She stood up suddenly beside me, that I knew something was wrong. I looked at her, and she was already out of her chair and going round the table we were sharing.
She said, “Iya beji, I’m coming. I’m feeling somehow.” Before I could digest what she said, she had left, but less than 20 minutes later, she was back and smiling.
That was when she told me how she had been feeling like the witch had arrived and how she couldn’t wait for it to go on a 9-month hiatus. That was when it dawned on me exactly what she was talking about.
For the purpose of this article, I will call her Efe. Efe is a mother of a seven year old boy, and she and her husband had been trying for years for another baby, but nothing was happening. Instead, the witch would show up like clockwork every month. She has suffered two miscarriages; the last one was a particularly painful one, and she shared her experience with me. That was almost two years ago, but till date, it has become a struggle to even conceive.
“Sometimes, I pity my son. He’s just so lonely. I look at him and how he’s playing all by himself, and I remember how, if that miscarriage hadn’t happened, he would have a sibling to play with now. In fact, if my two miscarriages hadn’t happened, he would have two siblings to play with, but here he is playing all by himself.”
Efe got pregnant soon after she got married, and she had given birth to her son. Not using any contraceptives yet, she had conceived again, eight months after that childbirth, but lost it three months later. Even though it wasn’t planned, the pregnancy was a welcome addition, one that would have fast-tracked the childbearing business for her.
After that miscarriage, she moved on and got on a contraceptive for one year. By the time their baby was two years old, they actively started trying for another baby, and it just wasn’t working. At first, they were not worried, but as the years started to go by, oh boy, did the worry start!
Close to a couple of years back, Efe got pregnant out of the blue. It was spontaneous, it was unexpected, it was totally welcome. It was so hard to get over the fact that she was now pregnant, after several years of trying.
The months she stayed pregnant were magical, they were special; it was a special bonding time for her family; husband and son. Her growing bump was a rally point for them and they spent many an evening talking to that bump, calling it by the name they had selected years ago.
So, you can imagine the pain and trauma they all went through when suddenly, she developed a pain in her lower abdomen one evening, and noticed there were dark blood stains in her underwear.
She called her husband frantically, and less than 30 minutes after the pain started, she was in the hospital, but the deed was done. A scan revealed the pregnancy was no longer viable, infact, the embryo’s growth was not equal to its age in-utero.
“When the doctor told me this, I was just thinking, how can God give me this baby that I craved so much for, and then take it away from me? Why did He have to do that? If He doesn’t want to give me, I can live with it, but to give me a taste of heaven and withdraw it, is pure wickedness.
I had no words for the doctor; in fact, I had no words for anybody. It was my husband who took charge and asked when the evacuation would be done. For all the interest I showed in the proceedings in the doctor’s office, I might as well have been a passer-by. ”
From the doctor’s office, they headed home with the directive to come back the next day, and were told of the possibility that the remains of the embryo would have passed by then. If not, then she would be given something to move the process along.
Nothing happened during the night, except she hardly slept a wink and spent the night wondering how it had all come down to this.
The next day, after the school drop off, the hospital was the next stop, and there, the doctor, true to his words, prescribed medication to help push the remains of the baby out.
The danger was that no one told her it was going to be a painful process. No, make that a very painful process. She was told it would help push the remains out, not that she would go into labour, because that was exactly what happened.
And it only served to make her feel her loss keenly. Not only had she lost a baby, she went through so much pain to get the baby’s remains out of her body.
Efe had this to say about her experience; “It was with a heavy heart that I left the doctor’s office, with my prescription. But you know what, I decided to go ahead and go with it, so we could get this behind us and start trying to pregnant again.
I know, we all react to medications different and other women’s experience may differ from mine but this was not a good experience for me.
Iya beji, I was in labour (she air quoted ‘labour’ for emphasis) for 5 hours straight, with nothing to manage the pain that came with it.
For those five hours, I was in pain unimaginable. It was even worse than when I had my son. It was that painful.
Not only was it difficult emotionally, knowing our baby was now officially gone and feeling it pass through me, it was honestly the worst pain I have ever experienced, for 5 straight hours.
I’m still waiting for my rainbow baby and hoping that it comes soonest, before I grow weary.
My son has played by himself enough.”
All I could do, as she concluded her story, was just to squeeze her hands. I honestly had no words of comfort for her.
She didn’t have to share, but for some reason, she did. We have never talked that deeply ever, even though we have known each other for a long time now.
Was it okay to share her story, I asked. She nodded and the moment was lost, as we had to attend to see to the reason we were sharing the same table that day.
To all the ‘Efes’ out there, who eagerly wait for the day Aunty Flo will take a 9-month long break, here’s sending you loads of baby dust and sticky wishes.
Hold on, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
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