The Story of Us

Self-em­ployed en­tre­pre­neur, brand­ing and pack­ag­ing pro­fes­sional, and baby food blog­ger at nom­nom­mum.com, Nameeta Sohoni, shares an in­spir­ing story of how she was de­ter­mined to nurse her baby girl Tara, suf­fer­ing from a cleft lip and palate, to give her th

Mother & Baby - - LIFE & KIDS - PHO­TO­GRAPHS BY AK­SHAY KULKA­RNI HAIR & MAKEUP BY SACHIN GATHE

My hus­band Ra­jiv, who is a singer­com­poser, and has com­posed and sung for sev­eral tele­vi­sion ad films and movies, and I al­ways wanted two chil­dren, if not three. We like the idea of par­ent­ing, nur­tur­ing and try­ing to at­tain an im­per­me­able fam­ily unit. So re­ally there wasn’t ever a de­bate on how many, just the mat­ter of find­ing a suit­able time to start our fam­ily. Both our chil­dren, have been a bless­ing to us in more ways than one. With Trilok, I dis­cov­ered par­ent­ing. Apart from en­joy­ing read­ing to him and gar­den­ing with him, he helped me un­ravel my joy for cook­ing, which led me to blog­ging about baby food. My style of par­ent­ing with him is one of in­tro­spec­tion. I am learn­ing to tune my­self to him. Some­times, he dis­plays ma­tu­rity be­yond his years. What I’ve come to re­alise with him is that I must be care­ful; he is my weak­ness. With Tara, I’ve learnt the true mean­ing of faith and pa­tience, of strength and per­se­ver­ance. My par­ent­ing style with her is largely tai­lored around her per­son­al­ity. She is strong-willed and rugged. I have to be her guide, but prac­tice re­straint. The truth is, she guides me; she is my strength.

Bun in the oven

My first preg­nancy and de­liv­ery was fairly un­event­ful. I had Trilok via wa­ter birth and I knew that’s how I wanted my sec­ond baby de­liv­ered, too. With the usual nig­gles there was a lot to be thank­ful for. I got preg­nant with Tara soon after Trilok turned two and we were over the moon! The ini­tial weeks pro­ceeded as usual. Then, the time for my sched­uled 17th week anom­aly scan ar­rived. We bummed around at the ul­tra­sound obliv­i­ous to the news that awaited us. Ra­jiv stepped out to drop my son off to play-school. I as­sured him that I’d be okay. We’d been through the drill be­fore. Mo­ments later I was trans­ferred to a room that seemed like it had a more evolved scanner. That’s okay though, I wasn’t wor­ried. Just as soon as the probe gave me a 3D view of my bub, I froze. I stared at the screen know­ing what I was look­ing at be­fore the sono­g­ra­pher could

even break it to me. It was so in­tu­itive, al­most like I knew that this was go­ing to hap­pen. I braced my­self and asked her if we were look­ing at a cleft lip. With a quiet ‘hmmm’ and a nod, she con­firmed my doubts. It was ev­i­dent that the cleft was rather wide and that the palate would be in­volved too. Tara had a “com­plete uni­lat­eral cleft lip and palate,” we were told. The sound of si­lence was blar­ing in my head and ears, and I had pins and nee­dles run­ning all the way up to my head, but I com­posed my­self and asked Ra­jiv to come back soon. Of course, I was dev­as­tated and while I stopped my­self short of get­ting hys­ter­i­cal, I was cry­ing. Fi­nally, I com­posed my­self enough to ask my doc­tor, “How do we equip our­selves to care for this baby?” She held my hand gen­tly and re­sponded, “I will help you fig­ure this out.” The drive back home was dark. I let go of that com­po­sure and all hell broke loose. I was swing­ing be­tween Googling the con­di­tion to be­ing hor­ri­fied that I po­ten­tially wouldn’t be able to put my baby to my breast. There were hoards of ques­tions plagu­ing me all at once. What were we go­ing to do? How was I to feed this baby? Would the speech be af­fected? How many surg­eries were we look­ing at? Which doc­tors were we to con­sult? Hos­pi­tals? At the time one thing was clear, Ra­jiv was my rock. We went back home and broke the news to our folks. They re­as­sured us that they were go­ing to wel­come their grand­child and this time it was to be no dif­fer­ent than the first. Both sets braved the news and were with us un­con­di­tion­ally for ev­ery de­ci­sion we took and lov­ingly lent us com­fort, no ques­tions asked. For such won­der­ful par­ents, we are truly blessed and grate­ful. As far as Trilok was con­cerned, I wanted to nor­malise fa­cial dif­fer­ences at home. We’re all the same no mat­ter what. I started talk­ing to him about how he was go­ing to have a beau­ti­ful baby brother or sis­ter and that he or she was go­ing to

A cleft lip and palate is a con­di­tion wherein the up­per lip and palate don’t gain full clo­sure, thereby leav­ing the nasal and oral cav­ity open. There can be a va­ri­ety of cleft lips and palates and no two clefts are the same. Some­times ba­bies are also born with syn­dromes and ge­netic fac­tors that re­sult in a cleft, some­times these are iso­lated cases. In any case, there are too many vari­ables, much like a thumbprint.

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