happy anniversary from your miracle baby.

my parents

Today is my parents 34th wedding anniversary and yet, our whole family is spread across the world. A time ago, we would have been piled on my parents bed, laughing at an American phrase my mom picked up from my brother, but of course butchered in her Indian accent. My sister would have been massaging my father’s head, (she is the world’s best at scalp massages), my mom would have her Bhagavad Gita in her hand, since most likely we all jumped onto their bed interrupting her nightly spiritual reads, (she always happily accepted and anticipated those moments of course), and I would put my head right on her chest to listen to her heart beat, my favorite. It feels good remembering that on this day, where I celebrate their love.

I tried to FaceTime with my father yesterday to tell him all this, but the connection was bad so will try again. Yesterday was one of those awareness days, too. There are so many it’s hard to keep up with them all, but when I saw all the hashtags on Facebook for this one, it caught my eye.

It was world premature birth awareness day. And I thought, wow, so much has changed.

33 years ago, on a cold NYC mid-December day, my mother gave birth to me. 2 months early.

Then the less than 2 lbs. of my early existence was rushed to special hospital for special treatment. And my new to this country mother, and my young father both prayed.

I imagine what it was like back then, before the fancy NICU rooms of parent interaction and promising technology and before people made a big deal about bringing awareness to babies who had to fight for their life.

I imagine what my mother felt, giving birth to me without her mother or sister by her side.

I can imagine all this now because for me, it was quite different. I had my sister in the room with me when I gave birth, I played spiritual music and had my yoga mat. My sister massaged my back as I bathed through contractions, my husband held my hand when I started crying, my daughter was healthy.

I am a mother, a parent now, and so I can viscerally feel the truth behind their words of nightly prayer with their best friends, as they all stared into the plexiglass window at my little body, chanting for the vibration that they created to try to heal me, lift me, strengthen me.

So when my parents called my grandfather in India on the phone, my mother’s guiding light, he said to name me Puja.

That is what I became then, their little prayer, the one that beat the odds, whose lungs grew strong without any issues, the girl who ended up being tallest in her class and who could run the fastest on field day.

And when I would hide my baby pictures from embarrassment, the ones of me in an incubator, my father would kiss the picture and say, “you were meant to fit in my palm perfectly, my beta,” my mother would hold my hand and say “you are my miracle.”

Their words of joint love that I celebrate today, they lifted me, strengthened me. Their little miracle baby.

I remember this one moment so clearly, as a child, overhearing a story of a baby being born earlier than his due date. Like me…but not making it. He was born too early, they said. And right then and there, I closed my eyes, held my little palms together and whispered, thank you for this chance.