Iya Beji 18: Co-Parenting

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“Isio…Pere…I think we can all agree that this is a very important and delicate situation you have both found yourselves in.” Obiora said. “Isio, keeping the news from Pere for as long as you did wasn’t good, and Pere…you showing up here and waving your cheque book was even worse. You guys might no longer want to be together, but you have to take into consideration the two lives you will soon both be responsible for!”

Pere and I exchanged a quick glance, and I saw the remorse I felt mirrored in his face.

“I honestly didn’t mean to offend. Believe me when I say I came here with the best of intentions. I truly don’t know what kind of support I can give at this stage.” he said, clearly exasperated.

“No doubt, the money is important. By the time you guys start jamming bills, you’ll understand why that money is extremely important!” Obiora answered. “But it’s not the most important thing. What Isio needs right now is your support…your time. This is the beginning of a lifelong co-parenting journey…or do you intend to only pay the children’s bills and not have any relationship with them?”

“Of course not.” Pere answered defiantly. “I definitely intend to have a relationship with my children. I had an excellent relationship with my own father, so being an absentee dad is not even an option.”

“Now you get my point!” Obiora exclaimed. “And it’s not when the kids are walking and talking that you develop that relationship. You develop it now…by supporting their mother.”

Pere and I exchanged another glance, and I was hit with the very recent memory of him declaring he had found another love.

“I’m sure Pere is wondering how his girlfriend will take the news of him having a baby mama!” I retorted.

“I already spoke to her about it.” he answered, his voice level. “And even though it wasn’t the easiest conversation to have, she understood. It happened before we got together, and it is what it is.”

“It is what it is indeed.” I mumbled.

“Isio!” Obiora chided. “Behave. We’re having a grown-up conversation here.”

“When you say time and moral support, what exactly does that mean?” Pere asked, turning his attention back to Obiora.

“It means you accompany her for hospital appointments, call her everyday to make sure she’s fine, buy her whatever meals she might be craving, come and massage her feet once in a while…don’t you have any siblings that have kids? Surely, you must have noticed all these things when they were expecting.”

“He’s the first born.” I answered before I could help myself. I hated the fact that we were so familiar…that I knew him like the back of my hand.

Pere looked at me, his expression unreadable. I reckon he too was painfully aware of our familiarity.

“Isio is correct. I’m the first born, and none of my siblings have any kids. I was also too young to notice what happened when my mother was pregnant with my younger ones, so this is new territory for me.” he answered. “But I hear you, Obiora. I’m more than ready to accompany her for her hospital appointments and check on her everyday. But I’m not sure how those foot massages would work though.”

“Please I don’t need your yeye massage!” I retorted.

Obiora glared at me, before looking at Pere. “I guess hospital appointments and daily calls are a good place to start. And money, of course.”

“Certainly.” Pere answered. “When is your next appointment?”

All three of them looked at me, and I had to stifle a hiss. So just like that, Pere had been granted access to my life. Nobody even seemed to care about the fact that he was now dating someone else.

“On Monday.” I muttered.

“Great! Send him the details and you two can take it from there!” Obiora declared, smiling victoriously.

“May I ask what hospital you are using?” Pere asked. “I’d really prefer it if you could use mine. It’s pretty much the best in West Africa, and it’s completely paid for by my company.”

I shrugged. I knew exactly what hospital Pere’s company used, and it was a heck of a lot better than the very basic one I had access to via my health insurance.

“Great. So we’ll just arrange to have your files transferred, and take it from there.” Pere said, with a polite smile.

“So…this your babe. Won’t you tell me about her? She’s probably going to be children’s step mother, so I think I have a right to know, don’t you?” I said, a mischievous smile on my face.

I saw Pere cast Obiora and Voke a desperate glance, but it turns out the pair were just as curious as I was.

“Her name is Ogechi. We met about three months ago, on one of my trips to Port Harcourt. We sat next to each other on the plane actually. She works offshore. Escravos to be precise.” he answered.

By working in Escravos, I knew which of the international oil companies that was her employer, and it was like he had kicked me in the stomach. The one thing that was sure to give me an inferiority complex, apart from light skinned girls, were female Engineers like myself who had succeeded in getting the kind of high-flying job that had eluded me.

“How old is she?” I asked.

“29.” he answered.

Another kick to the stomach, with a resounding slap for good measure. Smarter, richer, younger and probably prettier. No wonder Pere seemed smitten.

“Well, we’re happy for you, Pere. And we wish you well.” Voke said. “Just make sure she doesn’t give us any drama. Let everybody stay on their lane, and we’ll be just fine.”

Pere nodded, rising to his feet. “Don’t worry. Ogechi won’t give you any trouble. She isn’t the type.” he looked at me. “I intend to take Monday off work, so we can sort out the paperwork with the hospital switch. Do you think you could do the same?”

I shrugged nonchalantly. “Sure.”

“Good.” Pere answered, before giving Obiora a firm handshake and Voke a hug. “Congrats you two. I’m so happy you made it this far. I hope I’ll be invited to the wedding.”

“You don’t even need an invite, my man! You’re part of the family now!” Obiora laughed, ignoring the lethal stare from his fiancée.

“And make sure you come with your babe oh!” I added, with more than a healthy dose of sarcasm.

He ignored me.

After he’d left, I returned to my room and contemplated what had just transpired. Somehow, I preferred it when I thought I was doing it alone. Having to contend with Pere and his girlfriend was not something that I would have wanted at all. I thought I’d been able to let go of the feelings I had for him, but it was clear that I hadn’t…and that I was going to have the find a way to deal with the situation.

Putting my sleuthing expertise to the task, I proceeded to, first of all, search Pere’s Facebook page for any new friends over the past few months…especially any ones called ‘Ogechi’. And there she was. Befriended almost three months to the day! Armed with her full name, I checked her out on LinkedIn and saw that she did work for the company I suspected, confirming that she was indeed the one. I spent the next few hours looking at all her pictures and examining her entire social media presence. Dark skinned like me, even I had to admit that she was prettier…much prettier. If she weren’t an Engineer, she could pass for a super model with her slim and tall structure. At 29, she’d already amassed an impressive First Class in Petrochemical Engineering degree from Texas A&M University, a Masters degree in Management Science & Engineering from Stanford University, and an MBA from Duke University. To say I was oppressed would have been putting it mildly.

“You need to stop torturing yourself with that!” Voke said, peering over my shoulder as I scrolled through the Ogechi’s Facebook pictures, since she’d been annoying enough to set her Instagram page private.

“Like you didn’t also check out Belinda when Obiora was with her.” I retorted.

“True. I did check her out…and if I’m to be honest, I still do. Which is how I know that it won’t help you. The only thing you’ll gain is to make yourself even more upset.” she said, sitting beside me on the bed. “Pere has moved on. It’s painful, but you just have to accept it. Look at it this way, at least it’s a small win. You two might not be together, but at least now you have a partner in this.”

I sighed. “I actually prefer it the other way.”

“Trust me, Isio! You don’t.”

And she was correct. True to his words, Pere picked me up on Monday morning, and we first of all went to my hospital, for my appointment and then to get my records. I was amazed by how differently the nurses treated me because I was accompanied by a man. I could see respect in their eyes I hadn’t seen before, and it only just made me angry at the discrimination single mothers everywhere have to deal with.

“Hello, Mrs. Clarke! This must be your husband!” the elderly doctor remarked, when Pere and I walked into his consulting room.

I threw Pere a ‘don’t ask’ look, and gave the doctor a broad smile. So what if I’d never bothered to correct the old man that I wasn’t married, and that Clarke was my maiden name?! Who was anybody to judge me?!

As we settled in for the scan, I couldn’t take my eyes off Pere’s face and saw as he started off looking incredibly nervous to being completely in awe when the babies appeared on the screen.

“Oh my goodness!” he said, totally in awe. “I can actually see them. I didn’t think I’d be able to make them out…but there they are.”

I smiled at the screen. Oh yes indeed! There they were in all their gloriousness, wriggling around and even waving.

After the scan, the doctor explained that the position of the babies in my 34th week would determine what kind of birth I would have. If Twin 1 was head down, a natural delivery would be possible, but if not, it would be a c-section. The doctor also explained that if I didn’t have them by 37 weeks, I would have to be induced.

A part of me was sad that he wouldn’t have the opportunity to deliver the kids as, basic hospital or not, he was an extremely lovely doctor who always made me feel comfortable. But I had to think of what was best for the babies.

Thankfully, the paperwork didn’t take too long and we were soon on our way to Pere’s hospital. I stole a few glances at him as he drove, we had barely made any conversation since he picked me up from my house that morning, and I was beginning to wonder why.

“You’ve been awfully quiet.” I remarked.

He shrugged. “Not much to say, I suppose.”

“The scan was awesome wasn’t it? I remember how I felt the first time I had mine.” I continued.

He smiled. “Yeah, it was. I didn’t expect to even get any pictures.”

“Are you going to show the pictures to Ogechi?” I asked.

He looked at me, before refocusing his attention on the road. “Ogechi is offshore at the moment. And no, I don’t have to rub it in her face by showing her scan pictures of the babies my ex-girlfriend is having for me.”

“Ah. Sorry oh!” I retorted, and brought out my phone to fiddle with. If he didn’t want to make conversation, that was his own problem!

As we pulled into the car park, he looked at me. “I had to register you as my wife, as only spouses and children can benefit from this. So, you might have to be referred to as Mrs. Lawson, if you don’t mind.”

I frowned. “Ah! But that’s messy. What now happens when there is a real Mrs. Lawson?!”

“By then, you would have had your babies, so there will be nothing to worry about. Besides, you seem to like answering the Mrs. monicker, or don’t you, ‘Mrs. Clarke’?” he said, killing the engine and getting out of the car.

“Oh how chivalrous!” I said sarcastically, as he walked to my side of the door to open it for me.

“My pleasure.” he answered, also sarcastically.

But all sarcasm and annoyance melted as we stepped into the luxurious hospital. It made my former hospital look like a mechanic’s workshop. So much in awe was I of the place, that I made no objections as I filled my forms as Mrs. Lawson. If this was what I would enjoy for the duration of the pregnancy, then I was in with both hands and feet.

“After the kids are born, will they still be able to use this place?” I whispered in his ear, as we sat in the waiting room.

He nodded. “Of course. As my children, they will have full access to the place.”

I smiled broadly. Nice!

The Ob/Gyn we met was a very nice man, who went through my case notes from my last clinic, and proceeded to conduct a scan of his own, with pretty much the same results. Everything looked to be in good order.

“I like that doctor. I prefer him to the old guy we saw earlier. No offence, but the man looks like he should be resting at home, instead of attending to patients.” Pere laughed.

I hit him playfully. “Are you making fun of my dear Doctor Francis?!”

“I only speak the truth!” he laughed, before being cut short by his phone. “Excuse me, I have to take this…” he apologised, before answering it. “Hello babe.”

Hello babe. I didn’t have to be a rocket scientist to know who he was talking to.

“Yeah, everything went well…” was what I heard him saying, as he walked away to answer the call privately.

So the Ogechi did know what we were doing that day!

By the time he returned to me, my face was straight and devoid of any of the laughter from before. He picked up my cue, and we walked in silence to his car, and drove in silence to my house.

“Are you going back to work today? Do you need anything?” he asked, before I got out of the car.

“I’m fine, thank you.” I answered stiffly.

“I’ll see you tomorrow…” he was saying, but I was already out of the car, and walking into my compound.

I wiped tears away as I climbed the stairs. Why was I so emotional these days anyway? It must be the pregnancy hormones, was what I told myself, as I let myself into the house. Once inside, I leaned on the door and closed my eyes. Who on earth was I kidding? I knew the reason I was emotional, and my innocent babies were not to blame.

Kicking off my shoes, I walked into the kitchen and stared at my options, none of which looked interesting. The only thing that was interesting to me was pounded yam and soup, and I had no interest or desire to stress myself with preparing either. So in the end, I opted for buttered bread and fruit juice.

Making myself comfortable in my living room, I decided to enjoy my day off work instead of moping over a man I had clearly lost. And just as I was drifting off to sleep, the door bell rang. Opening it, I was surprised to find a man who introduced himself as Pere’s driver.

“Mr. Lawson said I should give this to you.” he said, handing me two large take-away bags of food and a box of pizza.

I squealed happily, peeping into the bags to see that one of them had pounded yam and egusi soup from my favourite Yellow Chilli restaurant, and the other had club sandwiches from Cactus.

“How did you know what I was dying to eat?!” I exclaimed, calling him immediately.

“You looked like you could do with some comfort food, but I wasn’t sure if pounded yam still does the trick for you…or if you’d prefer the sandwiches you loved so much back then.” he answered.

I smiled, touched. “Thank you, Pere.”

“It is my absolute pleasure, Isio. And my driver, Sylvester, will be with you for the rest of the day. You need him more than I do.” he answered.

My smile was now a broad grin. I could get used to this!

“So…truce?” he said.

I smiled and nodded. “Truce.”

Yes, I might have lost his love…but if this was what it was to have my partner’s support in this pregnancy, then I would take it!

Photo Credits

  1. https://cdn3.volusion.com
  2. http://1.bp.blogspot.com
  3. http://pinterest.com

 

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
  15. Iya Beji 15: Congratulations, Mrs. Clarke!
  16. Iya Beji 16: Blast from the Past
  17. Iya Beji 17: The Offer

 

Catch up on our other series here:

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