The Home Makers: “I Lost My Own Daughter but Gained One for a Lifetime”
I was 21 when I found out I was pregnant. When I told my husband, who was two years older than me, he didn’t take the news too well. He asked me to go for an abortion, but I didn’t want to. When I told him this, he said I had to choose between him and the baby. I decided to keep it and go back to my old job as a house help in Mumbai to be able to earn some money for myself and the baby.
My employer decided to see me and heard me out, and she was more than happy to have me back. She asked me to work according to my convenience and whatever suited my health. My primary job was to look after her 6-month-old daughter. I was having a healthy pregnancy and looking after a baby that young didn’t require too much of physical exertion. I’d just have to bathe and feed the baby while her parents were away at work, put her to sleep, take her for a stroll and do some other house work. I became a part of the family so soon. I had nowhere to go, but being in that house and with that family — I didn’t even feel like going anywhere. I was more than happy to be in the house all the time and work as much as my health allowed.
They would ensure that I ate healthy, rested well and took me for my check-ups, bought my medicines and all the other essentials. They even took me baby clothes shopping once. I never felt lethargic or fatigued in the months I was pregnant while I had to work. It felt very smooth. The employer’s baby was also enjoying my presence around, and she had gotten used to my giving her baths, taking her out for a stroll. She would play with me and would become restless if she didn’t see me around. Her parents were also at peace knowing that I was around at home.
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One day, the baby and I were alone when my water broke. I was in pain but I ran to the neighbors to call my madam. In the meantime, the neighbor took madam’s baby, and the neighbor’s son rushed me to the hospital. Madam and sir were waiting for me there and had finished all the formalities. They rushed me to the labor room and I was to have a normal delivery, but the doctors couldn’t hear the baby’s heartbeat. They opted for a C-section and delivered, but still there was no heartbeat. They tried CPR but without any success.
I don’t remember everything very distinctly because I was in pain, but they asked if I wanted to hold my baby. It was a girl. I held her and wished she’d come alive, but she lay there still. I don’t remember if I was crying from the pain or from seeing my baby dead. They took her away and delivered the news to madam and sir, and they came to visit me.
Nothing felt better than having them around. They took me home in a couple of days and of course I was sad and nothing seemed nice. For some time, their daughter kept reminding me of my own daughter and the fact that there would be two babies instead of one and it made me very sad. But I knew I had to uplift my mood and spirits. It was time to move on. They came and told me that I had lost my daughter, but their daughter would always be mine. I had lost one, but gained one for a lifetime. It was and still is the best feeling. We’re making the best memories, and I would not leave this job for any other in the world.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity. As told to Anubhuti Matta.
The Home Makers explores the untold stories of the home, the experiences of the people who complete and care for it. These accounts are often anonymous in order to protect the privacy and livelihoods of individuals who share intimate details of their work and lives.