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Maan, once again, sat in a dimly light room holding the hand of his wife, while she lay unconscious and oblivious to everything that was going on around her. When she had woken up from her coma earlier, Maan breathed a sigh of relief. With all the things that were going horribly wrong around him, at least he would now have Geet at his side. But here he was again, right in the middle of the worst nightmare of his life, facing it all head on…alone.
He cursed himself as he sat there replaying what had happened since Geet had woken up. He shouldn't have told hr about the hysterectomy or about the baby. He should have just lied and kept her away from the baby by making up excuses. He could have easily done it.
No, he wouldn't have been able to do anything of the sort. He couldn't lie to her. There was no way that Maan would be able to look at Geet – the woman he loved, his wife and the mother of his child – in the eye and lie to her face. He just couldn't do that. Since the beginning their relationship had been based on trust and faith, he couldn't shatter the very foundation of their relationship. He wouldn't do it.
His heart broke as he sat there silently while the doctor had told Geet what was going on with their daughter. His heart stopped when she began to bleed through her gown and then fainted again.
Maan had always heard people use the phrase 'emotional rollercoaster' – this is probably what they meant.
The only reason he was sitting calmly – well, semi calmly – was because Meera had told him that Geet's body was just resting. All that information and emotional turmoil was too much for her already weak body and mind. She would wake up when her body was ready.
Of course as a doctor he knew that, but hearing it from Geet's doctor made him believe it a little bit more.
He'd been inside the hospital for so long that he was beginning to feel suffocated. He needed some air. He got to his feet, then leaned in and kissed Geet's forehead.
"I'll be right back sweetheart," he said before walking out of the room.
She was feeling cold, like there was a draft somewhere. Geet struggled to open her eyes but when she finally did, she was greeted by a cold, dark room. She lay for a moment confused, not remembering where she was. In the silence that filled the room all she could hear were noises coming from machines and some hushed tones coming from somewhere. She turned her head to her left, and instantly regretted it because her head began to throb. As she raised one hand to caress her forehead, her eyes fell on the clear piping of the IV that was attached to her.
That is when reality set in. She was in the hospital.
Geet took her hands and moved them towards her stomach. She was half hoping and half praying that her baby was still nestled safely inside her. Her hopes shattered as her hands fell onto her flat stomach that ached. Her baby wasn't there – there was nothing there.
She closed her eyes as tears fell down her face.
She had hoped against hope that all of what had happened had been a dream – a nightmare.
Although she had heard the door creak open, she kept her eyes closed as the horror that was her reality sank in.
"Geet," she heard someone call.
It was Maan, she knew it.
Tears still fell from her closed eyes, and her hands still rested on her stomach.
"It's real isn't it? Our baby really is fighting for her life? This isn't just some horrible dream?" she asked as her voice cracked.
She felt Maan take her into his arms. Instantly her silent tears had turned into wailing sobs as she held onto him and cried. He stroked her hair trying to calm her down, but nothing was stopping those tears.
Her baby – her little girl – lay somewhere in the hospital fighting for her life and there was nothing Geet could do about it. The sobs came in waves for a while, Geet didn't know how long.
"I want to see her," she said, with her head still cradled on Maan's chest, "I need to see her."
She pushed away from him so that she could get out of bed, but he held onto her.
"You're not moving until Meera comes and checks you out," Maan said.
"But Maan…" Geet began to argue.
"It's not an option Geet," he said, his voice low and serious, "I don't think my heart could take another scare."
Geet fell silent.
"I'll go get Meera," Maan said as he walked out.
Geet sat and thought about what Maan had said about not being able to tolerate another scare. It was that moment that she realized that for the past few days, he'd been doing all of this on his own. Not only was their baby in critical condition, but she had been as well. He must have been so scared to have both of them lying in the hospital, their fates unsure. Had it been Geet in his place, she was sure she would have had a break down.
As badly as she wanted to rip the IV out of her and run to her baby, she didn't. Instead she waited for Maan to return with Meera. She would silence the horrible thoughts in her mind for Maan. He'd been there for her and the baby since everything went down, now it was her turn to be there and support him. Their little girl was in the fight of her life, they needed each other so they could be there for her.
Meera had not said what Geet had wanted to hear.
"I'm sorry Geet, but I can't allow you to go anywhere until you are stronger," she had said.
"But Meera…I need to see my baby," Geet pleaded.
"I know, but right now you need to get better," Meera replied back.
"But…" Geet began again.
Meera sighed as she made the final touches to Geet's chart, signed the new orders and then closed it.
"Look Geet, you won't be any good to your baby if you keep passing out every 15 minutes," Meera said.
"I…" Geet started, but quickly shut up when she realized she didn't have a come back.
"Meera is right," Maan said. "Get better, get stronger. Our baby needs her mother to be strong."
Geet knew that she'd lost the battle. Not only did what Meera say make sense, but Maan was on her side. Geet was sure that Naintara, who was at the moment in the NICU with the baby, would feel the same. This is probably the one time that Geet regretted having such a protective and worry-wart of a sister.
"She's my baby," Geet said adamantly as she crossed her arms over her chest.
"Yes, she is," Maan said as he came and sat across from her on the bed. "She's your beautiful baby and once you are strong enough, I'm sure she'll love to meet you."
Geet looked at Meera.
"You'll let me know the second you decide I'm strong enough to move around?" Geet asked.
"Yes," Meera said.
"Promise?" Geet asked.
"Promise," Meera said.
"You swear…" Geet began.
"Dear lord woman this isn't the 4th grade!" Meera remarked as she rolled her eyes.
The three of them giggled slightly, lightening the mood slightly.
It was late in the afternoon when Geet saw Dev enter her room. Naintara, Meera and Maan were already gathered there eating lunch while Geet watched. She hadn't had an appetite but managed to take down some soup.
"Hi Geet, how are you doing?" he had greeted her warmly.
"Ok I guess," Geet had said.
Before going and greeting everyone else, Dev walked over to Geet and handed her a bouquet of flowers.
"Thank you so much Dev," Geet said admiring the flowers. "You didn't have to do this."
"I wanted to," Dev said with a smile, "Every girl loves flowers and I thought you could use a pick-me-up."
Dev greeted everyone else before going to Meera and kissing her cheek.
"Maan I need to talk to you," he said.
"Sure man, shoot…" Maan said as he took a big bite of his sandwich.
"Maybe outside…it's about the um………orders" Dev said unsure.
Geet watched as Maan's face instantly became hard as he stood up.
"What orders?" Geet asked.
Suddenly, everyone fell silent.
"What orders?" she asked again.
She watched as Naintara and Meera tried hard not to look at her, Maan turned his face away while Dev eyes him unsure. She say Maan slightly shake his head up and down.
"Maan got restraining orders against the Handa's and Khurana's," Dev said.
What? Did she hear right? Did Dev just say…restraining order?
"You what?" Geet asked as she looked at Maan.
She saw his shoulders shag for a second before he turned back.
"That's right, I did it!" he said. "And I'd do it all over again."
Dev went on to explain that now that Geet was awake, she'd have to get a restraining order on her own because the one that Maan had no longer stood. However, the one for the baby was still effective seeing that Maan was her father.
"How could you do that?" she asked. "They are our parents."
"And they are the only ones responsible for this mess!" he had yelled.
"Come on Maan, its not their fault," Geet reasoned. "Take back the restraining order. I don't want it."
"Not their fault!?" he roared. "Did you know that if you had gotten regular checkups from the beginning of your pregnancy then all this could have been avoided?"
Geet had gasped when she'd found out.
"What?" she said, unable to believe it.
"Yes. The doctors would have caught the gestational diabetes earlier and they would have treated it sooner, decreasing the chances of complications drastically," he said.
Geet looked at him skeptically.
"Tell her," he said as he looked at Meera for support.
Swallowing the coke she'd just sipped, Meera said, "He's right Geet."
They all remained silent for a minute until Geet spoke.
"Dev, please have the restraining order on my behalf revoked," she said.
"But Geet…" Maan began instantly.
Geet paid no attention to him.
"But keep the one for the baby," she added.
"As you wish. I'll have it done right away," Dev said before leaving.
Two days had passed since Geet's world had shattered. Two days since she'd found out that she couldn't have children any more. Two days sine she'd found out that her little girl was teetering on the brink of life and death. Two days since she'd woken up to a reality that was more of a nightmare then anything else.
In these two days, not much happened, but then again so much had happened. She'd spent the last two days worrying about her baby. She'd spent the last two days trying to keep the pictures of a life without her baby out of her head. She'd spent the last two days trying to tell herself that everything was going to be ok in the end.
In the past two days she'd was given the news that her condition was improving slowly. In the past two days she was given the news that her baby was stable, for the most part.
Finally, just a short while ago Meera had come with some good news. Geet's labs were normal, her physical therapist had signed her off, so that meant she was finally going to be able to see her baby. If it had been up to Geet she would have gone instantly, but Dr. Collins – who'd kept her up to date with the baby's condition – said he'd check on the baby's condition before Geet came to see her.
With Maan back at work at the hospital, some what, Geet sat patiently in the room waiting for word. The silence was driving her insane, she needed a second person there. She'd asked Meera to stay but one of her patients had gone into labor so she'd left.
The door creaked and Geet saw Naintara come in with a large make up kit.
"Oh thank God you're here Di," Geet said. "I was going crazy in the silence."
"Oh boo!" Naintara said. "Here I was thinking you were looking forward to your makeover."
"What makeover?" Geet asked warily.
She watched as Naintara opened the make-up kit and began taking out all sorts of things. Geet was never big on make-up so she had no idea what things Naintara was pulling out. All Geet used was eyeliner and some gloss. Meanwhile, Naintara had always had enough make-up to supply a small village in India.
"Well, you're not going to meet my beautiful niece looking so dreadful," she said as she took a seat across from Geet.
"Thanks for the vote of confidence Di," Geet said rather sadly.
"Oh come on Chutki," Naintara said as she rolled her eyes. "I'm not being a bitch, I'm just saying that the hospital has had you so down, I just wanna bring some color back to you cheeks."
"I know Di," Geet said as she smiled at her.
"So…lets get to it shall we," Naintara said as she helped sit up straight.
Naintara began doing Geet's make-up, first putting on some moisturizer, when Meera walked in.
"Aren't we a little too old to be playing beauty parlor?" she asked as she joined them.
"Oh shut up and help me with her hair," Naintara said.
Meera and Geet both laughed as Meera took a brush that was lying on the site table and began brushing Geet's hair.
Geet saw Naintara coming at her eyes with a silver and painful looking contraption.
"What is that?" she asked as she leaned back. "Don't hurt me."
"Geet…this is an eyelash curler," Naintara said.
"A what?" Geet asked.
Geet looked at the shocked expression that Meera wore, as if not believing what she was saying.
"My baby sister ladies and gentleman," Naintara said in disappointment.
"Is she for real?" Meera asked Naintara.
"Very much so," Naintara said. "She barely knows the basics of makeup, if that even."
"I hate you," Meera said.
"Excuse me," Geet said, not sure if she heard right.
"I hate you," Meera repeated. "You natural look bagged you one of the hottest doctors in the country."
Naintara laughed as Geet blushed.
"You bagged yourself a pretty hot lawyer if I do say so myself," Geet said.
"Ya, but you have no idea how much money I dropped at the MAC counter," Meera said. "I'm telling you, I keep their business going."
Both Naintara and Geet laughed at Meera's comment.
Just then Meera's pager buzzed.
"Well, another water breaks," she said. "I'll see you ladies later."
With that she left, now it was just Geet and Naintara.
Naintara had done some simple make-up on Geet. Just some light shimmer eye shadow, eyeliner, mascara, a bit of blush and lip gloss. She now stood fixing her hair.
"Can I say something Chutki," Naintara asked.
"Of course Di," Geet said while she looked at herself in the mirror.
"Promise you won't laugh," Naintara ordered.
"Di…" Geet began.
"Promise!" she ordered.
"Ok, I promise," Geet said putting down the mirror.
"I was so scared when they took you into surgery," Naintara said. "I've never been so scared in my life."
"Di…" Geet said as she put a hand on Naintara's hand.
"When Meera had first come out, it was written all over her face that something was wrong. I thought…" she suddenly stopped.
"What?" Geet prodded.
"I thought she was going to come and tell Maan that he had to pick between you or the baby, because only one of you could survive," Naintara finished.
Geet turned and looked up at her sister.
"Di," Geet began, "You've got to stop watching those ridiculous Indian Drama's with Mom and Aunty."
"It's possible…" Naintara said in her defense.
Geet simply sat there looking at her sister with a look of horror.
"Well you always see it on TV," Naintara said.
"Correction, you only see it on Indian TV and we all know how logical and reliable they are," she said sarcastically.
The two of them stared at each other.
Then, without warning, the two of them busted into laughter. They laughed so hard that they ended up crying. It wasn't until minutes later that they both calmed down.
Geet was wiping away tears with a tissue when she asked, "How is Mamma? Have they stopped by at all?"
Naintara smiled weakly.
"Mamma and Aunty have both been in the waiting room near the lobby," Naintara said.
"Really?" Geet asked.
"I go down to give them updates every now and then. Uncle and Papa come in the evenings too," Naintara informed.
"Oh…" was all Geet could say.
Sure she'd lifted the restraining order but she wasn't sure if she was ready to see her mother or her father. The thought that her baby could have had a chance of developing normally had she been allowed prenatal care, it still ate at her. Had her family just been a tad bit more supportive, her baby wouldn't be in this condition at all.
As if knowing that she needed a distraction, Maan walked in at that very moment.
"Hello beautiful," he said as he entered with a big bouquet of roses and a huge smile on his face.
He came in and kissed Geet quickly on the lips.
"What Dr. Collins say? Can I see her now?" Geet asked impatiently.
Maan smiled at her.
"Yes, you can see her now," he said.
Geet nearly knocked him over as she hugged him. Maan had to brace himself with one hand while the other he placed around Geet.
Without wasting any time, Naintara helped Geet change into a clean hospital gown while Maan hunted down a wheelchair. Less than 5 minutes later, they were headed through the hospital to the NICU where her baby was.
The three of them reached two big, metal doors that opened when Maan swiped his hospital badge that gave him access.
"Now Geet," he began as he wheeled her through the hall, "You have to be ready ok? She doesn't look like most babies."
"I know…she's tiny…" Geet said.
"There's more to it," Maan said. "I don't want you to get scared of the tubes or machines she's hooked up to ok? They are all helping her."
Geet simply shook her head.
Her heart raced when she sensed Maan was slowing down. She watched as they approached a dimly light room where she saw at least eight incubator-like cots that held eight very tiny babies. The room was shielded from the hall via glass so that visitors could look in without actually going in.
In the row closes to the window, Geet's eyes fell on the only pink card attached to the cot. 'Baby Girl Khurana' it read.
She gasped. Her daughter was so tiny. Her eyes were covered with gauze, she lay nearly naked under the heat lamp. Her skin was so translucent that she looked like a small plastic doll. Geet watched as her little chest rose and fell with what looked like great effort.
Tears stung the back of her eyes.
"I want to see her," Geet said.
"Let's go," Maan said as he began to wheel hear.
"No," Geet said stopping him. "I want to see my mother."
"What?" Maan asked.
"Please…I want to see her…now," Geet said.
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A few minutes later, from the corner of her eye, Geet saw Naintara walking down the hall with their mother by her side. Geet didn't turn to look at her, she couldn't take her eyes off of her daughter.
Her mother stopped just inches away from her. No one said anything for a while.
"Geet beta," her mom said.
"Look Mamma, it's your grand daughter," Geet said as she pointed to the cot.
She heard her mother gasp.
"She's tiny isn't she?" Geet asked, a clearly rhetorical question.
Finally she turned and looked at her mother.
"Why are you still here Mamma?" she asked.
"What do you mean?" Pammi asked.
"I mean, why are you still in the hospital…why are just waiting in the lobby?" she clarified. "You didn't even know if you were going to be able to see me or anything."
Her mother bent down so that they were eye to eye. Pammi placed a hand on Geet's and gave is a squeeze.
"You're my baby Chutki…my baby…how could I leave?" she asked. "A mother knows when her baby needs her. No matter how old they get, a child always need her mother."
"You're right, Mamma, you're right," Geet said. "A baby always needs her mother."
Geet looked at her daughter, in the incubator just laying there helpless.
"A baby always needs her mother," she repeated.
"Yes she does," Pammi agreed.
"But you weren't there for me were you Mamma?" Geet asked.
Geet heard Pammi gasp slightly.
"You weren't there when I needed you the most…when I was scared and pregnant. You weren't there to help fight for me and my child," Geet accused.
"Geet your father…" Pammi began.
"You are my mother, you! You should have been there for me!" Geet suddenly yelled.
"I…I…" Pammi was at a loss of words.
"A baby always needs her mother, and it's because of you that my baby didn't have her mother when she needed her the most," Geet said.
There was venom in her voice, she knew it. She'd not only shocked herself with what she said but those around her because she heard Naintara gasp and felt Maan's hand on her shoulder. Her mother stood up and looked down at Geet in disbelief.
"Di, please take her away," Geet said as her eyes filled with tears.
Naintara carried out Geet's instructions quietly as she led their mother away.
Maan wheeled Geet into the room and placed her close to their daughter's cot. He tried hard to push out the scene that had just taken place before him. As much as he currently couldn't stand any of the four parents in their lives, and as much as he blamed them for what happened, a part of him ached at what it had done to the relationship that Geet shared with her mother.
Geet and Pammi had always been close. They never had any secrets between each other, except about Maan. Geet's best friends were her mother and her sister and it hurt Maan to see one of those relationships break. As much as he would have like to see it fixed, he wasn't sure if that was ever going to be possible.
He was brought back from his reserve when he heard Geet speak.
"Hi baby girl, I'm your Mommy," Geet said as she fought tears.
Maan's heart squeezed. He knew that she wanted nothing more than to reach out and take her daughter in her arms. She wanted to shield her from the harsh reality that was her world and make every bad thing go away. He knew because he wanted to do the same.
Maan knew he had to chance the subject before Geet emotional again, it couldn't be good for her health.
"Hello Dr. Khurana…Mrs. Khurana," a voice called.
Turning, Maan thanked God for sending Dr. Collins their way.
"How is she doctor?" Geet asked.
The doctor came and looked at the chart that sat on a shelf below the cot.
"She is stable," he said. "Her vitals could be a little stronger but they are not dropping which is great news at this point."
"Will she survive?" Geet asked.
The doctor looked at her and kneeled down to her level.
"Keep the faith, we are doing everything we can," he said before leaving.
Maan put a hand on Geet's shoulder and kissed the top of her head as they watched their daughter together.
"You must be the mommy?" a nurse said as she joined them.
Geet smiled at her softly while she made some notes in the chart.
"So, do we have a name of this little one?" the nurse asked.
Maan looked down at Geet.
He'd never thought about a name in all this time. He was so busy running back and froth between Geet and the baby just making sure that they were alive that he hadn't thought of naming his daughter. They couldn't call her Baby Girl Khurana forever, now could they?
"Actually no…" Maan said.
"Roshni," Geet said at the same time.
"What?" Maan asked softly.
"Roshni…her name is Roshni Khurana," Geet repeated.
The nurse smiled at them. "I'll get her a new name card right away."
After the nurse left he knelt down to Geet's level.
"Roshni?" he questioned.
"You don't like it?" Geet asked.
Maan could see the concern in her eyes.
"I love it…you just never told me you had a name picked out," he said.
"I didn't," Geet said.
"The only thing that made me wake up from my coma was a light that I saw. I felt like I could hear a baby crying when I saw the light. As the light began to dim the sound began to fade. I had to reach for the light because I knew my baby needed me," Geet said.
Maan watched as Geet put a hand on the plastic that surrounded the cot where their daughter lay.
"She was the light Maan. She was the 'roshni' that brought me back from the darkness," Geet said.
Maan's heart swelled with pride.
"Roshni Khurana," he said. "Our daughter."
He took Geet's hand in his as they watched their daughter quietly.
He didn't know why, but something in his heart told him, it was all going to be ok.
It had been a week since Geet had woken up, but today was the day that Meera have finally signed the discharge orders allowing Maan to take Geet home, or at least having the option of going home.
Just when Geet thought things were looking up, Dr. Collins came with news that sank her heart again.
Roshni had had a set back. Her vitals were sinking and they weren't coming back up.
Geet sat, squeezing Maan's hand tightly, in Dr. Collins office on the 3rd floor of the hospital. Her eyes stung with tears as the doctor spoke.
"I don't want to say this but I must…" the doctor began, "…I think you should be prepared for the worst."
"Oh God," she cried.
Her baby was dying. Her little angel was dying. Her light – her Roshni - was dying.
"Please you have to do something," she pleaded.
"We are doing everything we can," the doctor said.
Geet broke down in sobs as she held onto Maan. She knew he too was crying. Their daughter was loosing the battle between life and death. Their one and only daughter. They were so wrapped up in their emotions that neither had head the doctor leave, giving them time to be with each other and come to terms with the fate of their daughter's life.
Geet and Maan sat in Meera's office holding each others hand. Meera stood with Dev, who had his hand wrapped around her shoulders as tears fell from her eyes. Naintara stood by herself staring out of the window hiding her tears from everyone. Even Dev stood with tears glistening in his eyes.
A smiled formed on Geet's face. Even in such a short amount of time her baby girl had touched the lives and hearts of many people. It was evident that each one of them loved Roshni. Each one of them had made a place for her in their hearts, each one of them had planned on her being a part of their lives. In this situation, what more could she ask for? Her baby girl, her Roshni was loved unconditionally by so many people. That was enough for Geet – it had to be.
The door to Meera's office opened and Dr. Collins walked in.
"You paged Dr. Singhania," he said as he closed the door behind him.
"Actually we did," Maan said.
"We'd like to hold her before…" Geet began but her voice didn't cooperate. "We'd just like to hold her."
"Please Dr. Collins, it's a request," Maan said. "We need to hold her…and she needs us to hold her."
"Please," Geet started between her sobs, "She's my baby and I have to hold her before its too late…I just have to."
"Oh my God!" Dr. Collins yelled.
Every pair of eyes were now fixed on him.
"What happened?" Naintara asked.
"Why didn't I think of it before!?" Dr. Collins asked as he literally smacked his head.
"Think of what?" Meera asked as she came out of Dev's hold.
"The Kangaroo hold," Dr. Collins said.
"What?" Geet, Naintara and Dev asked simultaneously.
"The Kangaroo hold," Dr. Collins repeated. "It's basically skin to skin contact between the infant and mother that studies have shown improve the condition of the infant."
"Does it work?" Naintara asked.
"Yes. Studies proved that this one on one contact between mother and child is particularly beneficial for premature babies," he said. "We don't know yet exactly why, but the infants condition improves most of the time.
Dr. Collins explained that many empirical studies showed that by using the kangaroo hold, the mortality rate of premature babies went from 70% to only 30%. It was originally discovered in 1983 when a hospital in Europe was loosing many of their premature babies due to lack of proper power and equipment. The doctors had deemed it better for the babies to be with their mothers and stumbled across this process completely by accident. Within a few years, this practice was being used in most European cities and eventually spread throughout the world. It fires appeared in the US back in 1988 in Maryland.
"Well why didn't you mention it before?" Dev asked, rather rudely.
"I had thought of it but at that point in time she was too small and too fragile, she had just been born," Dr. Collins said. "Then it just slipped my mind."
"It could help?" Maan asked.
"I believe so," Dr. Collins said. "Will you try it?"
"Anything…we'll do and try anything to save Roshni," Geet said as she got to her feet.
Twenty minutes later Geet stepped out of one of the shower stalls in the doctors locker room. Dr. Collins had instructed her to take a shower to get rid of any perfumes or artificial smells, as well as lotions and other substances that could be on her skin. Premature babies were very sensitive to everything so it was best to keep everything clean. Geet wrapped herself in a large white towel, unsure if she should step into the main locker room. What if someone else was there? Now she cursed herself for deciding to not go home and take a shower here.
"Geet, no one is here, just me," she heard Maan call.
She breathed a sigh of relief. He must have heard the shower turn off and realized that she was out.
She secured the towel around her body before grabbing another one to dry her hair. As she came out, Maan saw her and smiled. Maybe it was the sun that was shining through the window, or the fact that after all this time there was a sliver of hope on the horizon. Or, maybe it was because for the first time since the nightmare had started, she was looking at him – really looking at him. But, like it always used to do, his smile calmed her. His smile sent butterflies scrambling in her stomach. His smile, reassured her that everything was going to be ok.
"Everything ok?" Maan asked.
"Umm…yeah…I just…" Geet stuttered as she glanced around the room. "All my clothes had perfume on them…I don't know what to wear."
"No worries," Maan said as he reached inside a locker.
Looking at the name plate above, it said, 'Dr. Maan S. Khurana'.
"You can wear some of my scrub bottoms, they are new so no worries," he said as he handed it to her. "I got you a clean hospital gown because the doctor will probably put her on your chest. The gown will be easier to handle."
Geet quickly got changed into the bottoms and gown while Maan was on the phone with Meera who informed him that Dr. Collins was ready for them to go down to the NICU.
Making sure the gown was secure around her, Maan and Geet walked out of the locker room and headed towards the NICU holding onto each others hands tightly.
Dr. Collins greeted them at the nurses station. He explained the basic idea and what was going to happen. Then he went off to get Roshni while a nurse led Maan and Geet to a secluded part of the NICU. Geet could tell that a few of the incubators had been moved so that they could have privacy. The nurse asked Geet to sit in the chair as she pulled the privacy curtain around closing them off from the rest of the unit.
"I'm gonna need you to take off the gown," the nurse said.
"What? All the way?" Geet asked.
"We want maximum skin to skin contact," the nurse said. "You can just pull it down exposing your shoulders for now and then we can adjust accordingly."
Geet nodded in agreement.
Maan untied her gown from the back and then undid the buttons that held the sleeves together. Soon she was wearing the gown as if it was a tube top.
The squeaking of wheels told them that the doctor was approaching with Roshni. Soon, the doctor and the incubator where Roshni lay joined them behind the curtain.
"Mrs. Khurana, we are going to place the baby on the middle of your chest, so if you could please take off the gown and your bra," Dr. Collins said.
Did he just say gown and bra?
The doctor must have noticed Geet's hesitation because he stopped.
"If you like I can have a female nurse of doctor come do this instead of myself," he offered.
Geet wasn't sure what to do. Would it be weird if she did ask for a female.
"Thank you doctor, I think that would be nice," Maan said in reply.
"No problem," the doctor said as he turned to leave.
"I'm sorry," Geet said.
"Don't be Mrs. Khurana. It's perfectly normal. I'll send in someone right away, but ill be right here if you have any questions or concerns," he said.
He smiled at Geet and she returned the smile before as he walked out.
A short while later, the nurse that had helped Geet get settled returned.
"I guess I get to do the honors," the nurse said as she put gloves on. "Are you ready mommy?"
Geet suddenly felt nervous. Roshni was so tiny and fragile, what if she hurt her?
"You can do this," Maan said as he placed a comforting hand on her shoulder.
Geet smiled at him as she looked at her daughter in the incubator and the monitor she was attached to beeped.
"Yes…yes I'm ready," Geet said.
"Ok daddy," the nurse said as she addressed Maan, "You get mommy ready by taking off the gown and I'll get your girl."
While the nurse was turned away, Geet let the gown slip low and leaned forward as Maan unclasped the back hooks of her bra, and took it off.
Geet held her breath as she watched the nurse take Roshni out of her incubator carefully. The nurse moved slowly making sure she kept clear of the wires and tubes attached to Roshni.
"Alright, here we go," the nurse said as she leaned in.
Geet didn't move a muscle as the nurse placed Roshni, tummy down, on Geet's chest. Instantly, Geet's eyes filled with tears. She was touching her daughter, she was actually touching her daughter. The nurse settled Roshni on Geet's chest and made sure that the wires were safely on the side so it wouldn't get in any ones way. Then she took a very soft cotton blanket and draped it across Geet's chest covering her and the baby.
Suddenly the monitors that Roshni was attached to began beeping. Geet immediately stiffened and Maan was on full alert.
"What's wrong?" Maan asked as he shot to his feet.
"Give her a minute," the nurse said keeping an eye on the monitor.
And sure enough, a few seconds later, the beeping stopped as Roshni settled.
"She's just getting used to her Mommy," the nurse said.
"Hi baby," Geet whispered as she looked down at her tiny daughter.
The nurse stepped back and smiled then mumbled something that Geet didn't hear because she was too focused on Roshni.
"How does it feel?" Maan asked as he sat down in a chair next to Geet and watched in amazement.
"Amazing," Geet said. "I…I feel like a Mother."
They sat silently for a few minutes while Geet got used to having Roshni on her.
"Geet what happened?" Maan asked, his voice laved with worry.
He must have seen the tears that fell from her eyes as she held her baby.
"I can feel her heart beat," Geet said with pride.
For the first time in days Geet cried happy tears.
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