Somewhere in the world, an unbearable cry pierced the darkness.
It was the sound of pain.
The sound of birth.
And the sound of death.
Beyond happy is what we are. I look at our intertwined hands resting on my belly and I marvel at the powers that be. Dami is at his happiest, I know this because he did the electric dance when the doctor confirmed I was pregnant. The only other times I’ve seen him do this was at our wedding and then again when his design was featured in the last issue of architectural digest.
One might wonder why we are this happy. Truth is, we’d been trying for years and the road has been tortuous and daunting. In our clime, where you marry not just the man but his family, everyone feels entitled to let you how you should go about starting your own family. It didn’t matter that Dami and I wanted the first 2 years to ourselves, to get to just be in that “bubble” before starting a family and when the kids were not forthcoming eventually, my mother-in-law began to give me the eye.
Initially, I didn’t mind so much but as time went by, I began to wonder about what the problem could be. Dami wasn’t perturbed, whenever I bring it up, he says “What would be would be”, and if anyone dared question me, the good man I married would come to bat for me. His courage, his strength, his unwavering belief became an ocean from which I greedily slurped.
Finally, here we are, anticipating the birth of our little prince. Dami teases me on how I already refer to the baby as a “he”. What does he know, I strongly feel it’s a boy. Dami’s favourite thing now is talking to my belly whenever he gets the chance. He tells the baby all these cute stories. Nothing is beyond limits. Our little prince has heard our love story, from the rocky start to the blissful progress and of cause, how he is a lucky little man to have a good mother and an exceptional father-we usually laugh at this last statement, Dami is nervous about the prospect of being a father.
This day, Dami is hunched over my belly prattling to the baby as usual, when it hits me-a hundred decibel pain so sharp I lose my breathe for a minute. The gasp I let out as I clutch the bump barely visible under my maxi gown makes Dami raise his head with a look of concern on his face. I try for a smile just to reassure him, but it comes off as a wince, because a second pain much sharper than the first hits again.
“Temi, what is wrong?” The panic is clear in his voice now.
“I don’t know.” I whisper softly.
By now, my fingers are locked on the arm rest in a death grip, as I try to get up, and that’s when I feel it, the warm liquid flowing down my thighs. I look helplessly at the crimson pool quickly forming on my cream Persian rug. I clamp a hand over my mouth to keep from crying as my head tries to process what is going on. My peripheral vision catches the look of disbelief, pain and confusion flitting across Dami’s face. That is the last thing I see, before my world goes dark. When I wake up, I’m greeted by the grim look on my doctor’s face as he mouths the words, “I’m sorry Temi, we tried all we could….” This makes me recall “Norms”, a poem I stumbled on a few months ago. The words greatly echo my feelings at this moment.
The warm winds blow relentlessly on the shore of my thoughts
I perceive the air in its wetness, smells like earth
on this path again, my own road less travelled
I hope for a different outcome; I pray for it
The times have been unkind or life unfair
either way I’m out in the rain with one less umbrella
waiting for this libation from the gods
to drench my wary spirit
I hope it does; I imagine it will
Alas we were never known for getting what we want
how could we? We didn’t invent time
so we sit like chairs in the cogwheel of life waiting
collectively in supplication;
interminably hoping for an unknown outcome
I try to speak but no words would come, the tears are flowing freely now. Dami holds my hands in his, places his forehead against mine as we both weep at the moments that would never be. Our hearts are bleeding now, I feel like someone just ripped out my heart and fed it to the wolves. This is what it means to know a love so unconditional and not experience it fully. We cry till the tears flow no more.
The ride back home is silent, laden with unspoken words and unvoiced fears. Could we ever make it past this? Would we ever know the joy of parenthood? What did we do wrong? I feel Dami’s eyes on me, he is concerned because he knows me well enough to know I’m tethering on the edge and anything can nudge me over. I return his gaze and give a small smile, I hope that reassures him a little.
My mother-in-law is the first person I see the following day, I wish this were not so-there is mutual respect, no close relationship ever developed, but strangely she envelops me in a bear hug and I see her sniff to hold back tears. I cling to her as if she were a lifeline, when we pull apart, I see a new kind of expression in her eyes-understanding.
The days that follow are difficult. The aura around my home is changed. The smiles don’t come as easy as they used to, even things between Dami and I are no longer rosy. I’m so buried in my pain that I cannot find any comfort within me to give him. Somewhere at the back of my mind, I realize we need to start mending, but how do we begin?
Today, I have decided I’m going to have a baby and nothing is going to stop me. I awake, pumped and ready to go. I am determined. I have learned to mask the pain, plaster a smile and go about my daily activity. Dami does not like the new me, the me that makes us have sex on the clock, in awkward positions because I read somewhere that it would make us have a baby faster. I am monitoring my ovulation cycle like a vulture, I am going to the doctor for all sorts of tests now, I am killing us slowly, but at this point, I do not care, I just want to feel the way I felt when something beautiful was growing inside me.
Months pass, still nothing. The months are running into each other now, I am losing count. I am beginning to accept my fate. I am subdued, depressed, sad. What can I do except accept the hand which the universe has dealt me.
Every situation has it’s turning point. For me, it is the day I meet Gbenro. Looking at his angelic face and his cherubic smile, I know that feeling I’d been longing for once again.
The events that lead up to our meeting is one that wouldn’t have happened in my routine life. I consider myself a charitable person, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to be charitable, so I and Dami joining my friend Deola for her 30th birthday celebration at the Omega Hearts Children home is truly out of character.
We are strolling around the home now marvelling at how many kids are without a home, without parents to care for them, trusting and depending on strangers for their daily bread, when we come to a stop at this tiny crib holding a tiny baby wrapped in swaddling cloth. He is lying there oblivious of the happenings around him. I feel the urge to trace my fingers down his cheek, his face breaks out into the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen and he reaches up and clutches my finger in his tiny hands, something tugs at my heart. I look up at my husband and the look on his face mirrors mine. And the process began for the new addition to our family.
Time is passing by, Gbenro is growing into a fine young lad. The laughter and lightness is returning to my home. I am happy, my husband is happy and my little boy is thriving. We are all sitting in the living room talking and laughing as Gbenro tries his best to mimic one of the characters in the Barney show he likes watching when Dami says “Babe, you’ve got to cut down on all the chocolates, seems you putting on some weight.” I give him a smile. He looks at me for a moment as the meaning of that smile sinks in. His face breaks into a huge grin, he comes over and encases me in a tight hug, as his hands rests lightly on my belly, we both silently pray that this time, he or she would live.
Note: The poem “Norms” written by SPX
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