“I am sorry. I cannot marry you!”
“What? Who talked about marriage here?”
“I know you haven’t so far. But I want to avoid that conversation altogether. I don’t see that happening.”
“Just hypothetically—if I may ask—Why?”
“Let us just leave it that. I don’t want to go into explanations!”
He finished his lunch as she watched him without speaking a word. He got up and left.
* * *
“Hello Dr. Verma”
“Hi! Please sit down. Dr. Canterfield referred you here. I got your blood work report. Your blood sugar levels are high. With your pregnancy, this can be an added risk. It is called Gestational Diabetes.”
“Do we need to worry doctor?”
“It is nothing to worry. You will need to take insulin each day before meals. You need to spread out your meals through the day and have smaller portions. You also need to monitor your blood sugar every day. If you keep your sugar levels in control, we can eliminate most of the risk associated with GD. I will see you again in two weeks.”
She resolved that she will take care of herself. Over the months leading to her due date, she created a regimen for her diet and followed it to the T. She would never miss her daily exercise and walks. As they entered the sixth month, they joined a course for new parents at the Birthing Center at the Woodlawn Hospital. They learnt a few more exercises, he learnt how to count to help her in breathing while she would practice how to push. During the class, she would break out for a few minutes to get her insulin and have her snack on time.
* * *
Dr. Canterfield was her obstetrician. He smiled at them as he walked into the room with her file.
“We are now twelve weeks away. You need to get an ultrasound scan done each week so that we can monitor progress. Is that fine?”
They kept their ultrasound appointments on Wednesdays and he would take an hour’s permission from work to pick her up and get the tests done. Two months later on a Tuesday evening, she felt unusually wet. The next day when they went for the ultrasound scanning, the nurse checked her and was alarmed. She did a preliminary test and then came to them.
“It looks like your water broke. Since when did you feel this way?”
“From last evening…”
“We are paging Dr. Canterfield. He is on his rounds. He will be here any minute. Don’t worry. We will take care of you!”
As they waited for Dr. Canterfield, he thought about the day when their marriage was fixed.
* * *
After a lot of back and forth and initial shock and disapproval, the families had reconciled to the fact that the two of them were serious about marriage. So, they took the logical next step of arranging the formalities. A date was fixed and his family visited hers.
He hated ‘Adai Avial’. Of all South Indian food, that’s what they had for snacks that day at her home! His mom looked at him and had a good laugh as the girl’s sister brought more Adais by the time he finished.
* * *
She was on epidural and her contractions had started. The paper tape from the monitor showed the start of a big one. He held her hand tightly and coached her on breathing.
She felt the pain shoot up her spine.
The contraction reached a peak. A tiny little head could be seen.
Dr. Canterfield used a pair of tongs to get the head out. The next contraction was coming.
In concert with her pushing, the baby’s left shoulder came out followed by the right.
The contractions were getting quicker and more pronounced. With one final push, the baby was out. Dr. Canterfield held the baby while the nurse cleared its nose with an extractor. Dr. Canterfield dropped the baby on her stomach and turned to the nurse. The nurse got a pair of scissors.
“Why don’t you do the honours?”
“Me. I can’t do that! I wouldn’t even know how to do it…”
“Sure you can.”
Dr. Canterfield thrust the scissors in his hand and he cut the umbilical cord.
“See, wasn’t that easy? Congratulations, both of you!”
The baby wailed.