Seeing Voke again at the arrival lounge of the Miami International Airport got me so emotional, I almost burst into tears the minute I saw her. And it wasn’t just because I was so happy to be finally reunited with my sister, but because of how happy and peaceful she looked. I’d half expected her to still be the way she’d been when she left Nigeria, but instead, I saw in her eyes peace I hadn’t seen in a very long time…even before Obiora died.
“Gee, thanks! Just what a girl loves to hear!” I teased, smiling.
“But my gosh, are you excited?! Isio, the boys are almost here! You’re soon going to be a mom!” Voke gushed, prompting another smile from me. While I’d had an extra month to get more used to that fact, the reality of it all was only just dawning on my sister.
We couldn’t even wait till we got to the apartment before catching each other up on what we’d been up to in the last month. She told me how wonderful and therapeutic her time in Ghana had been for her, and I couldn’t have been more glad.
“It was just what I needed, Isio.” she said as we rode in the rented car she’d gotten. “I did a whole lot of thinking, introspection, and meditation…and I was able to let go of so many things.”
“Like what?” I asked, curious about her newfound zen.
“The fantasy that was Obiora and I. I accepted that I lost him long before he died. When Obiora and I got back together, I never got him back 100%. Belinda still kept a huge part of him, and that would have continued long after our marriage. If I’m to be honest, I knew things weren’t quite the same when he came back last year, but I guess I’d missed him too much to care. Add to that the fact I was nervous about turning 35 and still being single, and you had the perfect recipe for disaster, really.”
“I don’t think you should be too hard on yourself, Voks.” I interjected. “Obiora did love you, and I honestly believe you were the one he wanted to be with.”
“I don’t want to be a choice for the man I love. I want to be the only choice.” Voke answered. “Belinda would have been the 3rd person in our marriage, and I honestly believe I dodged a bullet there. It breaks my heart that he’s dead, my heart aches for his family, and a part of me will probably mourn him for the rest of my days, but Isio, I’m relieved. I truly am.”
I nodded, fully understanding what she was saying, especially as it was almost a reflection of how I felt. I squeezed her hand in reassurance, knowing I was the only one she could be that candid with, but grateful also that she had begun the process of healing fully.
When we got to our apartment, I was blown away. The pictures in the brochure Pere had shown me hadn’t done the place any justice at all. It was breathtaking!
“Nice eh?” Voke said, a broad smile on her face as she ushered me in.
I looked around the spacious living area, tastefully furnished and with a breathtaking view of not only the Miami skyline, but also the ocean a few miles away. I found myself suddenly overwhelmed. This was much too luxurious for our purpose.
“I saved the biggest and nicest room for you and the boys.” Voke said, as she led me to a bedroom that was almost the size of our entire apartment in Lagos. “I’ve put their diapers in the other bedroom, and we can dump any other thing we get for them there as well. My room is right opposite this one.” then with a sly wink, added “If Pere comes, he’ll sleep on the couch.”
I looked at her, suddenly feeling like a deer caught in the headlights. “I’m not staying here by myself! You’re sleeping here with me!”
Voke laughed. “Yes Ma. But I’m still going to have my things in my bedroom. I think I’ll hang around here for an extra month or two after you guys return to Nigeria. I truly love it here. I didn’t think we’d get such a great view of the beach from here, considering we’re not exactly by the shore.”
“I think it’s too much. I think Pere is just trying to show off.” I muttered.
Voke scoffed. “So what if he is?! My dear, you are carrying his children, let him pay! He can afford it!” she took a seat beside me. “Look, Isio. I thought a lot about you two and realised it doesn’t have to be this hard. I take back my advise about you ‘fighting for him’. True love is never forced. And if, after all you’ve been through, he has still chosen to flaunt another woman in your face, forget about him. Don’t waste one tiny shred of your emotions on him. Instead, allow him do what he’s supposed to do, and that’s taking care of you and his children!”
I nodded, as she pretty much echoed what I had resolved to do, on the long haul flight over there. “It’s just so hard, you know. Pere is the only one I’ve ever really loved.”
“Then it’s time to open your heart to someone else, Isio!” she admonished.
And that was what led me to opening up to her about Kachi, a.k.a Apache. She listened with rapt attention as I told her about how close we’d become, only to drift apart again after Pere resurfaced, and when I was done talking, she was smiling broadly.
“So Apache finally was able to muster the courage to toast you!” she giggled. “That boy has loved you since day 1!”
“But I’m not sure I want to be with him either.” I said. “I don’t know if I was just lonely or maybe it was the pregnancy hormones. Voks, I didn’t notice him for years. Why is it now that he’s suddenly seeming interesting to me? Besides, what if he’s just like Obiora? No offence.”
“Apache and Obiora are nothing alike. They might be best friends, but that’s where their similarities end.” Voke said.
I caught on to her still referring to Obiora in the present tense, and realised she still had a long way to go to heal completely.
“But you’re right. Now isn’t the time to be making any decisions where either of them is concerned. What’s paramount is giving birth to your baby boys. Afterwards, whatever will be…will be.” Voke said.
I nodded, but I knew that before ending the Kachi discussion, there was a question I was dying to ask.
“Did you know the girlfriend he had? He said they were together for six years?” I asked.
“Hajara? I knew her well!” Voke exclaimed. “Apache was too good for that girl. One kin’ plain looking girl like this oh, but the worst part was the way she used the guy’s head!”
“Steadily!” Voke answered. “As ugly as she was, almost from the very beginning of their relationship, as Apache was dropping her at home, some aristo would be picking her up.”
“Did he know?”
“Everyone told him. Obiora and his friends filled his ears with all the gist they were hearing about her on a daily basis. Even her own friends used to secretly send Apache messages about what he was up to. But he refused to leave her oh. It was as if the girl had cast a spell on him!” Voke answered. “In the end, she’s the one that left him. She married one 419 guy and moved to Holland.”
“But all he told me was that they’d grown apart!” I exclaimed, not quite knowing whether or not to be angry with him for being selective with the truth.
“Apache would never bad mouth anyone. Even after they’d broken up, he never encouraged any of us to talk badly about her. He’s a good guy.” Voke answered.
“So why did you banish him and the rest of Obiora’s friends?” I asked, smiling at my sister.
“I just needed my space, Isio. I was really hurting from the Belinda betrayal, and seeing them was just a painful reminder I didn’t need.” she answered.
Later that night, I lay in bed with my eyes wide open, no thanks to jetlag, thinking about all Voke and I had talked about; her being able to let go of Obiora…and my need to also do the same for Pere. I made up my mind, then and there, to just allow things evolve naturally, whether for good or bad. I thought about Kachi, and accepted that I was still too conflicted about whatever I felt, or thought I was feeling, for him. I knew that the only great romance I needed to be focusing on…was the one with my two boys!
By the time sleep finally found me, I could only manage a few hours before my hospital appointment. No sleep was more important than being able to finally meet my delivery doctor, and upon seeing Dr. Mateo for the first time, my heart took to the pleasant-faced middle aged man immediately.
A scan showed the babies had both grown around 1 weeks, which is really good as it meant there was a high chance we could still stretch it to 34 weeks, or maybe even 36 weeks, meaning less time in the NICU. Having not been for any scan since one of the very earlier ones, Voke was so emotional, seeing how big the boys were, and how they looked like real actual babies.
That evening, Pere called briefly, and I gave him the update on the appointment. He told me he’d made plans to get there on September 21st, the very day I hit the 34 week mark, and I found myself relieved he wouldn’t be coming any earlier.
In the week that followed, Kachi also called, and that began our pattern of brief calls every other day, mainly to check to see how the boys and I were doing. It was as if we were both determined to keep things nice and neutral, and our calls never went beyond 5 to 10 minutes…which suited me just fine.
The following week, my week 32, I had another scan to check on the blood flow to the babies, and also to see if they had enough amniotic fluid. Everything was good, which meant 36 weeks could be an option. I briefly toyed with the idea of telling Pere not to travel so early, as it meant he would be idle for 2 weeks as we waited, but I thought against it. As long as I wouldn’t be responsible for his entertainment, I was fine. The major bonus was the the really good scan picture of both of the babies’ faces, which were so clear that Voke and I actually got into an argument over who looked like whom.
But when we had the growth scan, the outcome wasn’t so good. While Twin 1 had grown well since the last scan, Twin 2 had apparently only grown 1 day. Dr. Mateo immediately booked us for a c-section on September 22, the day after Pere was due to arrive.
As we rode back home, I just burst into tears. I felt so overwhelmed and as though this was all a dream…a bad dream. I knew that there was every likelihood that this would happen, but I realised I wasn’t mentally prepared for it. I was so worried about my precious little boys, especially the one who wasn’t growing well, and the thought of losing them was unbearable. Voke did all she could to console me, and even had to resort to calling the cavalry by having our mother, all the way from Nigeria, talk some sense into my head. It was all so surreal.
The remaining two weeks flew right by. I tried to keep my mind engaged and even attended Physiotherapy classes at the hospital, aimed at teaching us how to recover a c-section.
And soon, it was finally upon us.
The day before, Voke and were at the hospital for a Pre-Op and to fill required forms. Dr. Mateo told us he is delivering twins before me on the same day, the Mum of whom is 37 weeks pregnant. So, even though his preference was to have us in very early in the morning, there was the possibility of my c-section being postponed to later in the day, or even the following day, depending on whether those twins needed the neo-natal cots or not. All I could do was pray, because at that point, I just wanted everything to be over and done with.
“Aren’t you going to pick Pere up from the airport?” I asked Voke, as we drove home.
“He can find his way. He knows I’m with you, and I’m sure he doesn’t expect me to leave you by yourself just to chauffeur him here.” Voke retorted.
I didn’t argue as I was secretly happy that I wouldn’t have to be in the apartment by myself. Later than evening, at about 10pm, I heard the doorbell ring and Voke receive him, but I feigned being asleep. The last thing I needed to add to my anxiety, was Pere’s drama!
The next morning, I was up by 5am and was surprised to see Pere was not only awake, but fully dressed.
“Hi Isio. You were asleep when I arrived.” he said. “Wow! You’ve really grown since the last time I saw you.”
“Welcome, Pere. But I’m really not in the mood for small talk. I just want to get ready and start going.” I muttered.
He nodded in full understanding, and proceeded to stay out of my way. But I knew that, at the back of both our minds, was the realisation that we’d be meeting our boys that day. That day, they would cease to be images on a screen to real life replicas of him and I. And it was just as scary as it was exciting!
As the three of us drove to the hospital, I couldn’t help wishing we’d at least gotten to 36 weeks, as the babies wouldn’t have to spend that much time in the NICU. I worried it was still too soon for them to be born, and that they would be too little. What if something happened to them? I was desperate to keep them in my belly for a little longer. I wanted to protect them and keep them safe. I was scared. I was worried and I wanted more than anything in the world for our boys to be okay.
We got to the hospital at about 7.30am and were taken into a side room to wait for a room to become available. Whilst we were waiting, another lady, who was also expecting twins, arrived. She was 37 weeks pregnant and was advised that her twins were around 6 lbs. The nurse told us that we would be second after the other lady with the other twins had her c-section. After a little, while we were taken into a private room where we were to wait for our turn. In the room opposite was the other lady who was expecting twins.
Whilst waiting, a midwife strapped two monitors to my stomach, so that she could listen and record both babies heartbeats. Everything was good. Whilst one nurse took my blood pressure, another was taking my blood. One of the nurses asked if it would be okay for a student to ask me some questions and watch the birth. I didn’t mind, and neither did Pere or Voke, our unofficial and self-appointed ‘doula’. A trainee nurse then attempted to insert an IV into my hand. Big mistake! She managed to go right through my vein! I’m usually okay at the sight of blood, but my dripping hand was enough to make me feel quite faint. She was very apologetic, but with what we knew was really at stake, none of us gave her any grief.
As the time drew closer to when we would meet our babies, the more emotional I became. One minute I would find myself crying, and the next I was laughing. Time flew by so quickly, and before I knew it, I was being wheeled into the theatre in a very attractive green hospital gown! Pere was taken to another room so that he could change into a gown. I knew Voke was disappointed about not getting the chance to also be in the theatre, but whatever my feelings for Pere, I couldn’t deny him the chance to see his babies coming into the world.
As I approached the operating theatre, my heart began pumping faster and I could feel myself trying to catch my breath. I was so nervous and scared. I couldn’t stop crying. Whilst I was waiting for Pere to join me, the anaesthetist explained that he was going to spray my back and would then be giving me a spinal. During this time another doctor was injecting pain relief into my IV. The spinal didn’t hurt, but I did jump when he sprayed my back as it was so cold! I was shaking and my legs were going like crazy. The doctor asked me why I was shaking so much, but I couldn’t get any words out.
Pere arrived by my side and held my hand straight away.
“You can do this, Isio!” he said reassuringly. I looked at him, and I suddenly felt energised and strengthened, ready to do what I needed to for our babies.
Dr. Mateo proceeded to explain the process, telling me I would feel some pressure and a tugging sensation. And very shortly after, a beautiful cry announced the arrival of Twin 1! The doctor asked Pere if he wanted to look as he was being brought out, and I panicked.
“Please don’t look,” I pleaded, worried he would pass out at the sight of my open stomach but even more about being left on my own. It’s funny now when I think back to it, but at the time I was petrified at the thought. Despite my pleas, he did look and thankfully he didn’t pass out!
And so that’s how, at 11:43am, Twin 1, Dagogo Jordan Lawson came into the world, weighing 4 lbs 3oz and with a mass of thick black hair. Two minutes later, Twin 2, Datubo Jayden Lawson was born weighing 2 lbs 11oz.
The doctors took them both straight away to the adjoining room, and one of the doctors held the door open so we could hear our babies crying. As the doctors cleaned me up, Pere went into the room to be with our boys and he managed to film them both on his camcorder. After the doctors had done initial tests and before the boys were taken to the NICU, they were brought to me to see. Words will never begin to describe the feeling of seeing my sons. It was so overwhelming, the tears came rushing forth again. Holding my children for the first time was the best feeling in the world. Absolutely nothing will ever be able to compare. But before I could even hold them for long, they were whisked off to the NICU, a harsh reminder of our reality.
“Are they going to be okay?” I asked Pere anxiously. “Did they tell you anything?”
“They’ll be fine.” he answered, and without warning leaned over to kiss me. “Thank you for this beautiful gift, Isio. You have made me the happiest man in the whole world!”
There was magic!
Catch up on Isio’s story here:
- Iya Beji 1: A Series of Unfortunate Events
- Iya Beji 2: Destiny Blocker
- Iya Beji 3: Daisy
- Iya Beji 4: Upgrade
- Iya Beji 5: Bleeding Love
- Iya Beji 6: The Beast
- Iya Beji 7: The Standby Guy
- Iya Beji 8: The Boss
- Iya Beji 9: The Deal Breaker
- Iya Beji 10: The Convert
- Iya Beji 11: Hiatus
- Iya Beji 12: Never Stopped
- Iya Beji 13: Jealousy
- Iya Beji 14: Pure Magic
- Iya Beji 15: Congratulations, Mrs. Clarke!
- Iya Beji 16: Blast from the Past
- Iya Beji 17: The Offer
- Iya Beji 18: Co-Parenting
- Iya Beji 19: The Baby Mama
- Iya Beji 20: Carried Away
- Iya Beji 21: The Return of Belinda
- Iya Beji 22: Gender Reveal
- Iya Beji 23: Bargaining Tool
- Iya Beji 24: The Wedding That Would Never Be
- Iya Beji 25: Voke versus Belinda
- Iya Beji 26: Somewhere Far Away
- Iya Beji 27: Damsel in Distress
- Iya Beji 28: Inconsequential
- Iya Beji 29: Something Beautiful
- Iya Beji 30: Yesterday’s Mistake