Growing up, I had a family member (I can’t really trace the family connection, but was told he was a member of my family), who was called Abiona. One day, I asked why he was called Abiona (literally meaning, born on the road), because I had come to realise the meaning of his name.
It intrigued me, and it turned out to be an unusual birth story. Bro Abiona was the first born of his mother for his father. On the day of his birth, his mother had been going about her usual business, when she felt this unusual pain and when she told her mother-in-law, whom she was with at that time, the older woman had told her, she was not yet due, but that they should start going home. So, both women headed down the narrow tracks headed for Abiona’s father’s house located in another village.
To cut a long story short, his mother never got home. She had him just beside the narrow bush paths on his grandmother’s wrappers, in the bright glare of the day. Thank God, it was an easy birth, and she had an experienced hand with her on that lonely bush path, or it might have been something else.
It was his father, worried about the safety of his pregnant wife, who set out from his own village, and met his wife and mother, with his new son, on the path, getting ready to come home. Right then and there, he had named him, and the name had stuck.
Asking a first time mom in my church about her birth plan, if any, she narrated the story of a woman in Ibadan, who was in labour, and drove herself to the hospital. She said the woman was acting crazy, and that she’d said she had driven into the hospital parking lot, swung open the door, picked her bag, and rushed into the emergency ward, without shutting her car door, not to mention locking the car. She had been shouting, “My baby is coming o.”
Somewhat sad was the fact that nobody answered her. Seeing that nobody was paying attention to her; she knelt down and bore down. When the nurses saw what she was doing, they started to shout, “Madam, no born there.” A bit too late, as before they got to her, she had already given birth to her baby, remaining the placenta.
While, they were moaning the clean-up work she had given them, the nurses and doctors all gave her the attention she had been shouting for, a few short minutes earlier. She had gotten to the hospital, but she had had her baby on the hospital floor, rather than the maternity ward she’d hoped for.
At the end of this story, my church member said the only thing she wanted out of that experience was to be able to drive herself to the hospital. Even though her bump is already riding the steering with her, she has refused to give up on driving herself.
Another story that I got was the woman who gave birth to her baby at her own wedding reception. I was told she was heavily pregnant by the time of her wedding, but they had gone ahead with the festivities anyway.
At the traditional wedding, which was held a week before the white wedding, the bride had looked like she was going to drop the baby on the dancing floor, and people had been urging her to take it easy o. In fact, she had looked ready to poop, and their guests, one of whom told me the story, told of how she had expected to be called during the week with the news that the bride had given birth.
Well, it didn’t happen. That baby had plans of making a grand entry. She did not want anyone to be told she was here, and she wanted to announce her presence by herself. How else would you explain that it was while her parents were dancing into the hall, with their guests cheering them on and telling each partner not to let the other win the dancing “competition” o, did her mom started to feel these cramp-like pains. By the time she got to the chairs that had been prepared for them, she was acting funny and had asked to be excused.
So, while they were doing all the ceremony of prayers, presenting the chairman of the occasion, giving his speech, and such, everyone just discovered that the couple were nowhere to be found for their first marital duty; cutting the cake. The ceremony moved on, but the place was now agog with rumours and stories of what might have happened to them.
It was when the new groom, and now new father, came out to give the vote of thanks, did he announce to the whole hall, that his new wife, had made him a father, right in the dressing room of the event center. The whole hall had erupted into shouts of joy and applauses had rent the air. Some had even asked if that was their invitation to the christening of the baby, a week later.
Everyone had laughed, but I’m sure it was far from the birth that new bride might have wanted.
I had witnessed a woman give birth on the road once, and what I had taken away from that experience was the quite helpful nature of people, Lagosians especially. It was as though the women folk formed a cult that day, spreading their wrappers on the floor, and using some to form a barricade around the new mom and her baby, thus protecting her from prying eyes. You could see that every one of those women who helped that new mom, enjoyed the experience. After they had cleaned them up as much as they could, they then took both mother and child to the nearest hospital for proper medical attention, even though the older women around were saying there was nothing wrong with the new mom and her baby, and that she should just go home.
But the pro-hospital group wanted to be sure she would not be getting any infection, as a result of her birthing experience. It was one instant out of many that I saw women put into practice the women supporting women mantra.
Other places that woman have been known to give birth include airplanes, like the woman, who was travelling to the States for her baby’s birth and had passed the screening at the airport, only for her to get on the plane and less than an hour into the flight, she went into labour.
Thank God that the air hostesses were trained in child birth, as they were the ones, who helped her, and that caused the plane to have an emergency landing. The baby was born abroad, but not in the place its mom wanted.
Moms have given birth in bathrooms, thinking they wanted to take a leak, or do a number 2, and out came the baby.
Public libraries have not been spared. I recall, with mirth, how one of my course mates, during our final year, had said his reading time was cut short, when a woman gave birth in the library, without any sign that she was even pregnant.
“O kan bi’mo ni sa, (she just gave birth like that). Is that how it happens? She was standing one minute, looking for a book and a baby was coming out of her the next minute. It was like a war zone, we were chased out of the library.”
He was in shock from the experience and, for the next few weeks, he wanted to know more about how babies were born, and how it was possible that a woman would not know she was in labour. As if I was supposed to know how every woman’s body works, just because I had been in a labour ward before.
What are some of your own experiences? What unusual places have you heard babies were born?
Blowing baby dust your way!
Oluwakemi is a member of The Fertile Chick family, and she is a writer, dreamer and mother of two sets of twins. She is passionate about issues that concern women, and does not shy away from airing her views. And words are her weapon of choice! She is reachable on her handle @oluwakemine
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