Sunday was Mother’s Day, and it would have been a joyous occasion for the Chawlas had coronavirus not taken the lives of Dr Dimple Arora and her unborn child. Instead the family spent the day remembering Dr Dimple, fondly called Dipika by her friends and family, and Ravish Chawla tweeted a video of his wife in which she cautioned people against the virus. While sharing it, Chawla wished her a ‘Happy Mother’s Day’.
In the video, she says, “Don’t take corona lightly… Bad symptoms… I’m not able to speak. Please wear a mask when you interact with people for the safety of your near and dear ones. I really pray no one goes through this. I don’t want anybody to have these symptoms. Please don’t be irresponsible because there are elderly people, pregnant women, children at your home. I always want to work. I was so active but my body is giving up now." Arora had contracted the virus in her seventh month of pregnancy and succumbed to it on April 26, a day after losing her unborn child. The baby died in her womb following which the doctors had to conduct a surgery.
“My three-and-a-half year old son has gone quiet. When his mother was hospitalised, he would see people praying to God and would say, ‘God, please cure Mumma’. But now, whenever her name comes up, people break down. He has also stopped asking us when will she come back. It seems as if he knows. Sometimes, he still asks about her but is quiet most of the times when he sees our family picture," Chawla told PTI.
Chawla said his heart breaks every time he hears his son ask for his mother but he can’t tell him anything since he is too young to understand the enormity of the loss. Dimple was an MDS in Public Health Dentistry and took all possible precautions against the virus, Chawla said, adding that she would wear two or even three masks and sometimes even the PPE kit when she stepped out during her pregnancy.
“She would always say, ‘I don’t want to contract the virus during my pregnancy’. We live in a joint family and one day we celebrated my cousin’s birthday on our terrace. “There she and other women of my family got infected and the very next day she and my son tested positive, while I tested negative. We immediately decided to quarantine ourselves and stay away from my dad who is a heart patient and has diabetes," Chawla recalled. The couple, along with their son, shifted to Dipika’s house in Faridabad where they had a full floor to themselves. Dimple tested positive through a rapid antigen test on April 11. After a few days, even her RTPCR test came positive.
Their son, who tested positive for the infection, recovered within a week of taking medication, but she had high fever and a cough which developed into wheezing. Her husband said that she didn’t take many medicines and even avoided undergoing a CT scan and X-ray since she thought they might harm the baby. “We were very certain that given her health and willpower we’d easily defeat the virus. But it wasn’t to be. She was very concerned about the baby and decided not to take some medicines. We couldn’t even do a CT scan of her chest as she feared that radiations may harm the baby. She had consistent fever and after a few days her oxygen level suddenly fell and we took her to a hospital in Faridabad," he said.
At the hospital, she was administered remdesivir and plasma therapy, but on April 25, she developed pain in her abdomen and the ultrasound revealed that she had lost her baby. “I didn’t have the courage to tell her," he said.
“The pulmonologist told me that we need to take the baby out and she needs to be informed about the baby’s demise so that she’s prepared. He even told her but she was not in a condition to process it," he added. After the operation, she kept asking about the baby. Initially, I told her that the baby is in ICU and I do not know about the child’s condition but her oxygen levels started dropping.
“Then I had to lie to her. I told her that she had given birth to a baby boy and he was in the NICU," Chawla said, adding that she said she wanted a baby girl this time but was happy nevertheless. “We could immediately see an increase in her O2 levels but the next day, we lost her. She didn’t want to die," Chawla, said with a heavy voice.
Chawla said he wants his son to know that his mother was a brave woman. “I want him to grow up and know that she was a brave woman, who even when she was in pain, wanted to caution everyone against the virus," he said.