June 4, 2021 12:30:13 pm
Dr Trupti Gilada, infectious diseases physician, Masina Hospital, Mumbai, was in her second trimester — pregnant with her second child — when the pandemic hit. The 35-year-old was not ready to stay away from work yet, more so at a time when Covid cases were soaring. As a frontline worker, Dr Gilada decided to work at the Covid ward till the last trimester.
In an interaction with indianexpress.com, the mother, who delivered her baby in August 2020, talked about the experience, how she spends time with her children, and more.
‘Dehydrated and cannot munch on anything, no matter how hungry you are’
“The pandemic in Mumbai started sometime in March 2020. And I was in my second trimester. Of course, there was a lot of hesitation about working in the Covid ward. One of the first challenges was to decide if I would be doing it but at that point, it was just a spur-of-the-moment decision because you realise you are really needed in the team to treat patients.
“At that time, there was not much data on what Covid does to pregnancy. That the data would probably be there over the period was there at the back of my mind, but not knowing how the virus can affect a pregnant woman and her child was in a way a relief then, to be honest.
“Being in the Covid ward during pregnancy was definitely a challenge. Being in the PPE kit for five to seven hours is not easy. It makes you feel suffocated, uncomfortable. Plus you are dehydrated and cannot munch on anything, no matter how hungry you are. I think what keeps us going during those hours is just an adrenaline rush. It is only after you get out of the PPE kit, do you realise you are exhausted and drenched in sweat.
“Apart from those few hours, I was following a regular diet, as recommended during pregnancy. This pretty much went on until June, when I reached my last trimester. That is when the process started making me more and more exhausted. There was this one time when I nearly had a blackout in the Covid ward. That was a sign and I realised I could not continue like this anymore. Post-June, I took a break from Covid duty although I kept seeing patients until the day before I delivered. My little one was born three weeks before the due date.
“I am happy I could fulfill my responsibilities and really fortunate that my baby was born healthy.”
‘We appreciate frontline workers, we often forget to thank their families’
“When the family is so supportive, it makes things easier. My parents, in-laws, and husband did not resist when I told them about my decision to work at the Covid ward. They said, ‘If this is what you want to do and if you are comfortable, given your pregnancy, go ahead and take the maximum precautions.’ That’s what we all do, right? Whenever we step out, we just take all precautions. And it is not just true for me, it is true for families of all frontline workers. While we appreciate them for their efforts, we often forget to thank their families. If it was not for them, we would not have been able to give our 100 per cent at work.”
‘I really look forward to spending time with my kids’
“I rejoined Covid duty three months later. The constant fear of bringing the infection back home was at its peak in the first wave. But then, we have all learned to live with it. My fears are similar to any other mother.
“My baby was exclusively breastfed for six months. I would express my milk and then my husband or the baby’s grandparents would feed her.
“Once I am back home, I look forward to spending time with my children, while taking necessary precautions. It is very difficult to be masked at home. One should be extremely well-masked when outside the home and follow all the Covid-appropriate behaviour, down to every detail. It has been nearly 1.5 years of pandemic and thankfully, I have not had Covid. So, I know masking really helps.
“Flexible work hours have been helped me juggle my timings and spend time with the children. Yes, the pandemic has been tough on kids — I can definitely see that with my five-year-old. While they are confined at home, we, as parents, are trying to play different roles, from being a teacher to a friend. And it has not been easy on parents either.”
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