From the way she talked, it was clear that Mary had a hard time dealing with this new feeling of hers that had come to light. It was not something she consciously thought about, but the slow pace of the last week of year 2016 gave her thoughts so much chance to roam, and then it bubbled to her consciously.
Her family was incomplete.
She had been nursing a cup of tea, facing an east window, trying to get some of the early morning sun on her face and see if it would boost her suddenly down spirit. The house was empty, her three children had gone with their cousins, who came to Nigeria for the first time, to grandma’s place. The nanny was with them and her husband was in the office, closing down for the year. That was the perfect opportunity to catch up on her sleep, or movies, or something, but she was sad.
It had started from watching all the children together and their interactions, the way they had blended, even though they were just meeting physically for the first time. It had crept up on her and as the days went by, it was slowing down her movements, she was tired, listless, angry and out of sorts.
Her husband had asked if anything was the matter but Mary had no answer, because she didn’t know what the matter was.
But that morning, she knew exactly what ailed her, what was making her slow down; her miscarriage.
Even though Mary now has three children, two boys and one girl, she had been pregnant four times. The third time, she carried twins, which she lost at 21 weeks.
It was a painful loss, but she was happier that it was caught on time via scan, that one of the babies had stopped breathing and the other’s heartbeat was quite faint. Another day and both babies had died in utero. She was happy that her life was spared with the early detection because, according to the doctor, if an evacuation had not been done on time, it would have been a different matter altogether.
Caught up in the euphoria of having her life spared, she had not mourned the loss of her precious twins, whose birth she had been looking forward to. Her older son had gotten into the habit of kissing the bump before going to school, her younger son always wanted a ride on the bump, and her husband still found it hard to believe she was having twins.
Not one of her family members had a chance to mourn their loss. Everyone was concerned about her health. When she discovered she was pregnant again, a few months later, life pretty much went on as usual.
But years after the whole drama, years after she had her daughter, her last child, the miscarriage finally caught up with her. It was a low blow, an unexpected experience, which turned a festive season into one of mourning for her.
That night, her husband met her in the same pajamas he had left her wearing in the morning, and she looked her grief. Now, there was no need to ask if anything was wrong. It was more a question of what was wrong?
Mary shared with her husband what had been bothering her, and that night, for the first time, they both grieved for their adorable twins babies, that grew but never became.
It was a particularly painful loss for another mother of two, Biodun, whose first pregnancy ended even before it began.
The cramping started in the car on her way to meet up with a few friends on a Saturday, to watch a movie and get some massages.
It felt like the cramps that indicate Aunty Flo was coming. Very soon, those cramps turned really angry, and she couldn’t withstand the pain. More importantly, she had started to bleed, which was sort of off, because in the past, she would have at least a few hours after the cramps started to prepare for the flow.
With the pain more intense now, Biodun called her husband, excused herself from the on-going girl bonding, and was driven to the hospital.
She was asked lots of questions and underwent physical examination while medication to relieve her pain was administered.
Different theories were propounded; maybe she had a cyst on her ovaries that burst. Maybe she had fibroids. Maybe it was just a period more painful than usual, they wondered.
A whole hospital full of doctors and nurses, yet no one could say exactly what the problem was, just that she was in pain and bleeding. And then suddenly, she wasn’t anymore, and whatever “it” was, it was for her doctor to sort out, but it probably wasn’t anything too major.
Her doctor later showed up and it turned out it was major.
Before this drama, Biodun and her husband had been trying to get pregnant for a few months before then, and had gone through all the requisite paces to create a family together.
Biodun was doing everything the books told her to do to create that family; popping folic acid, checking and charting her temperature, and stalking her ovulation. And her husband, bless his heart, came along for the ride, dutifully doing his part to make their dream of creating a little human being together a reality, even when it started feeling more like a chore than a loving act between a man and his wife.
And that month when her period was late and she had peed on a stick and saw the faint pink line, she was kinda happy for the kind of news that the pregnancy test seemed to be telling.
Perhaps she was pregnant. Maybe not, but a faint line meant something, right? It was that something she hung on to. That something could mean she was going to be a mom afterall.
A blood test later and that something became real, Biodun was going to be a momma!
And then it happened.
“You had a miscarriage,” her doctor had said. Too easily for Biodun’s liking. “These things happen,” he explained in measured, clipped, technical terms. “You get pregnant and the embryo isn’t of the best quality…and your body, knowing it’s not sustainable, expels it.”
Those were four most hurtful words; you, had, a, and miscarriage. They echoed in her heart, her head and her body. They were all she heard and then the waterworks started, uncontrollably.
Her doctor said she was going to be fine, her husband said the same thing, but she wasn’t fine…at all.
For weeks, she was fixated on the baby who was supposed to be her first born. She wondered, if he/she would have been round and sweet like her or a rough-and-tumble little boy, who would have been full of giggles and spirit like his daddy.
Mostly, she wondered why God would see fit to let her get pregnant and, before she even knew for sure if she was with child, would take her baby away from her.
He has since blessed her with three others, though—a boy and a girl, she carried and birthed on her own, and a stepson, all of who bring her joy every day.
However, the memories of that first pregnancy reside in the inside on her, and she often imagines what that child would have looked like, if she/he were to be alive today.
It can be hard to get over a miscarriage but it is not impossible. However, what’s hard to let go is the memories of the child that would have resulted.
Or perhaps, such memories aren’t supposed to be let go.
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