Our 5 years of courtship ended in our marriage in 1998 a dream that any young couple would dream of especially when it’s a Love Marriage. Towards the mid of 1999 we were very happy to know we were expecting our first child, a feeling full of mixed emotions, there was some amount of skeptism also because we were very young then I was 25 and Rupal was just 23. Our regular checkups with the gynecologist started and everything was well except that Rupal used to keep low hemoglobin since the time she conceived, which is a very normal thing in any pregnancy.
In the 7th month of pregnancy as she was still keeping very low hemoglobin the gynecologist suddenly recommended us to go for a Thalassaemia test. We were completely caught unawares and didn’t know what was in store for us next, as we both heard of this word “Thalassaemia Test” for the first time in our lives. We did the necessary test and got know that Rupal was Thalassaemia Minor, then she told me to go for the same test and unfortunately even I turned out to be a Thalassaemia Minor, completely unaware what was in store for us next, as we both heard about this test for the first time. Later on she informed us the consequences of we both being Thalassaemia Minor and the possibility of us having a Thalassaemia Major Child.
We were in such a helpless and precarious stage that we couldn’t do anything but to wait for Rupal to deliver. In April 2000 we were proud parents of our first child “Teerth”. After the delivery when my dad asked the gynecologist why she didn’t recommend the test at an early stage of pregnancy. She was unconcerned and said that “as this test is very expensive we don’t recommend it to all expecting mothers”. My dad argued and told her that it is the Doctor’s duty and responsibility to recommend a test whether it is expensive or not. To do the test or not is the patients decision. After this we did the necessary tests and got to know that our child was detected as Thalassaemia Major (means he had inherited the Thalassaemia Gene from both of us – This situation could have been avoided, had our gynecologist advised us to go for the Thalassaemia test in time), we were completely shocked and emotionally ruined. However we started inquiring through friends, colleagues, doctors about what should be done to come out of this helpless and hopeless situation. In the mean time as any parent would have done we started to enquire about different kinds of treatments available to cure our child from this disorder but to no avail The only treatment left to us was a Bone Marrow Transplantation (BMT) and the best Bone Marrow Donor for the same would be a sibling and that too we could carry out the necessary operation only at the age of 6 or 7 years. We found out more details on BMT but got to know that the success rate for the same is very low. Soon we met one of our close family friends who is also a leading Pediatrician and discussed the case with him and he told us the pros and cons of Thalassaemia. There were more cons then pros.
He gave us a very practical advise, “not to treat” the child and give him the best of life as long as he was with us. We were completely amazed and distraught with our friend first, and then a Doctor that how could he advise something so unprofessional to us. We, thought about this very seriously which included my family and Rupal’s family and then we came to a very tough and cruel decision and a conclusion that we will follow what our Dr Friend told us to do. In the mean time our Dr Friend also told us that if we are taking this decision than we have to go in for the second child immediately as Rupal could go into a depression being childless. So we planned another child immediately and Rupal conceived again, but this time we took all the precautions and did all her pre natal tests immediately (there is a test available where if both parents are Thalassaemia Minors the test can derive whether the foetus is a Thalassaemia Minor, Major or is a complete normal child if the foetus is found to be Thalassaemia Major you are allowed medically and legally to abort the child and if it is a Thalassaemia Minor or a Normal
Child you can go ahead with the pregnancy), luckily we got to know that our second child was completely a normal child (that means he had not inherited any of the Thalassaemia genes from either of us). But still we were under tremendous stress as we were more concerned on Teerth’s well being. In June 2002 we were blessed with our second son “Shlok”. By then Teerth’s health started deteriorating slowly and within a month’s time from Shlok’s birth the inevitable and unfortunate event occurred in our lives. We lost our elder son Teerth and life came to a complete standstill. But we had to move further as we had another angel to look, at our month old – Shlok. The feeling at this point of time was so bad that we couldn’t give any attention to Shlok as we were not in a condition to accept the bitter facts of life. It was a big jolt for us. We came to terms with life, although very difficult and started believing that Shlok was a reincarnation of Teerth because everything happened in such a way that we believed in it very strongly (it was like as if Teerth was just waiting for the arrival of his younger brother Shlok so that he could leave).
Life slowly and steadily started coming back to normal as we got involved with Shlok and all the memories of Teerth were very vivid (as we could see a lot of similarities between Teerth and Shlok). During this time we read an appeal in one of the newspaper from an NGO “We Care Trust” – where they were collecting funds for an open heart operation for a Thalassaemia Major Girl. We immediately collected the funds and met the concerned person there; she was touched looking at our response and especially when we gave her our background. She then told us about the activities that “We Care Trust” does of creating awareness on Thalassaemia and requested us to join the NGO as members. Since then Rupal, me, my dad, and Rupal’s brother have actively got involved with the NGO and help them in organizing camps. In December 2002 on occasion of our Wedding Anniversary we decided to organize a Blood Donation, awareness/ detection camp in memory of our dear son “Teerth”. The detection camp was a big success personally for us as after doing the test we got to know that a lot of my maternal aunts, uncles and a lot of cousins were found to be Thalassaemia Minors. Since then we have made it our mission that we personally will see to it that all our friends, cousins who get married do this test preferably before marriage or immediately after the marriage. After a few years we both desired to have another child of ours. But mentally and emotionally we had gone through enough of turmoil and trauma, so we were contemplating what to do next we were in a dilemma whether Rupal should go through another pregnancy again for the third time with all the pre natal tests and regular follow ups again with the doctor. She was not mentally prepared for the same so we consulted our families and that’s when our parents suggested that why don’t we go for – Adoption.
We thought about it for a few days and finally we made up our minds to go for adoption as we had enough support from all our near and dear ones in the family. Finally in December 2007 we went and registered ourselves for adoption we went through a series of documentation and interviews but at the end of the day we were relieved when we were told that the procedure was over and we might have to wait for 12 months to get our daughter and a younger sister for Shlok (to make our family complete). We started counting days and were waiting for December of 2008 to arrive with a lot of excitement. Somewhere in February 2008 we got a call from the Institute that they wanted to do a “Home Study”. One official from the Institute came home and discussed a lot of things about adoption and casually discussed the same with all the members of our family consisting of my parents, my younger sister and most importantly my son. One fine day we receive a call from the Institute that there is a baby girl and asked us to come and see the child (Rupal and I had decided amongst ourselves that if the baby is medically fit then she will be – our, despite the Institute offering three options to choose a baby). On the way to the Institute we were praying to almighty for our baby, as we sat in the office after a few minutes a lady brought a small baby in a white frock and we just couldn’t stop ogling at her. We immediately decided that she will be ours and informed the institute accordingly. The next day we took our parents to the institute and showed them our Little Princess. My mother lovingly named her “Prapti” – which means “achievement” which we actually have. In no time we got her home she was given an emotionally charged welcome by everyone in the family. She is a very lovable child and Shlok was happiest of all as he had a baby sister to play with.
Ever since Prapti has arrived our life is riveted around our adorable kids. (In our youth, life has given us plenty of “ups” and “downs” and has given us the strength to cope up with the same. All this wouldn’t have been possible without the strong support (mentally and morally) of our family members and the wisdom of “Teerth” without which we wouldn’t have managed to face life so positively.