Anuja Bali from India

Nobody told me. Why?

End of 2006, when we were moving from Mumbai to Gurgaon, nobody told me that life would be so different. From an independent mother of a child, I was to become a completely dependent mother of two children. About a month before the due date, during a sonography, my GYN was alarmed to discover that there was no amniotic fluid left and the baby was dry.

Nobody told me that directly from the scan center, the doctor would send us to the hospital with instructions to prepare for emergency cesarean. I wasn't prepared at all. It was the end of October. Our 4 year old was at home waiting for me.

Mystically, the Universe had it all planned. My mom had arrived at midnight, just to see how I was doing. I kept reminding myself that I was a healthy woman. Nobody had told me about the guilt I would experience after giving birth to a powder dry baby with low birth weight and baby jaundice. I took it upon myself to take extra special care of this baby who would always cry, sleep so little.

Nobody told me that by fighting this battle I would be sleep deprived, irritated, exhausted, but will still have to look after my older child who needed my love, care and support as a kindergartener. We struggled with the life changes, stayed at home, took special care of our delicate newborn.

Nobody told me that despite all the nurturing my baby would be gasping for breath at 8 months. Nobody told me how, disturbed and blank, I would have to rush to the doctor and spend that night at the hospital with this tiny baby on a nebuliser. Nobody told me how to deal with the feeling of being a bad mother who didn’t care enough, so the baby was wheezing and struggling to breathe.

Nobody told me from there it would be 2 years of this doctor, hospital, nebulize, routine that would take over my sleep, peace and happiness. Nobody told me how to handle my older child who was traumatised to see her baby brother - very often surrounded by gadgets - cry so much all the time. Nobody told me how to explain to my older child, without breaking her heart, why we don’t go for picnics and outings very much. The first two years of his life were a struggle. I was unprepared because I had a healthy first child who met all the milestones before time.

Nobody told me how to deal with this situation, I had never faced before. Finally it was time to say enough is enough and we decided to moved down south to Chennai. Nobody told me what to expect, but I had my baggage of bad experiences. Doctors were my best friends by now. From the adventurous, outdoorsy mother, I had become the overprotective, extra cautious worrier.

You would cry to know how my son’s first three birthdays were spent. Doctor's appointments, high fevers, nebulising, allergies, throwing up, chest congestion, colds, eye irritation, itchy red eyes and endless crying. It was not fun for any of us. I started noticing a good difference after his third birthday. He would not fall sick very often.

Slowly in a few months, he transformed into this super fun, chatterbox, little Harry Porter baby with glasses loved by all. We never imagined he could be this but we were very happy to see him healthier. Nobody told me that Gurgaon would do this to us. Nobody ever told me about the toxic air pollution in Gurgaon. Why did nobody tell me then that when I was breathing, my unborn baby was breathing polluted air, which did not harm me as much, but it was spoiling his health?

Why did nobody tell me about air pollution and how dangerous it is? My baby and the entire family missed out on the best part of his childhood, the first few years. How can I get it back? Nobody has the answer. Nobody cares.

But I do, that’s why I have now decided to be a Warrior Mom and fight for all the children’s right to breathe clean air.

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