Iya Beji 15: Congratulations, Mrs. Clarke!

24
1977

I sat on my bathroom floor with probably about 8 pregnancy test sticks lined in front of me, chuckling like a mad woman. After being celibate for so long, the one time I let my guard down, this happened?! How unlucky could a person be?!

“Isio, are you in there?” came Voke’s voice from outside the door. “You’ve been in there for a long time. Is your stomach okay?”

I couldn’t even answer her. I just kept on laughing. Isio Clarke!!! I had finally entered a nice, steaming hot pot of soup.

Voke tried the door knob to see if it would open, and as I hadn’t locked it, she was able to walk right in.

“Why are you sitting on the floor? And what are those things?” she asked, before her eyes widened in recognition. “Are those pregnancy tests?!”

I chuckled and nodded. “Your sis don carry belle!”

Voke’s face drained of colour and she took a seat right next to me on the floor. “Pere?”

“There hasn’t been anyone else, so yeah.”

“What are you going to do? Are you thinking of keeping it?” she asked, panicked.

I sighed deeply. “I haven’t even thought that far, Voks. It hasn’t even sunk in. How can this happen? The first time I sleep with anyone in years, and this?!”

“If you guys didn’t use protection…and clearly you didn’t…what else did you expect? Oh, Isio!” Voke exclaimed in frustration. “Why would you do this? You can’t possibly think of keeping this baby!”

I looked at my sister. “Why not? I’m of age, aren’t I? Why can’t I have this baby if I want to? You have Obiora, why can’t I have this baby as my own consolation?”

“It’s a child, Isio…not a teddy bear!” Voke retorted. “Just a few weeks ago, you were full of colourful insults for Pere. Now you want to carry his child?”

“I haven’t decided what to do, Voke.” I mumbled. “I need a little more time.”

“I’m not sure you have that much time, Isio! You and Pere were together over a month ago, so that would make you at least 6 weeks pregnant by now. Whatever decision you’re making, you have to make it fast!”

I shrugged. “I will…”

Lying in bed that night, my eyes didn’t close for a second. I couldn’t believe I was actually pregnant…pregnant with Pere’s baby. But as the night wore on, the fear and panic started giving way to something akin to excitement. Of course I’d gotten pregnant. The night with Pere had been so magical, of course it would have resulted in a baby…the perfect manifestation of our love…well, my love. Going by his behaviour the following morning, it had obviously been purely physical for him. I was the only one who’d come to that bed with my heart.

And suddenly, there was no other logical option. I was going to keep my baby.

“You’ve decided to what?!” Voke exclaimed, as we prepared to leave for work the following morning.

“I’m keeping it.” I answered, looking her square in the eyes. “I’m 33 years old. Who knows if this is the only chance I’ll get to be a mother?”

“Isio, I hope you’re not under the illusion that this will trap Pere into a marriage?” Voke asked in concern.

“I don’t even want him involved.”

“So you’re not going to tell him?!”

I shook my head. “No, I’m not going to tell him.”

Voke dropped on the couch, ignoring the fact that she was running late for work. “Wonderful!”

“I won’t be the first single mother in town, Voke…and I won’t be the last.” I shrugged. “I guess you have to shop around for another Chief Bridesmaid.”

“You’re a joker! If you agree to go ahead with this foolery, you would have had your baby by then, so you better get that thought out of your head!” she snapped, rising to her feet and grabbing her handbag. “We’ll talk some more this evening. Maybe you need more time for some sense to enter your brain!”

Even though when we got home later that evening, nothing had changed about my decision, I found myself riding the wave of indecision for the rest of that week…and even the next. One minute, I would be excited about the prospect of having the baby of the only man I had ever really loved…and the next minute, I would be having a panic attack and wondering how on earth I could possibly be thinking of raising a baby alone? I could barely even take care of myself, talk less of a baby!

And then there was what my family reaction would be! I shuddered to think of the disappointment my father would feel…and the hell my mother would raise when they found out I was pregnant out of wedlock. And then there was the general society…work, Church, even my neighbours. How was I going to face the world?!

So, I lived in turmoil for the next two weeks…sometimes even in denial. As I didn’t have any of the classic pregnancy symptoms, I figured there just had to be a mistake somewhere. Those tests just had to be wrong jare. Pregnant how?! After not even conceiving once for Ejiro, Abdul or Collins, one time with Pere, and pregnancy entered?! Just like that?! Abegi! I was certain that it was all a big mistake.

Until the morning I woke up, and brushing my teeth led to me having several conversations with my toilet bowl. That was when I accepted that this was no joke. I was pregnant. Actually pregnant. Truly pregnant.

After several more toilet bowl conversations at work, I decided to go to the nearby hospital my company used. I decided not to waste any time with a blood test, as it would only confirm to me what I already knew. Instead, I simply registered to see an Obstetrician. Before long, I was ushered in to see a pleasant-faced elderly gentleman.

“Good morning, Mrs. Clarke.” he said with a pleasant smile, looking at my folder. “How many weeks along are you?”

I stared at him, feeling foolish. “I’m not sure. I haven’t seen a doctor since I was confirmed pregnant about two weeks ago.”

Thankfully, there was no condescending or judgmental look from him. Instead, he proceeded to perform a scan on me.

“Oh lovely! Did you know you’re having twins?” he exclaimed.

I sat up so quickly, it almost knocked down the entire machine. “What?!”

“There they are…two heartbeats. Can you see them?” he said, pointing at the screen.

I stared, flabbergasted. Twins?! I was still trying to get used to the idea of one baby…but two?! It couldn’t be!!!

But there they were…the most perfect pulsating dots I had ever seen in my life. And I could hardly believe it!

“Twin 1 is measuring about 8 weeks and 1 day , and Twin 2 about 7 weeks and 6 days!” the doctor continued. “Congratulations, Mrs. Clarke!”

I burst into hysterical laughter, taking the poor doctor aback. Mrs. Clarke indeed! Even when he expressed concern over Twin 2, saying he wanted to see how it developed because it was on the small side, I was still chuckling. Me? Isio? Twins? Unbelievable!

Even though it was only in the afternoon, I went straight home, chuckling all through the drive.  I didn’t even care that I was getting strange stares from other drivers on the Lekki expressway. I was just too amused for words.

“You have one heck of a sense humour oh!” I exclaimed at God. “Meanwhile, there are girls way worse than me, doing their own thing scot-free! But no…Isio just had to get pregnant with twins!”

Almost as soon as I got home, my phone buzzed with a text from Voke.

How far? How did it go?

Na two oh! I texted back, still chuckling.

Just as expected, my phone rang immediately.

“Two what?!” Voke exclaimed. “Please tell me you are joking!”

By this time, I was laughing hysterically. “I’m not joking! Your sis is expecting twins!”

“Isio, can you see now? Can you now see yourself? If you had done what I advised…”

“Ehn ehn, please! Don’t even go there!” I snapped, all humour dissipating. “Having an abortion was never an option, so please don’t even go there!”

“Okay o!” she said with disdain. “What about Pere? You know you have to tell him at some point. Or is that also not an option?”

I hissed. “I want to rest. I’ll see you when you get home,” and with that, I terminated the call.

As expected, my sister was home a lot earlier than her normal closing time. By this time though, the humour had subsided, and in its place was an awareness that was overwhelming.

“You’re sure it’s twins? You saw the two of them?” Voke demanded, herself unconvinced.

I nodded. “I saw them…two small dots.” I suddenly started remembering the doctor’s words, and was filled an overwhelming sense of dread. “The doctor said one of them is much smaller though, and that by the next scan there might be only one baby…”

“When will you know for sure?” Voke asked, my concern mirrored on her face.

I shrugged. “At the next scan, I guess.” Tears started to cascade down my face. “On the one hand, I’m scared about how I’ll cope with not one, but two babies! And on the other hand, I don’t want to lose the other baby…”

Voke wrapped her arms around me, and rocked me as I cried. “Everything will be fine, Isio.”

“I know you don’t agree with my decision to keep it…” I whimpered.

“Isio, I will support you in whatever decision you make. I’m here for you…always!” Voke reassured me.

“Even when you and Obiora are married and living far away?”

“Even if we move to Timbuktu!” Voke laughed, prompting laughter from me as well. “And twins? Wow! That’s double blessing, Isio!”

My sadness returned. “But it might only be one though…”

Voke smiled and shook her head. “Have faith, Isio. Something tells me those two little beanies are going to stick around!”

And she was right. By my next scan a week later, not only were there legit two babies, the difference was so clear. Twin 1 measured 9 weeks and 1 day, and Twin 2 measured exactly 9 weeks. Twin 2 had hiccups, so it was jumping up and down on the screen! They were no longer like little dots, but now looked like proper little babies. Voke accompanied me, and we both watched in amazement as we saw both their feet, hands, bodies and heads. It was the most beautiful thing ever. I was given an estimated due date of November 12th, but the doctor said they would most likely be born before then.

“Isio, you’re going to be a mommy…and I’m going to be an aunty!” Voke squealed, once we were in her car. “Oh my goodness, that was the most amazing thing ever! Just look at these gorgeous babies!”

I smiled as she looked at the pictures from the scan, so happy and relieved they were both there…and both fine.

“I can’t keep this to myself anymore! Permission to share with Obiora, I beg you!” Voke continued squealing, looking at the pictures over and over again.

Hearing her say that brought to reality the fact that it couldn’t be our little secret forever. Sooner or later, my pregnancy would be public knowledge, and I was going to have to find a way to deal with that.

“Yeah…but only Obiora.” I agreed reluctantly.

Voke picked up on my vibe, and looked at me in worry. “What about Pere though? At some point, he’s going to have to know.”

“What part of I’m doing this alone don’t you understand, Voke?!” I snapped, regretting it immediately. Voke wasn’t the enemy here. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to snap. I just don’t want us to discuss Pere.”

Mainly because I remembered only too well the awful things I had said to him the last time we saw…the beautiful and magical time when we had conceived our babies. Except the words I’d said to him had been anything but beautiful and magical…

“And our parents? When do you intend to tell them? You only have a few more weeks before you start to show. Do you want to wait until that time? What are you going to say when they ask you who the father is? You know if you tell them it’s Pere, they’ll go look for him, with or without you. Don’t forget they know his Uncle.”

My head started to ache from her barrage of questions. All I truly wanted was for her to just leave me alone, and allow things unfold anyway they wanted to.

As expected, Obiora was first of all shocked, and then elated when we shared the news with him.

“Twins?! And for Pere?! This is the best news ever! Maybe we can even plan a double wedding!” he had exclaimed.

But when he heard that not only did Pere not know, I had no intention to tell him at all, his excitement waned a little.

“And you better not go and start blabbing when you see him oh!” Voke warned. “It’s Isio’s decision, and we have to respect it.”

“First of all, Pere and I hardly run into each other. We’re not as close as we used to be.” Obiora responded. “Second of all, I actually take offense to you two implying I can’t keep my mouth shut. While I don’t agree with Isio’s decision to keep this kind of information from the father of her child…scratch that, children…if you support her, then I guess I have no choice but to do the same.”

“So when are you going to tell the parents?” Voke asked, after Obiora left later that evening.

“Maybe in another 6 or 7 weeks, when I hit 15 or 16 weeks…” I answered. I wanted to put it off for as long as I could manage.

“You do know you’re expecting twins, right? And that you will start to show very soon.”

“Puleez! How much will I be showing at 16 weeks?! Can’t you remember how our cousin, Karo, was still flat-stomached at almost 7 months? Abeg, I’m sure I have a lot of time, so no need to rush what will eventually come to pass anyway.”

I didn’t give my mother enough credit!

The next week, I had my ‘booking in’ appointment at the hospital; basically for them to check my weight, blood pressure, and to get a urine sample. Twin 1 measured 10 weeks and 1 day, and Twin 2 measured 9 weeks and 4 days. Even more so than before, they were both wriggling around all over the place. I was alone as Voke hadn’t been able to accompany me for this scan…and for the first time, I got a small taste of what it was going to be like to do this all alone.

And it wasn’t a good feeling.

I was still feeling melancholy as I drove back home, and even when I drove into our compound, my mood wasn’t any better. I guess if I had been paying more attention, I would have seen not only Voke’s car home earlier than normal, but also my father’s refurbished Toyota van.

But I didn’t, so I was startled when I walked in to see our mother, her younger sister (Aunty Felicia) and Voke, sitting amidst bales of fabric.

“Ah, Isio! You no go work? Wetin you dey do for house this time?” my mother remarked, a twinkle in her eye.

That was when I remembered that Voke had said something about going fabric shopping with our mother, for her Introduction ceremony, which was finally going to hold the next weekend.

“You no well?” Aunty Felicia asked, pointing at the bag of drugs in my hand.

“Errm…no…yes. Malaria.” I answered weakly, but not before I noticed my mother’s keen eye on me.

I was dead meat!

“Excuse me.” I said, making my way to the kitchen.

“I sent you a text message, warning you not to come home!” Voke whispered hoarsely, as she entered the kitchen behind me.

“I forgot to take my phone off silent.” I mumbled back. “Why on earth did you guys come back here? Wasn’t it Balogun market you went to? Why come all the way back here?!”

“Momsie insisted we come here. I even offered following her back to Ogudu instead, but she insisted on coming.” Voke answered.

“You think she suspects anything?” I asked, my heart palpitating.

Voke shrugged. “Maybe. Why else would she come?”

After a deep breath, a glass of water, and another deep breath, I decided to brave it. Apart from the smallest of pouches, which could be mistaken for a belly swollen from over eating, there were no physical indicators of my pregnancy. There was no way she could know.

“You no resemble person wey get malaria oh!” Aunty Felicia said, almost the minute I walked out of the kitchen. “See as your body just fresh.”

“No single malaria medicine dey here oh!” my mother asked, rummaging through my hospital bag of medication. “And why you dey take folic acid?”

“Sister, I talk am say I see sugar cane for dream!” Aunty Felicia said, a sly smile on her face. “And you know wetin dey happen any time I see sugar cane. E mean say person don carry belle!”

Voke and I exchanged a petrified glance. Unfortunately, this exchange didn’t pass our mother’s eagle eye.

I guess it also didn’t pass Aunty Felicia’s, who cackled. “Isio don get belle oh!”

My mother looked at me, and I suppose the exasperated look on my face was all the confirmation she needed.

“I don die!” she exclaimed, throwing her hands on her head. “This pikin don kill me finally!” she picked up a throw cushion and threw at me. “This yeye pikin don kill me finish!”

“Sis, why you dey vex? Isio never reach to born? She don over-reach sef!” Aunty Felicia continued cackling, and I wanted to physically throw her out of the house.

“Who is the father? Who is the father of this child?!” my mother demanded, sending chills down my spine. You see, anytime my mother resorted to speaking perfect English, you knew shit was about to go down!

But I was determined not to be bullied.

I squared my shoulders, and looked her in the eye. “The person responsible for the pregnancy is no longer in the picture. I intend to have the…go through it alone.”

Before I could say another word, another throw-pillow hit me in the face. “You must be very stupid, Isio! Standing there and spewing such rubbish. If you don’t open your mouth to give me a name, I will slap not only your teeth out of that your mouth, but even the pregnancy out of your body!”

I looked at Voke, but my sister looked away, an indication that I was on my own. From the look on my mothers face, I knew it was in my best interest to start talking.

 

 

 

Catch up on Isio’s story here:

  1. Iya Beji 1: A Series of Unfortunate Events
  2. Iya Beji 2: Destiny Blocker
  3. Iya Beji 3: Daisy
  4. Iya Beji 4: Upgrade
  5. Iya Beji 5: Bleeding Love
  6. Iya Beji 6: The Beast
  7. Iya Beji 7: The Standby Guy
  8. Iya Beji 8: The Boss
  9. Iya Beji 9: The Deal Breaker
  10. Iya Beji 10: The Convert
  11. Iya Beji 11: Hiatus
  12. Iya Beji 12: Never Stopped
  13. Iya Beji 13: Jealousy
  14. Iya Beji 14: Pure Magic

 

Catch up on our other series here:

 

 

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24 COMMENTS

  1. Yawa don gas and typical Naija mother who will bitch slap you to hell and back is what you have! All the best as your family gets to know.
    Thursday, come quickly! ?

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