“Madam push!!” The short dark nurse urged me, firmly holding my left leg apart, the second nurse had her head at the feet of the delivery bed, peering down in between my thighs. I could feel her pushing her gloved fingers in my vulva, making circular movements.
“Your pikin head dey there,” she remarked, “madam try push” her approach was calmer than that of the short nurse standing over me.
I winced, pushing for what would seem like the umpteenth time, but the baby didn’t come out. I dropped my head back to the bed, panting. I was exhausted.
“Madam! You wan make your pikin die?” The short nurse was saying, “see the head there na, madam raise your body, no dey lie down, push this thing na!” She let go of my leg and began to pinch round my abdomen.
“Yei! Yei!! Yei!!!!” I cried. “I will push, I will push” I promised desperately. I don’t know which hurt more, having her pinch my stomach like that, or the contractions I had been suffering all night.
“Oya push na!” The short nurse pressured.
Bracing myself, I gritted my teeth and groaned, pushing with all of my might.
“You no dey push anything o” the short nurse condemned and I fell back, giving up. That was my best shot.
“Keep your legs open” the second nurse said, pushing my legs further apart, and I wondered why they didn’t have those leg sections Americans had on their delivery beds.
She made circular movements around the head, I could feel it crowning at the entrance of my vulva, but I was tired. I turned my sweaty face to glance over at the wall clock, the time read 7.am, I had been in the labor room for the past four hours.
“Madam!” The short nurse progressively tapped my arm, impatiently, “If this pikin die, I no go let you go o”. Of course I didn’t want my baby to die, but I was too tired to push any further. “You get luck sef, people wey go come here dey from morning till night nko?” It was rhetorical, I knew that, but I wouldn’t have given her a response even if it were a question.
“Push!” The second nurse demanded.
“I can’t” I breathed tiredly, shaking my head. “I don’t feel the urge, I just can’t” I felt a warm tear run quickly down my cheek and in that moment, I wished my mum were alive and there by my side.
Seeing that the contractions were no longer progressive, the second nurse emerged from my thighs and began to make her way towards the door.
“Where is she going” I asked frantically, I didn’t want to be left alone, not in this scary looking room with all those sharp surgical instruments sitting in the stainless steel basin, and definitely not with this mean nurse.
Ignoring my question as expected, she moved to the feet of the bed where the second nurse had been bending over. She peered down into me and hissed loudly. “See pikin head, to push dey hard you, if na to do the thing now, ei go dey sweet you”
I didn’t allow her words register in my mind, I was too tired, scared and in pain to take her sarcastic words to heart.
“Please, can you call my husband in?” My voice was pleading and the tears won’t stop flowing.
“Which husband?” She sneered. “Man no dey fit see this kain thing o, abi you no wan make him touch you again? Leave am for where him dey, him dey ward dey pray for you.”
She was probably right on that one. I tried to channel my mind to a happy place, a moment where I was just having fun with my husband, or friends, but I couldn’t. I was in pain, I was afraid and I was fagged out.
I still wasn’t contracting, they had just stopped. As much as I knew I needed those contractions to push, I dreaded them, they stung too damn much! I liked this rest, but I knew it would only be for a while before they came torturing me again – the contractions.
The second nurse pushed the door open and hurriedly walked in carrying another stainless bowl. My eyes followed her as she set it down on the table that held the other equipment. She picked up a packaged syringe from the stainless bowl, tore it open, picked up the vial filled with medicine and held it upside down in her left palm. She inserted the needle into the rubber seal, drawing up the medication into the syringe.
It was all happening very fast. The first nurse stepped aside, giving way to the second nurse to take brisk steps to my side.
“What is that?!” I was scared, I already had a drip connected to my vein, I didn’t want to feel any more needles.
“Pitocin” she said, then held up the syringe.
“For what?!” I needed to know.
“To help further your contractions, which would help you push”
“Oh!” I muttered understandably.
She gently tapped the syringe, handed it over to the first nurse to hold for her, then closed the IV clamp to stop the fluid. She cleaned the medication port, received the syringe from the first nurse, uncapped it and inserted it into the port of the IV bag, injecting in the drug. She opened the clamp and readjusted the flow rate.
It didn’t hurt, yet, but my legs did from being spread apart all the while. The short nurse had been holding it apart every chance she got. How I disliked her!
“You’ll start to feel it in a moment” the second nurse said, walking back around to the feet of the bed.
“Oya!” She said, pushing my legs apart. “When ei hol’ you, just push”
The short nurse came back to pinching round my stomach.
This woman must be a devil from hell!
“Please stop” I cried, tossing my head from side to side, ready for it to be over already.
A sharp pain stung my waist, I gasped!. More sharp pains immediately followed, causing me to shriek in pain, it felt like a million extremely sharp needles being punctured into my waist, all at the same time.
“No close your legs o” the short nurse slapped my thigh to keep it apart. I didn’t care about upsetting her, I just wanted the pains to stop. My waist was on fire, I had a cannula connected to my vein, nurses pushing and expecting my legs to stay apart, I couldn’t do much of anything to help the sting in my waist other than wince. The throbbing pain traveled all the way down my abdomen.
“Jesus!, Jesus!! Blood of Jesus!!!” I resounded, unable to keep calm.
I felt an urge to push, it was such a powerful urge, like an unspoken command that I had to obey, but at the same time, it felt like a bowel movement, I felt a heavy pressure in my rectum, I needed to go to the toilet, and I needed to go now!
“Nurse I wan shit” I called amidst my sweat and pain. “Nurs…se!!”
“Madam push, no be shit, na pikin!” The short nurse commanded, holding onto my thigh and glancing down below at the other nurse who was religiously making circular moments in my vulva around the baby’s head
“Madam I go shit oo!” I warned in pain.
“No dey hold that thing o, release your belle” she said and began to pinch round my stomach again.
“Ahhhh!” I cried. “I don die!!”
“You no go die, just push!!”
I panted, trying to catch quick breaths. The contractions hit me again and with all of my might, I pushed, hard.
“Ei dey come, see head! Push again”
I breathed in, locked my lips tightly together, and with shut eyes, I pushed arduously, my face squeezing to match my efforts.
“Jesus Christ!” I released, gasping.
“You dey do well, you dey do well.” The short nurse surprisingly encouraged. “Your pikin head don comot finish, just push once now, ndo!” Yet she was still pinching at my stomach.
This was the most painful experience of my life!
The contraction hit again, gathering what was left of my energy, with a deep groan, I pushed out and I pushed out hard, my upper body rising forward and staying so.
I felt the baby’s head pop out of my body, then the rest of its body swam out easily.
“Ah! Ei don comot” the short nurse rejoiced, the baby began to cry, it sounded upset.
I collapsed my back into the bed, breathing heavily with my mouth open. I was thirsty, my mouth felt parched like I had been walking in the desert for days.
The second nurse held the naked baby over my still raised thighs. “See your pikin” she said smiling, sweating too.
I turned my head to look at the small naked crying being, with cheese-like white substances coating its skin. My heart lept for joy. In that moment, I felt no pain, just relief and indescribable joy.
I was a mum!
“Na which one ei be” the nurse asked. They needed me to confirm before they whisked the baby away to clean and dress it. My eyes went to her abdomen, her pink little labia staring back at me.
With joyful tears filling up the corners of my eyes, I laughed and said, “It’s a girl!”
WRITTEN BY OGBUGOH TERUNDU JOY.