I was completely zoned out for the first couple of hours in the recovery hours, mainly as a result of the heavy duty pain meds I was on. When I was up, a nurse helped me to express some colostrum (first milk) by hand for the babies. She reassured me that every tiny drop was important, so even though I was bone tired, I had to make extra effort to cooperate. Whilst I was in the recovery room, Pere was with the babies in the NICU.
“Have you seen them?” I asked Voke, who sat beside me, after having made all the required phone calls to Nigeria. I’d only been able to manage to speak to our parents, whose screams of jubilation had sucked all the strength out of me, such that I wasn’t able to talk to anyone else.
She shook her head. “I wasn’t allowed to, but Pere took some pictures and he showed me. They’re gorgeous, Isio!” she gushed.
“How are they? Are they doing okay?” I asked in concern.
“They are, babe. Don’t worry yourself. Pere was with them when they put in their feeding tubes, so at least they’re getting some nourishment.” she answered.
I had to fight back the tears, at the mental image of our babies with tubes everywhere. And if I was feeling this way, I could only wonder how Pere felt having to see them for himself. “How is he? Pere.”
“He’s better now. He said he felt so useless and helpless at first…watching the boys being poked and prodded. But now that they’re settled, I think he’s fine.”
“Have you called Kachi?” I asked Voke.
She smiled at me. “Apache can wait till later. I only focused on our immediate family for now. I even helped Pere call his mom, since he couldn’t do it himself.”
Oh wow. Pere’s mother. I hadn’t even thought of her. Apart from knowing she was in the U.K. with her sister, recuperating from surgery, Pere and I hardly ever discussed her.
“How did she sound?” I asked, suddenly curious.
“She screamed even louder than mom, if that’s possible!” Voke laughed. “She was hella excited! Her first grandchildren, are you kidding? Look, we might be here being sober because the boys are in the NICU, but somewhere in London, and not to mention Ogudu GRA, some people are probably popping champagne over the arrival of their first grandkids!”
“Did you tell them that the boys are in the NICU?” I countered.
Voke threw me a dirty look. “The fact that they are in the NICU doesn’t negate the fact that we need to be joyful. You should be grateful, Isio!”
I immediately felt bad, because I knew she was right. I was allowing myself sink into a miserable party where I was the only guest. Yes, my boys had been born earlier than I’d have liked, and yes, they needed some special care, but they were healthy! And truthfully, that was what mattered the most.
When the boys were settled, Pere came to join me in the recovery room. Voke had returned home briefly, with the plan to return later.
“How are they?” was the very first thing I asked him.
He smiled reassuringly. “They’re fine” then pulling out his phone, he showed me the pictures he had taken.
Looking at the boys, our beautiful baby boys, lying so small and helpless in the incubators broke me. It was the physical confirmation of what I’d conjured in my head. “They’re so small!” I exclaimed.
From the shifty look in his eyes, I knew there was something Pere wasn’t telling me.
“What’s wrong?!” I demanded.
“I was watching Dagogo sleeping, and it was so strange seeing how he was pulling his stomach in to breath. It seemed he was using all of his energy and strength. Then Dr. Mateo pretty much confirmed my fears by saying he was struggling to breathe on his own and that he needed to be ventilated immediately. So he’s on a ventilator now.” he answered.
My heart crashed right to my feet. As if imagining my babies with feeding tubes wasn’t enough, I now had to picture them in a ventilator!!! All I could think about was our little boy struggling for life. Struggling to draw breath. The fact that I couldn’t go and see them immediately, made the whole situation even harder. All of a sudden I realised how fragile these two little boys were and how quickly the situation could change for the worse.
I didn’t even realise I was crying until Pere put his arms around me. I cried till my eyes ached. I felt powerless. All I wanted to do was be with our boys, but I couldn’t. I wanted to hold them, hug them, tell them how much I loved them, but I couldn’t. I hadn’t even seen them properly. I couldn’t remember what they looked like. What if the worst happened and I never got to see them again.
Later that evening, a special care doctor, Dr. Grobas, came into the room to better explain to us the situation with the boys. He told us that Datubo had a drip to help keep him hydrated and that he needed to be kept warm because he was very small, meaning he couldn’t maintain his own body temperature yet. Dagogo, on the other hand, had a CPAP mask on, because his lungs weren’t fully developed and had respiratory distress syndrome. He went on to explain that he needed to be ventilated because he was struggling to breathe on his own. But as daunting as it all sounded, he was positive that the boys would be fine.
As if to affirm things for himself, Pere went back to the NICU with the doctor, and returned about an hour later. Even though he had a smile on his face, his eyes were red, and I knew he’d been crying. By this time, I was darned well going out of my own mind.
To my surprise, he didn’t even try to put up a front. “When I went back, Dagogo had a big tube down his throat…” he shook his head and tears gushed some more from his eyes. I reached out to squeeze his hand, even though I also had tears pouring down my own face. In all the years I’d known Pere, I’d never seen him cry…ever! “Isio, my legs turned to jelly and I just had to sit down. For the first time, it hit me…and I cried like a baby. I know the boys are getting the best possible care in the world, but I’m just so angry that this had to happen to us after everything that we have already been through!”
A part of me wanted to ask what exactly he meant by what ‘we’d already been through’, but that was quickly subdued by the grief I also felt. It almost felt like our joy was being taken away from us.
Even though the plan had been for Pere to return home and Voke to return in the evening, so she could spend the night with me, Pere refused to budge, so Voke had no choice but to return home after briefly coming back to the hospital in the evening.
As the day wore on, I felt so overwhelmed. I couldn’t lift my legs. I felt a mess. I felt dizzy and sick. My blood pressure kept dropping and I just wanted to be left alone. I didn’t even want to see another doctor or nurse. All I wanted was to be able to see my boys!
Later that night, the nurses came to move me out of the recovery room to a private ward. With all of my heart, I didn’t want to go to a ward. There would be women there with their babies. I didn’t have my babies with me and I didn’t know how I would coped hearing babies all around me. Yes, there would be none in our room, but the walls weren’t that thick!
When I was being wheeled out of the recovery room, the nurses wheeled me into the special care unit to see our boys. Unfortunately, the trolley wouldn’t fit through the doors so I couldn’t see them. But I finally got to see them at 10:37pm. Pere was able to get a wheelchair, and he took me to meet our girls. Words will never really be enough to explain the next few moments. As I approached Datubo’s incubator first, I was scared. Pere helped me to stand and I looked down on my baby boy. He was so incredibly small. All 2lbs 11oz of him. His skin was so red and he was covered in tiny hairs. He had wrinkly skin on his knees and elbows, very fine hair on his head, and tiny little fingers and tiny toes. Everything about him was just so tiny and so delicate. I was allowed to hold him and I will always remember for as long as I live the feeling of the warmth of the incubator. As I held him, I cried. He was so peaceful and breathed so slowly and calmly, I had to listen really careful to make sure he was still breathing.
I was only able to hold him for a short while, but it was the best feeling in the world. Datubo and Dagogo were in different rooms, but they were only across the hall from each other. The reason they were in different rooms was because Datubo was low dependancy, whereas Dagogo was high dependancy. We weren’t allowed to hold Dagogo because he was on a ventilator, but we were allowed to touch him. Seeing him, this tiny, vulnerable little baby with a huge tube down his throat was heartbreaking. It was so hard to watch his tiny chest rise and fall. He was also jaundiced, so was under a special light. He had so much black hair! I loved how it felt…so soft, almost like silk. Like Datubo, he also had fine hairs all over body, on his back, his ears and even on the back of his arms…and his skin felt so warm.
We told both boys how much we loved them, and then after a while we returned to our room to try and get some sleep. I woke every 3 hours to express colostrum, so I didn’t get much sleep, but I felt like I was doing something positive for our boys.
But it still didn’t feel enough.
“I just feel so useless!” I lamented, after extracting colostrum for the umpteenth time. “Here I am, lying on a bed, when my sons are fighting for their lives!”
“What you’re doing for them, Isio, nobody else can. Not even me!” Pere assured me. “And the boys will be just fine.”
I sighed heavily, knowing I had no choice but to trust that he was correct.
“We’ve come a long way…you and I.” he said, after we’d sat in congenial silence for a while. “Who would have thought this would be us one day, sitting in a hospital room, talking about newborn preemie sons.”
“Twin sons for that matter!” I remarked. “Never in a million light years would I have imagined this.”
“I kind of always knew you’d be the mother of my children.” Pere said, smiling at me.
I found myself disarmed by his smile, and smiled nervously back. “You sure could have fooled me.” I teased.
“Call it fate or destiny…who knows.” he said.
And there it was again. The same magic I’d felt the previous day in the operating theatre…and the night the boys had been conceived…and so many other occasions in between.
“Have you called Ogechi?” I asked.
He shook his head. “Not yet.”
I had to keep myself from smiling and whooping out loud. If he hadn’t called his girlfriend in over 24 hours, that surely had to count for something.
And for the first time since the boys were born, I felt happy and content. Happy and content because I knew that we were going to be a family…in the true sense of the word! Pere and I would end up together…just like the old times!
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
- Iya Beji 31: Miami Magic