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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Who Knows?

I have not blogged for over a week, but there has not been a single day when I have not missed Akul or cried silent tears of yearning. This last week Sunil and I were attending funeral services for a family member and we both ended up outside the church weeping for Akul. As we lay white and orange roses on the departed, I thought about that wise old soul whose physical body lay motionless before us, meeting my Akul. I silently closed my eyes and begged her to give Akul lots of love and then wondered if she would tell Akul how much his parents miss him, and how meaningless and empty their life has become without him. Would he then come to visit us? If he did, would he see the smooth round stones in the water fountain that read, "Always in our hearts - our sweet baby AKUL"? Would he notice that every picture frame is filled with him? Would he feel the pregnant silence that fills the house we once called home? Would he see the darkness in the oil lamp we light every time we join our hands in prayers? Would he see his little clothes, toys, bedding and bottles all tucked away in closets we are afraid to open, yet unable to close? And if he did see all this, would he decide to come back?...Who knows?

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Walking With You was created to help support those who have lost a child. They are a group who together share stories, helpful information, scriptures, encouraging words, prayer requests, and more. This week some lost baby moms who follow "Walking With You" are blogging about how they chose their baby's name and the special meaning behind the name. I learnt about this from Ella's mom's blog, and decided to join them this week. Deciding a name for a baby is a task that is time consuming. Like other new moms and dads, we too gave a lot of thought to what our baby would be called. After all our son would be stuck with this name for life and we wanted the name to bring him success and happiness.

Both Sunil and I poured over Indian names all day long and decided if we have a girl, her name would be Ida. We were undecided about a boy name. During our 14th week u/s, we found out we were having a baby boy. That time on, I saw Sunil surf the net for hours each day looking for a name for his son. Sunil read articles on numerology and sounds before deciding that the baby's name would start with the letter "A" and it would have even letters (4, 6, 8). We also wanted a name that would be easy to pronounce and one that would not be distorted by other kids at school. I really liked the name Aarush, which means the first rays of the sun. It had a soft sound to it and suited my child who to me was as pure as the sun's first rays. Also the first rays of the sun brighten the dark sky just as he was going to brighten our life. Sunil disagreed. He said "Aarush" was too common in India and too soft a name for his son. Sunil liked the name "Akul". "Akul" is another name for the Indian Lord of destruction, Lord Shiva. He is the destroyer of all that is evil. There is a story in Indian mythology that when the world was created, a pot of venom was found. If this venom was left unattended in the world, it would destroy the world. At this time Lord Shiva, offered to keep the venom in his throat to save the world. As Lord Shiva drank the venom, his throat turned blue and he was called "Neelkanth" i.e blue throated. This form of Lord Shiva, where he sacrifices himself for the good of the world, and has a blue throat, is "AKUL." We then googled the name and found that in Russian this name means "A Shark", in native American culture it is someone who is "looked up to" and in slang English it means "A Cool Kid." We had all our American born nephews and nieces say the name over and over again to ensure it will be easy for everyone to say in the US. I even asked my colleagues to pronounce it and asked if they thought the name "Akul" could be distorted. "Akul" passed all tests.

Little did I know that this name would come back to haunt me. As my baby lay almost limp in my arms, I noticed the blue tinge he had developed because of his brain bleed. He became AKUL of the blue skin tone. My husband remarked that we should have kept a more selfish name for our child and then perhaps he would not have had such a short life. However, I cannot imagine my "Akul" as having any other name. The name was meant for him.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A butterfly for Akul

Bree (Ella's mom) created a beautiful butterfly for Akul. Bree lost her baby, Ella, in March and we met in a local support group. Bree invited me to view her blog (http://babybutterflyella.blogspot.com/) and inspired me to start one about Akul. I remember her telling me that we need more support than what we get once a month at our support group.

Bree emailed a picture of Akul's butterfly to me and it is the most beautiful butterfly I have ever seen. She was able to capture my son's essence without ever seeing him. I saw Akul's peaceful patient face in that butterfly. Bree, I want you to know that Akul's butterfly is now the background of my laptop and is my profile picture in Facebook. I use Facebook to keep in touch with my family and friends all over the world and they all commented that Akul's butterfly is special. They described it as "fragile", "fits perfectly in the heart" and "perfect." The butterfly you made has acquired an identity all its own and it has become a part of Akul for me. I cannot thank you enough for your compassionate gesture.

Questions that may have no answers

So Annette came and our conversation centered around Akul. I enjoyed being with her. I felt she wanted to talk about Akul and was not bored or weary. I have not blogged about what happened to Akul because we do not know to date what went wrong. When Akul was born he was a small baby, he had a low platelett count and low blood sugar. However, he was very active. Annette was there and she helped him take his first breath. We heard a normal baby cry and we all heaved a sigh of relief. Akul was here to stay. My OB came and told me that I would take my baby home as soon as he put on some weight. His APGAR scores went from a 5 (1 minute after birth) to a 9 (10 minutes after birth.) His beautiful eyes were wide open and he looked at me when the nurse got him near me. He was so beautiful and even in my semi drugged state, I fell in love. He was transported later that day for blood platelets and the next day we were told he had a brain bleed. He was taken off all life support and brought back to us. When I saw him again, he was very different from the baby I had sent to "Children's." He did not open his eyes, though he would protest if I handled him a little. I had already lost my child. We are still searching for answers which we will probably never get. I was tested for blood disorders and all tests came out negative. We had an autopsy done on Akul and got no answers. He had no genetic defects, no infection - nothing at all. He was almost 36 weeks gestational age when he was born so that rules out very premature birth complications. No one has any answers for us and that really bothers my husband. It is almost like he needs to know this to preserve his sanity. So, apart from our grief that is what we are struggling with. This blog of mine is probably very different from my other blogs. Perhaps because today I am blogging for my husband. This is what he thinks about day and night. I hope some day we will have some kind of an answer that will bring him peace.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

It's all about Akul

Tomorrow Akul's NICU nurse and godmother, Annette, is coming to see us. I am really happy I will get to see her because in some strange way she is an "Akul" connection. When I called her the other day she told me that many times she looks at a new born and remembers Akul. I cried when she told me that. I was so happy to hear someone remembers my child other than my husband and myself. I know tomorrow we will talk a lot about Akul. I do not usually talk to people about my loss or the pain I am going through because everyone has their own agenda and I really have nothing new to say about my child. But I have not seen Annette since Akul's services, so it may be a little different. I baked a strawberry flavored cake for tomorrow and when I got the cake out of the oven, I cried. This was my mother's favorite cake. I lost my mother three years ago and mourned for her till I was pregnant with Akul. Then the joy of having Akul took over my life and everything else faded away. Now I miss my mother and Akul. I wish my mother were here. She always knew how to soothe me and make things better.

Actually a few weeks after we lost Akul I dreamt that I was holding Akul in my arms. He was old enough to crawl and wanted to get away from me. I looked at him and said "say mama." He just gurgled and finally said grandma ("naanima" in hindi). I called out to my mom (who was not to be seen but I heard her voice) and said "look at him. He said "grandma" before saying "mom" or "dad." My mother just laughed. Meanwhile Akul managed to slip ou of my arms and crawled away. I woke up with a start. Akul was definitely not in my arms. He had flown away. Perhaps he is with his grandma. But I wish he was with me. I miss him so much.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


A lost baby mom at our support group "Empty Cradles" told us how her angel baby comes to say hello to her every now and then. Her baby "Angelica", says hello to her in strange ways. Either her baby's date of birth or her name shows up every nnow and then. She has spotted her daughter's name on the backs of trucks, on coat labels and even on boxes containing dolls. I came back home that dayand talked to Akul. I asked him how he would show me he is around me. His name "Akul" is from hindu mythology and would be really hard to come across in the US.

The next evening my husband and I were watching "American Idol" and for the first time in the history of American Idol the judges decided to have 13 (Akul's D.O.B.is Feb 13th) finalists instead of 12. And wonder of wonders, the 13th finalist was an Indian, "Anoop." My husband and I looked at each other and I said to him, "Akul has told us he is here."

Again, we were in LA the week of father's day for my nephew's graduation. The night before father's day, I was in the bathroom getting ready for bed. The bathroom door was slightly ajar. Suddenly I felt Akul was looking at me, peeking playfully from behind the half closed door. He was not the 3 day old baby I last saw, but about 3 years old. My heart skipped a beat. I spent the next 12-15 hours crying. I cried for what could have been and what was not. I cried for my child who I miss so very much.

Monday, July 13, 2009


Here is something I wrote on Mother's Day:

Mother’s Day came and went. I am a mom, but have no child to love and hold. Our son, a three day old, small, under weight, dearly loved little baby, passed away on February 16th 2009. He left behind an empty space where dreams once existed. He also left behind a closet full of unworn baby clothes and picture frames of us, his devastated parents, holding our tiny baby. My husband bought me a mother’s day gift, a beautiful white budding rose which is as pure and as innocent as my child. The note attached to it read, “to the best mother in the world” and it was signed from my son, Akul. If my son were here, I would be tired because of sleepless nights. My breasts, heavy with milk, would probably ache from feeding him. Our house would smell of baby smells – baby powder and dirty diapers. We would probably be fighting over every little thing one of us did with him and we would worry and stress about him all day and all night. But we would be complete. Our dreams would be intact and our arms would be full. Now all I have is a single white rose that sits on my table and a note in my son’s memory box that reads, “to the best mother in the world.”


I have been blessed with an exceptionally loving and supportive family, very caring friends and amazing colleagues. My brother, sister and brother-in-law were by our side the entire time. The moment they got to know Akul was being taken off life support, my sister and brother-in-law drove down from LA and my brother took the next flight out of New York to be with us. We hardly talked to them during the days we had with Akul and the days following Akul, but I think they know how much we appreciate their being with us. We would not have been able to go through this without them. They were with us for over a week making arrangements for the services, attending phone calls, housekeeping, and praying. My uncles and aunts, Sunil's brothers in India, our family in India, London, Australia, our friends, all called and showed their support. Wonderful friends drove long hours to be with us on the day we had services for Akul. We recieved flowers and cards every day for 2-3 weeks. My colleagues - administrators, faculty, support staff and students all supported me during this time. There is not enough I can say to thank them all for being there for me. So if I am quiet, keep away , or am even short sometimes, please don't think I do not care or am not thankful for the love and caring given to me. I count all the very many blessings in my life ....


This little piece is dedicated to all the nurses who helped us through those very dark days of our lives. They were absolutely wonderful. They said very little, ensured we had everything we needed, and shed many tears with us. Annette, one of the NICU nurses spent time taking pictures of Akul as he lay skin on skin with his dad. She would come in every few hours to check on Akul. Perhaps she had a special connection with our baby because she was there when he was born and she saw what a fiesty little baby he was. She came in to see us even when she had the day off and my husband, Sunil, asked her to be Akul's godmother. Annette spoke at the service we had for Akul because both Sunil and I were unable to say anything. Another nurse I need to thank is Pam. She is also a NICU nurse who helped us during this difficult time. She helped me pump milk and feed it to my child and for that I will always remember her.


I just started blogging today and it seems like I cannot stop. I do not feel like doing anything but pouring five months of my thoughts on these blog pages. There is so much to say because we have lost so much. When we lost Akul, we lost not just our baby, but also our dreams and with him we feel we have cremated our future. Many of my loved ones told me about others who were having problems in their lives, but somehow, to me nothing can compare to losing a child - a child I had nurtured, loved held and cuddled. I remember my three days in the hospital, the absolute numbness I felt when I was told that Akul will be removed from life support, my fear of holding my tiny baby and my desperation to find one clue that would warrant putting him back on life support. I remember all the wonderful things my husband, Sunil, did. He asked that Akul be brought to us so he could spend the few hours he had with us. I remember his telling me that our baby is starving. I pumped milk that night andf we fed Akul with a dropper. I remember walking out with him and Akul into the "Healing Garden" situated in the center of the hospital, where for the first and last time he showed Akul trees, flowers, a stream of water and birds. I can not thank my husband enough for giving me those moments with my child. I was so numb and so stricken that I would have never thought of all this on my own.

Akul spent those last hours cuddled against me or skin on skin with me or my husband. For days after that we could feel his warmth against our chests. I sang him many songs and children's rhymes that I had written just for him. My husband wiped and cleaned him and wet his lips with glucose water. He used a balm on Akul's very dry lips. We desperately tried to squeeze a whole life time into those 36 hours. We cried many tears as we begged Akul to end his suffering and let go of life. How can one ask for something one dreads? I learnt that one can. Finally, on February 16th, cuddled against me, my son started to change color. I called out to my husband. He looked at Akul and then at me and said, "Our son is dying."

Today Akul would have been five months old. I can see all his 3-6 month old outfits in his closet and can imagine him in each one of them. He was a perfectly formed baby. His limbs, eyes, nose - all so beautiful. He looks so much like his dad. If you take a picture of Akul's and place it next to one of a younger Sunil, you will see how alike they look.


A few days after Akul passed away, I penned the following:

We waited for you
mom and dad
weaving dreams
“Whatcha doing?”
asked dad
every day
as he ran
down the stairs
“kick” “kick”
you replied
vanilla ice-cream
cold strawberry milk
you showed mom
foods you liked
Then you came
Friday, the 13th
roses and cream
a 3lb 3oz miracle
your cry rang out
My Beautiful Baby!!!!
I saw you next
in an incubator
I called “Akul”
You turned, looked at me
Your eyes said, ”Mom! my Mom”
then off you went
I smiled
my baby will be back
with more blood, more platelets
stable blood sugar
I’ll wait, I’m patient
God is merciful
I waited….we waited
Next day
my heart skipped a beat
“My baby” it cried
I called your dad
Dad would not
pick up his phone
“he’ll be fine”
I told myself
But my heart beat hard
Dad came
with empty eyes
defeated, he held my hand
“We have to let him go”
numbed, I stared
“go where?”
“go away” – “NO” - my heart wept
“not my baby…….he’s mine”
We were asked
“you want to go to him or
should he come to you?”
My little baby, you came to me
They took off
the ventilator, the tubes and all
you came into
my scared uncertain arms
my miracle – my love – my life
I looked at you …my metamorphosis
I became “Akul’s mama”
held you close
sang all the songs I had saved for you
cradled you, talked to you
I love you so….it hurts
my beautiful prefect baby
We could hold you, they said
for hours – maybe 6 maybe 8
but you my valiant warrior
stayed 36 more hours in our arms
skin to skin with mom
heart to heart with dad
Your tiny little body nestled in mom’s bosom
your beautiful artistic fingers
curled around dad’s
your perfectly chiseled face
framed by a blue cap
Our life! Our joy!
we poured love on you
2 nights and a day
in our arms
then Monday morning
cradled against me
you left
leaving us
our empty hearts
empty lives
empty nest
and your
empty cradle

Sunday, July 12, 2009


Our darling son, Akul, was born on February 13, 2009 after 35 exciting weeks of pregnancy. I enjoyed every minute of my days with Akul. Life without him is colorless, an everlasting gray day, but I thank God for giving me a child to love, eventhough it was for a short time. He lived in my womb for about eight months and in my arms for 2 days, and passed away on February 16, 2009. He spent his short life partly in the NICU of Children's hospital and partly with his mom and dad in a nursing home room. I was not able to share my perfect baby with anyone. No one oohed and aahed over him, no one had the opportunity to know him and resultantly no one remembers him. However, he came into this world and changed forever the two people who love him more than they love anyone or anything else - his mom and dad. He took us to others who have the misfortune of walking in our shoes and made us realize how meaningless life without a child is.