By Moumita Dastidar
HOWRAH, WEST BENGAL, 17 June 2018 - “My twins keep me so busy these days that sometime I don’t even get time for my five time namaz but I am happy. I barely sleep at night and keep checking the babies after every few minutes. It is such a joy to watch them slowly growing up that you forget your troubles.”
Sheikh Mohammad Ali was at work in Chennai when he heard the news of his wife’s early delivery and rushed back to his home city Kolkata to be by her side.
“We were very worried since the twins were born pre-mature and both were so small. The girl weighed less than two pounds and had many health complications.”
In 2017 Sheikh Mohammad’s wife Tahmina Khatoon delivered their twins, a boy and a girl, at the local hospital in the town of Howrah in the eastern state of West Bengal. Born prematurely the twins had low-weight and several health complications. When the local hospital showed little hope for their survival, the family moved Tahmina and the twins immediately to Kolkata Medical College and Hospital.
“When we realized that the local hospital didn’t have the necessary new-born health facilities to manage the complications we rushed our newborns to Kolkata Medical College and Hospital which is two hours’ drive away. The fact that the babies survived that long drive was in itself a miracle,” Sheikh Mohammad recalls.
The babies were kept in the Special Newborn Care Unit (SNCU) and the Kangaroo Mother Care Unit for 20 days where they received the best possible neo-natal care and services by a team of doctors and medical staff.
“The doctors and nurses looked after them tirelessly around the clock. I don’t think I could have saved my babies without them,” said Sheikh Mohammad.
Since there were two babies needing Kangaroo Mother Care Sheikh Mohammad also practiced the technique which often focusses on the mother providing warmth to an underweight newborn by keeping them wrapped close to their chest. However, fathers are also now also encouraged to take up the practice, which is also important for bonding with a child.
Sheikh Mohammad spent every minute of those dreadful 20 days cuddling his baby daughter sleeping on his warm chest inside his shirt providing Kangaroo Mother Care support while his wife did the same with their baby son. More than one year later the twins are growing strong and bright, happily playing and laughing with their parents and two older sisters.
A goldsmith, 43-year-old Sheikh Mohammad currently lives and works in Chennai and travels the 1600 kms back home to Howrah to be with his wife and children as often as he can afford to.
“I don’t want to miss out on the happiness of watching our two babies grow. I keep thinking back to those days in the hospital when everyone in the family, and at one point even the doctor, thought that they wouldn’t survive. But I knew in my heart that they would be fine and that we would take them both home.”
The Kangaroo Mother Care Ward at Kolkata Medical College and Hospital was established in 2017 as a centre of excellence for Kangaroo Mother Care with UNICEF technical support and guidance.