Ankur Karn was just twenty-four years old when her son Aarush died of pneumonia.
Heartbroken by the loss of her baby, Ankur suffered with depression and tried not to speak about Aarush and the devastating trauma of his death for many years.
With this being Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Awareness (PANDA) Week, Ankur spoke to Mamamia about how she dealt with every parent’s worst nightmare, and some of the unexpected battles she had to cope with on her journey out of grief.
In 2010 Ankur was living in the city of Pune, India with her software developer husband Shantanu and they were excitedly waiting for the arrival of their first child. At six months pregnant, doctors established that all was not well and Ankur was admitted to hospital in her hometown of Ranchi.
“I was diagnosed with severe pre-eclampsia and because of my extremely high blood pressure, I was told I needed complete bed rest. I had to lie mostly on my left side and I wasn’t allowed to eat much or even watch television and as it was a particularly hot time of year, it was miserable. I didn’t know how long I could go on like that and I was very worried for my baby.”
As Ankur reached the seven-month mark, doctors made the decision to deliver her baby to give them both the best chance of survival.
“I was asleep when he was born by c-section on 26 March 2010 and he was immediately whisked away to a specialist children’s hospital. When I came around I was in agony, yet desperate to hold my new baby son.”
After three days on enforced bed rest to bring her blood pressure back down, then another few days of rest, Ankur travelled to the ICU to meet baby Aarush for the first time.
“He weighed just 1.2kg and when I saw him in an incubator covered in tubes I felt sick with fear. All I wanted to do was hold him or even touch him but due to the high chance of infection I couldn’t. I would constantly check for his tiny heartbeat, desperate to reassure myself that he was alive.
“I kept thinking ‘why is this happening to us?” and that I must have done something terrible. Up until those last few months, I had been blessed with a happy life and a loving family and yet there I was in a children’s ICU witnessing so much pain and suffering.”
After two and a half long months Ankur and Shantanu were allowed to finally take Aarush home. The extended family were overjoyed and the new baby was showered with generous gifts and much love.
“I could finally feed him, dress him and hold him. He was cooing and responding to me, it was a wonderful time.”
After a few happy weeks, Ankur became concerned that all was not well when Aarush began struggling to breathe.
“We raced him to the hospital as fast as we could. Doctors admitted and diagnosed him with pneumonia. It was agony as once again we had to wait and watch through a glass window as they tried and failed multiple times to put needles into his worn-out veins.”