Gauri was ecstatic—you see, she was enjoying her pregnancy thoroughly. At seven months, she could feel her babies move and kick around almost constantly. It had been a big surprise to know she was carrying twins. There was no history of twins in her or her husband’s family but Gauri felt blessed. She had conceived easily and the pregnancy had been mostly smooth. Now she was on her way to the doctor for a regular check-up. Over the next few weeks, she would finalise the birth plan, book a room and complete other formalities required before the babies arrived. It was all so exciting!
Gauri entered the doctor’s room smiling. She was lucky to have whom she considered to be one of the best gynaecologists in town. Dr Meenakshi Ahuja was cheerful, calm, and collected. She had guided Gauri through the last year, not letting her worry about anything. Gauri looked at her watch. She needed to reach home in an hour to let the carpenter in to finish work on the nursery.
Life has a way of turning around the best-laid plans. As she waited to meet her doctor, Gauri had no idea that she was already in the early stages of labour. Within a few minutes of examining her, Dr Ahuja ordered her to be admitted. The twins were only seven months old, much too early to be born and every possible thing needed to be done to ensure they stayed inside for as long as possible.
Within minutes, Gauri’s world turned upside down. She was not prepared-mentally, physically, logistically. There was no hospital bag, the house was not baby-ready, she had not even bought any of the basics required to bring one baby home, let alone two. She could feel the panic rising like a tidal wave. Her husband was on his way from office, equally shocked. This was a curve no one had foreseen. Gauri started prayed to Sai Baba of Shirdi. He was the one she turned to whenever things went wrong in life. She had faith that Baba would do what was best for her babies.
It was soon apparent that the babies were not going to wait. There was no choice but to deliver them. Incubators were prepared and Gauri was wheeled into the delivery room. The twins were whisked away into the Paediatric ICU as soon as they were born; Gauri never even got to set her eyes on them. They were too tiny and not breathing on their own. That’s all she heard the nurse say. Dread filled her heart and threatened to overwhelm her. How could this be happening to her? She had been so blessed. Then why did God decide to test her at the very moment when she should be the happiest? There were no answers.
A few hours later, Gauri was taken in a wheelchair to see her babies. She was shocked into silence. They were so covered in tubes that hardly an inch of skin could be seen. They were tinier than any human being she had ever seen. How would they survive like this? Gauri and her husband clung to each other like two people who were drowning. Gauri could feel her spirit breaking. She couldn’t bear to see her babies like this. What had she done wrong? Had she not taken enough rest? Been too active? This was her fault. She was their mother. She should have been able to keep them safe.
The next few days passed in a blur of pumping milk and endless medicines that the twins needed just to stay alive. And then the day came when Gauri was discharged and had to go home; leaving her babies in the hospital. She entered the house and burst into tears. It was all so wrong. She was angry with Sai Baba. What divine being allowed little children to get hurt and put them through so much pain even before they knew what was happening? She felt like giving up on praying.
Entering the prayer room in the house, Gauri paused. She felt broken. Kneeling in front of Baba’s picture, she wept. She lost track of time. Gradually she felt a feeling of peace descend over her. It was as though someone was there in the room with her, stroking her head, and telling her it would be okay. Gauri didn’t know how long she stayed there but when she came out it was with a new resolve. She vowed to keep Sai Baba’s Thursday fasts till the twins came home and promised to give up eating her favourite food for a year.
The next six weeks were a nightmare. Gauri spent hours in the PICU, talking to her babies, willing them to pull through. She would try to find a little bit of skin and stroke it lovingly. On the way back home, she would stop at the Sai Baba mandir and thank God for keeping her babies alive for yet another day. At every step she felt Baba’s presence. And it helped her keep the faith.
After 45 days in the PICU, Gauri and her husband brought their twins’ home. They were still tiny but they could breathe on their own and had started putting on weight. As she placed them in front of Baba’s picture in the mandir room, she thanked Him from the bottom of her heart. Baba had kept His promise. Her babies were home.
Sai Baba used to say that difficulties and obstacles come in our path to test us. A true devotee is one who holds onto the faith that whatever is happening is ordained by God and has a higher purpose.