One whole week had crawled by, excruciatingly slowly since I was admitted to the hospital with premature contractions. I was still on Mag. I was still paralyzed neck down, I was still lying in a little windowless room decorated in ten different shades of grey and I was still hallucinating like a hobo on crack! But I was still pregnant and that meant my babies STILL had a chance!

The minutes ticked away. When you are laying in a bed in a tiny hospital room the size of an average closet, the tick of the clock starts to sound unnaturally loud and ominous. But the clock was my friend. Each passing minute meant my kids had a better chance at survival. I was now in the 26th week of pregnancy, and still contracting regularly, though the intensity of the contractions had gone down a bit thanks to the Mag that was flowing through my veins. The hospital staff was still on stand-by. I now had a new target. I had to push myself to hold the babies in till the 29th week of the pregnancy at least. 29 weeks. That was the big viability marker. It was less than a month away, but to me, that month seemed like a lifetime. We were in the January of 2006 and I needed a date to focus all my energies on. I had turned into a child; making impossible bargains with God, cutting absurd deals with myself.

I would do irrational things like close my eyes start slow counting till 100. I would tell myself that if I did not contract even once in that time, I would be pregnant for another week. If I did contract in that time, I would be pregnant for another day! And then the next day I would start the counting again. Yeah. I cheated. A lot.

26th January. India’s Republic Day. That was my big mental milestone. I would complete my 29th week a day before that. I promised myself that I would be able to hold on to my pregnancy till the 26th January if I really loved my country. My father had sacrificed a decade of his life fighting for Goa’s liberation from Portugal. I was a freedom-fighter’s daughter. I had to hold on till the republic day. Every single morning I would visualize myself at the Republic Day Parade, still very obviously pregnant, cheering loudly as the soldiers marched past. India’s 57th Republic Day mattered more to me than perhaps even to the then president of India, Dr. Abdul Kalam!