The day of Simisola’s wedding was an emotion-laden one for her. More than the fact that a new chapter of her life was starting, and she knew not what lay ahead; she was moving out of Abuja, a city where she was born and raised. The farthest she had lived from Abuja was when she was in the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, which was just about two hours from Abuja, and she always managed to come home every once in a while. Her bags were packed, and as she danced away from the reception hall and jetted off to her honeymoon, arm in hand with her Beau, Tope, she wondered what her new life in Port Harcourt was going to be like. She was acutely aware of the fact that she had resigned from her job in the private firm she worked, since they had no branch office in Port Harcourt. As the flight attendant made the take off announcements, she swallowed hard, and hoped that she would get pregnant on her honeymoon, and return home to responses to the numerous applications she had already put forward in Port Harcourt.
After two blissful weeks in Fiji, Simisola and Tope returned home, and her life as a married woman began. Married at 23, she was relatively naive, but Tope was kind and patient with her. She soon learnt how he kept his home, and realized that everyone had different structure and pattern for running their home. As a Marine Engineer, Tope was attached to a Multinational oil company, so he had to go onshore a few days after they returned home. Some of the companies she had written had graciously responded, and informed her that they were not looking to employ at the time. She didn’t hear from the others. Simisola found herself wrapping her arms below her bust as she walked around the noiseless apartment aimlessly. “I need a baby to keep me company,” she told her husband over the phone one night, complaining about how lonely she was feeling. Tope had laughed as he replied “After all my hard work in Fiji, I am sure you are probably knocked up by now.” “Either a baby, or a job, or both! I need something before boredom drives me crazy” Simisola continued. Tope smiled as he encouraged her to be patient, assuring her that she was going to get both baby and job soon. “Meanwhile, you can be visiting my mom whenever you are bored” he added. To which Simisola shook her head, she was wary of getting too close for comfort to her Mother-in-law. ”Let everyone stay in their lane, abeg!” she told her husband.
Two days later, Simisola felt wetness in her underwear while she was cooking herself lunch. Curious, she went into the bathroom and checked; her underwear was stained in blood. Her period had showed up. “That’s weird!” she echoed into the bathroom, as she cleaned up, going down memory lane to make sure she was correct about her assumption. She finished her washing and went to get her phone to check her ovulation calculator. She was right; she had ovulated while on her honeymoon, and she and her hubby had gone sex-crazy; sometimes having each other for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The sex they had in those two weeks was more than Simisola had probably had in all her adult life. She certainly wasn’t expecting her period to show. “So this month is gone?” she asked herself rhetorically as she put the phone down and continued with her cooking. The one virtue Simisola wasn’t blessed with was patience; she was already getting sad at the thought of waiting for another month before getting pregnant.
Tope was soon back home, and Simisola never felt bored. He always returned early from work, and never failed to show her round the bubbly city of Port Harcourt. She soon got hooked to their roasted plantain and peppered fish sauce, and they took evening strolls almost every day to get some. During the day she read books and watched TV, as well as chatted with all her friends and relatives in Abuja. Her younger sister, Dupe was already asking when she could come to Port Harcourt for holiday. The days went by quickly, and Tope had to go on his two week work trip again. It was then Simisola remembered to check job sites, and newspapers for vacancies she could apply for. Nobody seemed to need someone with her qualifications, so she soon got tired of perusing for vacancies. To add to her frustration, she ovulated five days after Tope travelled. Another month, gone! Simisola was starting to wonder if she had made a good decision to leave Abuja after all. At least, there she had her job.
One evening, she was cuddled up and watching a movie when she heard a knock on the door. Alarmed, because she wasn’t expecting anybody, she rushed into her room to get properly dressed before going to answer the door; somehow hoping Tope had staged a surprise return. It was her mother-in-law at the door. She greeted the older woman, only to get a “You attend Living Faith abi, how come I never see you in church?” Before her light stammering could translate to something tangible, her MIL continued “Today is Wednesday, I have come for us to attend mid-week service together.”
“Why didn’t Tope ever tell me his mother was this nice?” was the question Simisola kept asking herself all through the drive home from church, her selective memory refusing to acknowledge all the times her husband praised his mother. Her mother-in-law was apparently well known in the church, and after service, had introduced her to everyone around. Some even recognized Simisola, as they had attended her wedding, but what touched Simisola was the fact that her mother-in-law introduced her, not as “My son’s wife”, but as “My newest daughter”. On their way home, she talked to Simisola about the need for her to draw close to God. “You, young people do not know the importance of prayer, but my dear, marriage is not easy. It is only God that can give a woman the grace and strength that she needs to do well.” After Simisola had nodded and promised to attend services and church activities regularly, Tope’s mother continued “I know it is not easy leaving the life you had in Abuja, to start a new life here with my son. My husband and I were also living in Akure, before government work transferred us to Port Harcourt in the early 80s. It was not easy at all, because all my friends and relatives were in Akure and I practically had to start making friends all over again. But don’t worry, before you know, you would blend in very well. Shebi, Tope takes you around town?” Simisola nodded, allowing the older woman to continue “Don’t mind Tope oh, I know he can be stubborn sometimes, but if he looks for your trouble, just tell me, so’ti gbo?” Simisola smiled as she nodded, making a mental note to tease Tope whenever she wanted to get her way. “I’ll report you to your mother oh” she said to herself, smiling.
Since then, Simisola found herself spending more and more time in church, attending every church activity, including vigils with her Mother-in-law. Whenever Tope was around, they all went together, and it wasn’t long before she started volunteer work in church. One evening, as her hands were lifted up in praise, with a joyful heart; thanking God for seeing her into her seventh week of pregnancy, she felt someone tap her from behind and she turned. The lady behind her, whispered into her ears “You are stained, Simi, I think it’s blood.” Fear gripped her heart as she checked her skirt; truly, there were blood stains on it. She blinked twice, wondering if the two pregnancy tests she had carried were false. But she was having nausea and morning sickness that came with pregnancy. How could she be bleeding? She scanned the church for her Mother-in-law, but found her eyes closed, deep in worship. She didn’t want to interrupt the woman’s moment of worship, so she rushed out of church, tied her scarf around her waist, hailed a cab and gave directions to the hospital.
By the time Simisola got to the hospital, she was already writhing in severe pain. Her mother-in-law had apparently noticed her absence and called her. She also had abandoned the service and was rushing to meet up with her. Simisola knew even before the doctor said anything, she knew she had lost the baby. Crying from the severe pain she was feeling, and the emotional hurt she felt, she filled forms, consenting for the baby to be properly evacuated. Some days later, her mother-in-law took her home, preaching, encouraging and mouthing words of prayers. All of which Simisola was oblivious to. It had taken months before her ovulation synced with the period that Tope was home, and that was only because of a long weekend, as a result of the Eid Mubarak celebrations. She was four weeks gone when she had found out that she was pregnant. The following two weeks, she was practically walking on clouds, elated at the prospect of being a mother. She had even agreed with her hubby to put her job search on hold, and concentrate on birthing their child.
The weeks following Simisola’s miscarriage, her mother-in-law proved to be a strong pillar of support. She practically visited her everyday, since Simisola declined her invitation to move in with her. Simisola’s mother also came to spend time with her grieving daughter, and the two older women bonded perfectly. They had gotten along during the wedding ceremonies, but now had time and room to share stories, wise words and experiences. In between both women, Simisola was able to heal emotionally and got back into her bubbly, cheerful self. Before her mother left, both women agreed that it was probably time for Simisola to really look for a job. Tope’s mother also made up her mind to beg her son to take some few days leave, to coincide with Simisola’s fertile window. Simisola however withdrew from church, no matter how her mother-in-law coerced her. You see, she had excitedly shared her pregnancy testimony in church, and dreaded receiving condolences from those who were in the know of her miscarriage or How is the baby doing from those who didn’t know. For her, whether people knew she had lost the baby or not, she was not ready to deal with the outcome.
Not long after, she secured a job in a private school as an administrative staff. “These private schools pay well oh“, she told her husband that night, still surprised herself that her start off salary was just twenty percent lower than what she earned when she was in Abuja. “And the good part is I close by 4pm, and since Trans Amadi isn’t far, I can be home by 4:30pm! “Tope was happy to see the light in her eyes; his wife had not admitted it, but she had not fully recovered from their miscarriage. He did work around his schedule the next month, and was able to be home during Simisola’s fertile window. By this time, they had mastered the art of timed sex and were also taking supplements just to be on the safe side. Simisola had learnt the beauty in patience, and decided not to hurry about running tests. A couple of weeks later, she started feeling cramps and felt as though her flow was going to show, but after a week of no show, she decided to get tested. Not believing the two pink lines on her pregnancy kit, she drove to the hospital for a proper blood test, and was elated when the result came out positive!
The joy that the couple felt was beyond words, but they decided not to share their news so early. Only their mothers were informed. A few weeks later, Simisola found that she was spotting, and rushed to the hospital, praying silently for God to show His mercy. Luckily, the doctor alleviated her fears, but placed her on bed-rest. Apparently, eager to impress on the new job, Simisola was working herself to the bone. It was a threatened abortion, which was, luckily, contained. Months later, Simisola and Tope welcomed their patter of feet; Durosimi Ayomipo Joshua Majekodunmi. There were no dry eyes the evening, Simisola shared her testimony in church; she now had a job, new friends, a happy marriage and a baby to dote on.
The storm was over and she was basking in the sunlight.
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