Mrs Cole was my birthing mate. We were both in the labour room together, about to give birth to our firsts, until everything changed. Then she was taken to the theatre for a C-section. A few hours later I was brought to the post-delivery ward with my child in a cot. She was also brought to the same room, but her child was not with her. When she asked, she was told her baby was being taken care of at the neonatal intensive care unit.

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Neither of us suspected anything. We were both primigravidae as the doctor labelled us; and were both tired from the rigours of labour, so we drifted into sleep.

Hours later, I opened my eyes and saw my baby. Justice. That was his name. He was the baby with strong lungs announcing his arrival:  wanted or unwanted, regardless. He laid adorably helpless and innocent in the cot, in the woolen cap, mittens, and socks. He had been bathed and swathed. The ward nurse asked me to put him on the breast.

The moment I held him close to my chest, he stayed glued there and I never wanted to give him out anymore. I didn’t understand why, but the birth process had wrought special alchemy in me, turning me from a complacent mother to a compassionate mother; from a murderous mother to a doting mother. I felt super elated for the first time in many months. The arrival of Justice in my life marked the arrival of joy. I could feel the unfurling of a new life, new opportunities, and new victories.

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By 4 pm, the doctor said I was medically fit to go home.

I got discharged.

“Congratulations,” Dr. Dotun said.

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I was seeing him for the first time after my delivery. He looked shagged, sad, and bent over.

“Thank you…but what about that other woman’s baby?”

“Mrs. Cole?”

“Yes.”

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He was quiet and water welled up in his eyes.

“She didn’t make it.”

“What?! What happened…how do you mean?”

“Her baby suddenly presented as a breach, so we had to do an emergency C-section, but by the time we brought out the baby, it was a girl and she was really distressed. We tried to resuscitate her, but she passed.”

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“Oh dear,…..oh dear, dear……what a waste, after all these nine months….oh dear…….oh dear Lord….” I didn’t know when tears rolled down my cheeks.

He retreated and asked a nurse to assist me to the point where new mothers obtained their baby’s birth certificate for their newborn.

As I sat there, I saw again that guy who was cuddling Mrs. Cole. He was wearing a navy-blue polo and faded jeans, looking like one in his mid-thirties. This time, an older woman in a pink sweeping gown and a black scarf, held his hand, most likely his mother-in-law. They rummaged through the bag and items they had bought in anticipation of their baby’s arrival.

The woman paced the floor, sobbing and hissing. And then the matron on duty appeared. She charged toward the matron and grabbed her neck.

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“You will pay for your carelessness. I cannot accept this…I cannot, I cannot….I cannot accept that my first grandchild is dead.., no… ….oooo…ha!

“Madam, I’ve apologized to you earlier…her case was different…it is one of those things,…let us accept the will of God…” the matron replied, struggling to speak through the strangulation.

And then a slap landed on her face…. “One of those things, huh…one of those things?… you killed my grandchild, and you can open your rotten mouth to tell me to accept the will of God…you blame God for your carelessness and callousness,” She slapped her again.

“You must be out of your mind…what do you mean apologized? Can your apology bring my child back to life,” Mr. Cole cried with a voice broken by grief. “You killed my very firstborn, you killed my joy… and you call that the will of God…does God approve of my sorrow…you must be a blood-sucking witch…”

The bereaved mother-in-law yanked off her scarf, and her slippers and started cursing. “I will sue this hospital, I will sue you in particular…you cold-blooded animal!”

The other nurses tried to rescue their matron to no avail. After some minutes, reason prevailed and Mr. Cole later helped his mother-in-law out to the premises.

I heard that voice in my head chastising me for ever signing those adoption papers or wishing to have a stillbirth that dreadful, rudely shocking, and tragic life event that could ever happen to a parent, especially a mother.

But there I was, being spared by God, despite my stupidity. I changed my mind about giving up Justice. I immediately blocked Irene’s number so she would never be able to reach me.

I looked at Mr Cole as he lifted the baby cot. I could imagine the intensity of preparation that would have gone into preparing for such a special day. The day of arrival of their very first child— nine months after their wedding!

Mrs. Cole had not bought a coffin, but a cot. She had not bought a burial cloth, but a baptismal cloth. She had bought a pink blanket and pink flowers— pink which symbolizes the colour of life-blood under the skin. But now, the colour pink had turned purplish, for the life was gone out of the blood. Now the cot would be turned into her coffin and the baptismal cloth into her burial cloth. The fragrant flowers would become the wreath over her grave— an unmarked and un-named grave, somewhere unknown, for the un-named baby Cole.

The bereaved mother would feel empty and light. The kicks would be gone and the backpains would cease. But the flow of breastmilk would not cease. At least not immediately! They would be a constant reminder of what could have been. They would empty out on her chest until it dawns that there is no baby to suck it. She would return home empty-handed; with nothing to hug or cuddle. What a torturous emptiness to return to— after solid nine months!

It was 5 pm when they brought the still baby. And the entire hall was still, except for sighs and sobs. The brown carton containing the baby was sealed and labelled as ‘Baby Cole’.

Mr. Cole collected the brown carton and cradled it on his chest. And with deep sobs, he convulsed over it.

I cried too.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Cole was still waiting in the ward— waiting to carry, in her hands, what she had carried in her womb. She did not know her bundle of joy had become a bundle of sorrow. She was still an expectant mother— this time not expectant with a baby— but expectant with the joy of bonding with her baby, the way they bonded in the womb. She didn’t know they had been separated— an eternal separation! She would never feel her kicks again. She would not hear her heartbeat again. Neither would she be familiar with her cry. She was going to be buried just like the placenta that had bonded mother and child.

I could only imagine how she would break when the news breaks to her. Perhaps someone like her would wish to be like me. Yet, someone like me wanted to be like her; and wanted what she had; a doting spouse, wedlock, and a home. Oh, the emptiness of thinking the grass is greener is someone else’s field! The vanity of wishing one is in another person’s shoes! It was not my child who died, but I was severely sobered and shaken. I learnt a vital lesson— to be content and be thankful in all situations, for God is beautiful for all situations. For when there is life, there is always a new opportunity and hope.

The undertaker collected the death certificate and burial permit.

The births/deaths registrar— a middle-aged woman in a blue hospital robe— didn’t even flinch. Her face was blank. No emotions. With her perceived years of experience, she must have been used to signing death certificates for stillborns. And by now used to the ensuing drama from family and friends.

They made a mournful but confused procession, escorting the newborn to its final home- the cold mother earth.

Thus, the tale of the two babies:

Both of them were born on the same day. One was a boy, the other was a girl. One had no parents. The other had both parents. One had no clan to welcome him, the other had a full clan waiting. One was born out of wedlock, the other was born in wedlock. One made it from the womb to the world, the other made it from the womb to the tomb. The one that was wanted could not be wanted, but the one that was unwanted became wanted. One warmed the cockles of the mother’s heart, the other made for the mother earth. One went home with his caretaker, the other went home to his maker.

(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



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