
A nurse was helping Meera with her sterile gloves, while another was tying the strings at the back of her pale blue gown. She cleared her mind of all thoughts and simply focused at the task at hand – to save the mother and child. This was just like any other case, any other patient. She was going to do her job just like she always did.
She entered the OR where everyone was ready and waiting to save the lives of this woman and her child. It was just any other woman and child – nothing more, nothing less.
As Meera came and stood next to the unconscious body, she groaned.
Who was she kidding? This wasn't just any other patient, this was Geet – Maan's Geet. This was quite possibly the most important patient she'd even seen and will ever see. She had to save both mother and child because failing to save either one was NOT an option. Now she clearly understood why doctors should never treat family or friends.
And of course, Maan just had to rub it in before he left.
"…that's my wife and my daughter…" he'd said.
Thanks! Not like she'd actually remember that! For a doctor he was a huge idiot!
Meera took a deep breath, closed her eyes and said a prayer for everything to be alright.
"Scalpel," she said as she opened her eyes and held a hand out to the surgical nurse.
The first incision was made and red blood oozed out from Geet.
Meera worked as quickly as she could because they needed to get the baby out of Geet before they started working on her. As she took the tiny baby out, Meera said another prayer when she handed her off to Dr. Collins and his team of neonatal nurses. Meera tried to focus on Geet while Dr. Collins got to work on the baby. From the corner her eye she could see the nurses giving CPR to the tiny infant while the doctor assessed the baby's condition.
"Come on…breathe…breathe," Dr. Collins muttered under his breath.
"Breathe baby…" Meera added to herself.
Suddenly, a monitor beeped.
"She's sinking," the anesthesiologist said as he got his feet.
Meera looked down to see blood.
"She's bleeding out…suction!" Meera ordered.
The intern next to her worked frantically to clear the blood so Meera could see where it was coming from.
The machine that was being was now flat lining.
"She's in A-Fib!" someone yelled.
"Damn it!" Meera cursed.
"Start chest compressions and get me the paddles," Meera ordered.
While a nurse gave the compressions, Meera stood by with the paddles.
"Come on Geet, stay with me," she said silently.
She positioned the two paddles on Geet's chest.
"Clear!" she yelled.
Everyone took their hands off of Geet.
Meera pressed the buttons sending a jolt of electricity through Geet's body causing her to jerk up and then back down again. Unfortunately, the machine still flat lined.
Naintara was an emotional mess herself – she couldn't even fathom how Maan was doing. She paced the waiting room, she sat in the chair, she had visited the cafeteria three times and came back each time empty handed. She was a nervous wreck!
How could she not be?
Her baby sister was fighting for her life. Her baby sister.
Naintara remembered the day her parents had brought her home. Geet had been a red and loud baby, which Naintara found highly annoying. As Geet grew, so did her capacity to be annoying. Whether it was breaking Naintara's toys, taking her clothes, writing on her walls or ruining her make up, Geet was a thorn in Naintara's side since she'd been born. But then again, what baby sister or brother wasn't. Geet always wanted to do what Naintara did – always. Of course it didn't help matters that her parents nearly made her take Geet with her when she went out while in high school. Who wanted their bratty sister as a tag along to the movies? No one.
But then, Geet began to grow up. She found her own life, her own likes and dislikes. When Geet stopped being so involved in Naintara's life, she had to admit, she'd felt sad.
One day, Naintara saw Geet reading a book and had simply asked what she was reading. That was all it took for Geet to get started. She began ranting about the main characters, the plot line, the climax and the theme. It was a lot more information than Naintara had actually asked for. However, it had turned into a tradition. Since then, every time Geet finished reading a book she rushed to tell Naintara all about it.
Geet was a very quick reader, so they'd built a tradition. Every other night or so, they'd go up to the attic where Geet told Naintara all about the books she read, while Naintara did her nails, or played with her hair trying out different styles. It was their moment to be totally girly girls and sisters at the same time. It was a tradition that they'd kept up for years.
Now, her baby sister who could blabber her way out of anything, was lying on a cold operating table, unconscious and bleeding.
Tears formed in Naintara's eyes at the thought of anything happening to her sister. She didn't know what to do – she felt completely useless. She couldn't do this on her own – she couldn't stay sane for much longer is she was on her own.
She told Maan she was going to get some fresh air and stepped out of the hospital. Digging in her purse she found her phone and punched in #1 on her speed dial.
The phone on the other end rang and rang and rang. Finally, someone answered.
"Hello Mamma…" Naintara said. "It's me…"
Maan glanced at the wall clock again and cursed. It was like time was standing still, but he knew it wasn't. It was driving him insane not knowing what was going on with Geet and their baby.
It did comfort him just slightly knowing that Meera was working Geet and the baby.
Maan looked up to see Dev sitting quietly a few feet away from him. Maan vaguely remembered Geet and Naintara gushing over Meera as she got ready to meet Dev's parents. It was a big night for them.
"I'm sorry about your dinner plans," Maan said, not sure if Dev had heard.
"Oh please," Dev said. "Don't apologize. You couldn't have controlled this any better than I can control Meera."
Maan gave a weak smile.
"I'm praying for them both," Dev said.
"Thank you," was all Maan could say.
He saw Naintara come back and join him.
"Any news yet?" she asked as she sat next to him.
Maan simply shook in head.
Nearly an hour later, he saw Meera walking down the hall towards them
Maan and Naintara both sprang to their feet.
"How are they? How are they?" Maan asked frantically.
Meera took a deep breath and said, "Let's go to my office."
"What's wrong? What happened?" Naintara asked.
"Tell me Meera," Maan ordered.
Meera placed a hand on his shoulder.
"There is a lot to discuss Maan about Geet and the baby," she said quietly.
"But they're both alive…" Maan asked.
Meera gave him a weak smile and placed a hand on his shoulder.
"Yes…they are," she said.
Something in her voice told Maan something was still seriously wrong.
As they walked down the bland corridors of the hospital, Maan knew there were more hurdles in his path.
When they entered Meera's office, Maan spotted Dr. Collins already there sitting on a chair.
"Dr. Khurana," he greeted.
"Dr. Collins," Maan said as he took the hand he held out.
Naintara sat on the couch next to Maan while Meera pulled up another chair.
"What is it?" Maan asked directly.
"You're a doctor yourself Dr. Khurana so I'm not going to sugar coat anything for you," Dr. Collins began. "She weight just barely 3 pounds making her a very low birth weight baby. We've got her NICU and are monitoring her closely. She is breathing on her own, which is great. However, we do have her on a monitor because there is a chance of apnea."
"What?" Naintara asked.
"She may stop breathing," Maan clarified.
"We are still getting her settled and running a few tests, but I need to you be prepared. She does have jaundice and we are treating it," Dr. Collins said. "She doesn't have any intracranial hemorrhage or hydrocephalus which is fantastic."
"Not all of us are doctors," Naintara said in frustration.
"Sorry," Dr. Collins said. "Her brain isn't bleeding and there is no fluid building up in her skull."
"That's a good thing…right?" she asked, unsure.
"That's awesome new," Meera said as she reached over and squeezed her hand.
"We are keeping a very close eye on her," Dr. Collins said. "The next 48 hours are critical but all the NICU nurses seem to have a vested interest, as do we all."
"Thank you. Thank you so much," Maan said as he shook the doctors hand again.
"Hang in there Dr. Khurana," he said just as pager went of.
Seconds later Dr. Collins left because he was needed in NICU for another patient.
"Ok Meera…how is Geet?" Maan asked.
He sat on pins and needles waiting for an answer.
"She's not good Maan," Meera said as she fought tears.
Maan heard Naintara gasp and clutch on to his arm – her nails digging in hard.
"Once we got the baby out she'd lost too much blood…she…she…" Meera struggled.
"What? She what?" Maan asked.
"She flat lined," Meera said.
"Oh God…she died?" Naintara said as she began sobbing.
"We resuscitated her in a few minutes," Meera said.
It didn't help.
"She'd just lost too much blood and was continuing to bleed so I had to make the call in that situation," Meera said.
"What call?" Maan asked.
He knew what was coming.
"I had to perform a hysterectomy," Meera said softly.
"Oh no," Naintara said.
"I'm so sorry," Meera said as she reached out to Maan.
Maan closed his eyes and took in that information. How was he going to tell Geet? How was he going to tell her she could never have children again?
Opening his eyes he asked, "But Geet…she's ok right?"
Meera looked down and wiped away tears that spilled from her eyes.
"I'm so sorry Maan…but Geet slipped into a coma."
The words hit Maan like a pile of brick. He knew that it was a possibility; he knew it was practically a certainty because of the amount of blood she's lost. But to hear it – to hear it made it real.
Naintara let out a loud gasp and immediately began weeping.
"We are keeping a very close eye on her," Meera said. "Once she's settled in ICU you can go see her."
Maan was speechless – he had nothing to say.
The three of the exited Meera's office and headed back to the waiting room where Dev still was. As soon as Dev saw Meera he got to his feet and quickly took her into his arms.
Seeing them in the embrace made Maan jealous. He wanted to hold Geet – he needed to hold Geet – but he couldn't.
"One question Meera," Maan said.
Meera stepped out of Dev's embrace and faced him.
"Could all of this been avoided if she'd gotten proper prenatal care?" Maan asked.
Meera looked at him, unable to answer.
"What's done is done," she said.
Maan closed his eyes.
"Meera, please," he pleaded.
He heard her sigh before she spoke.
"Could we have avoided this situation all together, I can't guarantee that," Meera said. "However, had she gotten proper prenatal care we could have spotted the problem sooner, monitored and controlled it."
"Meaning……?" Naintara asked.
"Meaning, Geet's chances of falling into this situation would be highly decreased and her chances of having a full term pregnancy would be significantly higher," Meera said.
Just then, before she could elaborate, she was paged. Looking at her pager, she quickly excused herself, but not before thanking and kissing Dev.
Maan saw Dev attempt to leave from the corner of his eye.
"Dev," he called out.
Dev stopped and turned back.
"I need your help," Maan said.
Dev was on the phone while Maan and Naintara waited for Meera to tell them it was alright to go up and see Geet.
Maan kept hearing what Meera had said. If Geet had gotten proper prenatal care they could have controlled her gestational diabetes, they could have monitored it and if they had everything would have been ok. He wouldn't be sitting in the hospital waiting room hoping against hope for God to spare the lives of his wife and child.
Suddenly, Maan saw Naintara get up.
"Mamma," she said in a whisper.
She let the tears spill as she ran past him.
When he turned around, his entire body erupted with rage. His blood turned to fire and ripped through every fiber of his being.
There in front of him stood the people he held responsible for this entire mess. There in front of him stood the people that he had been cursing in his heart since he'd returned from his tour to find Geet pregnant with his child. There in front of him stood people that didn't deserve to be called parents.
There…in front of him stood Mr. and Mrs. Handa.
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