I wasn’t too interested in naming my first set of twins, but I definitely had a few names in my head, which I actually called the second set of twins, even before I had them, and I felt like they responded to those names.
However, I can only imagine what it is like to have those names ready, to have felt the baby’s kicks and all, to have gone into the labour ward, only to come out empty handed. I can only imagine it.
Essah lived it, and is still grieving her loss. This article is not an attempt to rationalise her pain, or give it a feel-good factor because it makes other people uncomfortable or, even worse, try to demean her experience by pitying her. Far from it. This is a simple acknowledgement of her loss. It is a recognition of her pain and the feelings of wonder she would ultimately always have about the baby she lost.
Would that baby have taken after its father’s disposition and her looks, or would it have been the other way round? You know all those aspirations parents have about their kids? Essah would only wonder about them, she wouldn’t know what it feels like to live them…at least not with the baby she lost.
Essah married the love of her life. She met him pretty early in life, and just stayed with him. Her parents were not fully in support of her relationship, seeing that there had been a quarrel between their different hometowns in times past.
Several attempts were made to frustrate their relationship, but none of these worked out. So, both sets of parents accepted their fate and the love story of their children, but not without a last fight. Essah and her beau, Tayo, also had a game plan to force the hands of their parents, and that was to have a baby, which would inadvertently force their parents to speed up the marital rites.
As God would have it, Essah got pregnant and, indeed, the arrangements for their marriage got some wind beneath its sail… but not without drama. At a point, Tayo’s dad called off the wedding, saying his potential in-laws wanted to kill his son with their demands and their unyielding stance that the traditional marriage rites must take place in their hometown.
“I just know it. They want to kill my son. All the parents and family are here in Lagos, but they want us to travel to their village, so they can kill my son. I will not allow that to happen. The wedding can go on, only if they agree to have it here in Lagos.” his father ranted and raged and got his way.
The wedding indeed took place in Lagos but it was long after they had planned. In fact, the lovebirds went to get married at the marriage registry before their families agreed on the traditional rites.
Meanwhile, Essah’s pregnancy was growing and she was glowing. She lived with her husband’s family and even though her family wasn’t particularly in support of that arrangement, she had clicked well with her husband’s siblings, and since they all looked alike, they were more like sisters and brothers, than in-laws. So, while she was the one actually pregnant, it was rubbing off on everyone at home.
They all blamed her pregnancy for some cravings they had, some weird symptoms…of course jokingly, and the names for the baby also poured in. Before they found out the gender of the baby, her brothers-in-law dreamt about what sex it would be; one day it was boy, another day it was a girl they would guard with their lives. As the gender changed, the names also changed.
They were gender neutral names, like Ayomide (meaning, my joy has come), that everyone in the house agreed on, the baby just had to be named. Even the grandpa-to-be agreed. So, it was a done deal.
With all of this excitement about having a baby in the house after decades of none, it was a major heartbreak when Essah went for a scan, only to find that the baby’s heartbeat had stopped. For someone who would have been full of gist about what happened at the ante natal clinic, Essah was exceptionally quiet on this day. She had a long face on, she kept flipping the TV channels as though looking for something to do with her hands.
As her husband’s siblings came back from work, they met her in that channel surfing position, with a long face and wondered what was happening.
It was her older sister-in-law who finally found out what was going on, and put a call through to her brother, asking him to hurry home, as they needed to get a second opinion about the situation.
By the time he got home, every family member knew what was going on. It was a mournful atmosphere, but they held on to a glimmer of hope that it might not be true after all.
So the older ones, including Tayo’s father, sister, Essah and Tayo, headed to a different clinic from the one she used for her ante natal. Sadly, the diagnosis was the same. Baby Ayomide had died in utero, and the doctor advised that an evacuation be done urgently.
Tayo cried, his father comforted him, Essah held onto her sister-in-law and wouldn’t let go. Headed back home, after branching off at the clinic she used for antenatal to book an evacuation for the next day, the group processed how much joy Ayomide had brought to them in the weeks it had lived in the womb.
They grieved the loss of all the dreams and aspirations, the plans they had where that baby was concerned.
The younger siblings at home quickly gauged the news from the look on Essah’s face, who was by now sobbing quietly. The boys promised heaven and earth…anything to make Essah stop crying. The baby of the house, hugged the bump and talked as though that would bring Ayomide back to life.
Grandpa-to-be had no words. He just stood in front of the picture of his late wife and told her, “Maria, Ayomide o duro oh.” (Meaning, Maria, Ayomide didn’t stay).
Hardly anyone slept that night, as they pondered on the events of the day and the procedure that was to happen the next day. Essah was especially urged to sleep. They got her something to calm her down, but sleep never found her eyes.
The next day slowly dawned and a usually short morning prayer turned into a lengthy lamentation session and a commitment of the day’s procedure into God’s hands.
It’s been three months since Essah had the procedure to evacuate Ayomide. She’s yet to get over her loss. The name Ayomide still comes up every now and then, and it is a sure thing that when a new baby comes into that home, it will just have to bear that name.
Essah may not have been able to hold the baby she and her family had named, but she looks forward to the day when she would have her rainbow baby and know indeed that her joy has come.
Even without a baby to show, everyone who matters knew who Baby Ayomide was. It might provoke wistful emotions, but there is an acknowledgment that the baby lived.
And that is enough for now.
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