The days passed. The hospital stay had become the new normal. I was now the longest staying resident of the pre-natal wing, on first-name basis with all the nurses, helpers, the pathology technicians, the lady who delivered food from the cafeteria, even the guy who came to maintain the AC! I did not know it then, but a lot of people were silently rooting for our babies. I would have an ultrasound every alternate day to monitor the heart-rate of the babies and to chart their growth. By now, half the medical fraternity in Dallas was fairly intimately acquainted with most of my anatomy! It is hard to be modest when you are clad in a hospital issue gown that exposes most of your back and your legs are more often in stirrups than they are on your bed together.

26th January dawned. I had made it past the coveted 29th week mark. My kids now had a fighting chance of survival. I wept as Ganesh hugged me. The haunting, melodious notes of Jana Gana Mana filled the room.

30 weeks were over now. My doctors were suddenly sounding cheerful. The funereal atmosphere in the room had suddenly lifted, giving way to more smiles, more cheer. I was beginning to feel happier too. I felt I could actually make it past the respectable 33-34 week mark.

And then fate intervened again. I was undergoing a routine ultrasound. It was the third day of the 31st week. The perinatologist performing the ultrasound was an expert in the field, known nationally. As he checked the babies’ heart rates, his brow clouded
over. He ran the probe again, the furrow between his eyebrows becoming deeper and deeper.

I could sense something was wrong. I asked the doctor what was the problem. He paused for a few seconds, weighing his words. ‘I am not sure I am hearing all three heartbeats Shefali. I think one of the babies; baby A to be precise, might be in distress. I think we need to have an emergency C-section’.

Baby A. That was Aadit. My baby Aadit was in distress! He had to come out NOW! Before I could assimilate the news fully, the hospital was in a tizzy all over again. My OB&GYN was summoned urgently; the largest operation theatre was prepared and before I fully realized what was happening, I was in the pre-surgery, bent over double getting an epidural.

I was wheeled into the OT at four in the afternoon. It was a cold, gloomy winter afternoon in Dallas. The glacial fingers of winter were tightening their vice-like grip on the city of Dallas. The day outside reflected my own mood, dark, somber and full of hopeless despair. I did not want to be cut open. I wanted to hold on to my babies.