It was the seventh day of the seventh month of the year. And it was 7 am. The rising sun was blanketed by black clouds and suddenly the waters broke out from the skies.
And my water broke.
My bed became wet as though I had peed, and suddenly I fell into labour; the mild, early stages of labour as Dr. Dotun had told me. That period where I still had the presence of mind to know what is what; and where is where. That period where I could still grit and grin. I grabbed my phone and dialled Dr. Dotun’s number.
“Hello doc, I think I’m in labour….my water broke…”
“Oh…great… I’m on duty, so I’m still at the ward…start coming immediately.
I dialled the hotelier’s number and he said he’d help me hail a ride.”
In no minute, my phone rang and the cab man was at the reception. Strong winds from the ocean bent the coconut trees towards my windows, and it bowed in obeisance with trembling murmurs. Then the rain descended. Accompanied first, by flashes of lightning and scary thunders. Suddenly, morning turned to night.
This is the coming of Justice! This baby must be dramatic, I thought. I had named her Justice because this baby would be the eponym of my life’s desire. Justice!
It was 7:30 am. I attempted to get up from the bed, and I couldn’t lift my legs. They felt like they had been tied to iron stocks. My lower back was on fire with pain. I could barely flex or move. After struggling for 10 minutes, I eventually, pushed my legs down. I donned a flowing gown, hoisted myself to my feet, and carried the knapsack that contained only two unisex baby clothes, one pack of diapers, and a blanket. I had never felt so pregnant in my entire term — this time, pregnant with expectation — and the expectation to see this product of a fling. I had thought it was a product of love. To him it was a costly mistake; a hindrance to his progress; a product of his pent-up emotions deserving to have been flushed away in Dr. Bosun abortion closet. But this child would soon bring joy into the family of a barren couple. This child would bring me the justice that I deserve. This thing called a mistake would be another opportunity.
As I got into the cab, the contraction increased with intensity and frequency. It would arrive with pain and I would cringe and bend over for one minute, and then it would leave me for about five minutes. That was one time I regretted not getting my family involved. That was the time mothers helped their daughters. That was the time when a spouse dotes over his wife with the expectation to see the product of their love. That was the time when family huddled together to welcome the new addition to their clan— a time when siblings and cousins, uncles and aunties, submitted their long list of names, pet names, and fond names that would describe their affinity to the child. That was an all-time heroic moment for the women folk. Maybe I should have told my mother the last time she called.
I didn’t know whether to be angry again. I had been angry all the days of the pregnancy and it had done me no good.
And then my phone rang. It was Charles.
“Today is our wedding day.”
“Didn’t Sheri tell you?”
“You are getting married?”
“She didn’t tell me.”
“I’m so sorry…I was wondering that I haven’t seen you yet.”
“Oh…sorry, I am at the hospital….I’m in labour.”
“What? Where??” he said.
The pain gripped me before I could reply. This time was so prolonged that my phone fell.
“Madam we have reached the hospital,” the cabman said, as he drove through the front yard of the emergency section.
He got down and help me get out, for I was in severe pain. The driver helped me navigate to the hospital emergency room.
While other people were being helped by their doting husbands or partners, I was being assisted by a cab-hailing driver. I felt sorry for myself. To worsen it, Sheri and Charles were getting married and I didn’t even know. I was an afterthought or precisely described, a persona non grata.
And then the contraction got a hold of me again, and I didn’t know when I yelled. Two nurses came to me. There were a few pregnant women also in labour. I noticed a particular woman whose labour was as fast as mine too. It was difficult to predict her age because she was unkempt and in pain. The man with her kept whispering sweet words to her, rubbing her back repeatedly. I had heard back rubbing assuaged the pain. But I had no one to rub my back.
I stole a glance at her again, wishing I were in her shoes. I saw her sparkling wedding band that made me conclude they were newly-weds, and on her medical record file was written, Mrs. Cole. A.D.
“Please sit in this wheelchair,” one nurse ordered me.
“Where is her baby bag,” another asked.
“It’s with him,” another answered pointing at the driver. Meanwhile, the driver was waiting to be paid for his service. He followed the wheelchair carrying me to the labour ward, carrying the baby bag on his shoulder.
“Are you her husband,” one of the nurses asked him?
“So what’s your role here. Are you family?”
“Please leave him alone. He is with me and that’s final,” I yelled as another contraction hit my lower waist. I was not ready for another session of questioning.
After five minutes, the driver made a face at me to pay him for the ride so he can be discharged.
As I was about to, another contraction interrupted my attempt to transfer money to him. I finally arrived at the labour ward and was placed on the bed. The nurses, all wearing white robes, white caps, nose masks and gloves, huddled over me. One, taking my blood pressure, the other passing a drip through me, and another connected the fetal heartbeat monitor to me. Another also putting on the delivery robe on me.
And then Dr. Dotun surfaced, in his white overall.
“Please monitor the fetal heartbeat,” he idled around the room, making notes.
My legs were hung on some metal holders. I shuddered at the remembrance of the day Dr. Bosun took me at the abortion clinic on Filani street.
The driver reared his head again. I signalled Dr. Dotun to help me transfer money to the driver and discharge him.
I heard the nurses reporting to Dr. Dotun, that Mrs. Cole’s labour suddenly slowed down. He immediately left my bed and stood by Mrs. Cole.
It was 8:30 am.
After a while, the contraction gave me a quick break of one minute. At that time, Mrs. Cole looked at me and said.
“I envy you too. I wish my labour is this fast.”
“I wish my labour can give me more breaks like yours too,” I replied her
“Ah… don’t say that….,” Dr. Dotun interrupted. “Don’t you know it is better for the labour to be fast? That means no complication…That means the child is in a hurry to come into this world,” he laughed.
I tried to laugh too, but the laughter faded into an agonizing scream when the contraction resumed another round on me.
This time, the contraction was more prolonged and barely gave me any more breaks. No respite. No relief.
“She is 3 fingers!” A nurse announced, after observing my pelvic area.
“Prepare the nursery, get the oxygen tank.” The nurses screamed amongst themselves.
Dr. Dotun was there observing. He was more by Mrs. Cole’s bedside because it seemed there was a problem with her labour. Then they gave her what is called a hot drip. She too began shouting.
I heard the nurses calming her down for slapping her husband. And ripping off the button on his shirt.
I tried to laugh, but I couldn’t. I thanked God secretly for making my labour easy. After all, I had no one to slap. I never needed a hot drip! Not that if I saw Tunbi’s face I wouldn’t slap him, though!
The next time the pain came, I screamed. “I want to pooh!”
“No don’t pooh,” the nurses said. “Hold it in, that’s the baby’s head.”
“Please allow me,” I pleaded.
Then Dr, Dotun came to my bed and held my hands, and pat me on the back.
“…just hang in there, that’s your baby’s head pushing through, against your bowel…your baby is already here.”
Justice is here? I was almost relieved.
Then the head of nurses came in. She did a vaginal examination saying they can see the baby’s head.
I grunted and grunted…but it was not enough. It seemed I had no more energy. Then she shoved a tablespoonful of glucose down my throat and screamed.
I grunted again, mustering all the force, and then Dr, Dotun urged, rubbing my back;
“…push my dear.”
And I did one more time. And the baby flung out of me like a catapult.
It was 9:45 am prompt. And the rain downpour became heavier. I had been expecting a girl according to the scan result.
But with eyes firmly closed, and a loud cry, announcing its arrival….the nurse lifted his naked, blood-stained, and whitish body, displaying it.
“It’s a baby boy!!!!!”
Justice is here!
(To be continued)
You can read the last edition HERE
“Unapologetically Shewa” is a story of Shewa and Sheri. Both of them are single mothers who live in a society which judges them. While Sheri keeps seeking where and what to hide behind, Shewa decides to stop hiding or withering under the condescending glare of society. She was ready to shed no more tears, but shed off the scales of self-judgement and begin a journey of self-actualization. Coming against societal norms, will she change the norms or the norms will change her?
Abiose A. Adams, a journalist, creative writer, and senior programme officer at Cable Newspaper Journalism Foundation, can be reached on [email protected]
Author’s Disclaimer: This story is purely a work of fiction. Any coincidence of the characters with real persons is highly regretted.
Photo credit: Pexel
Copyright 2022 TheCable. All rights reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from TheCable.
Follow us on twitter @Thecablestyle