“…… So in these circumstances, a Cs would be our best option.. .”
“God forbid!” Ogechi rebuked, hastily circling a finger over her head.
“Madam, your baby is breeched,” the patient doctor tried to make her understand . “your due date is just a week away, you need to start preparing your mind for that possibility…”
But Ogechi was not convinced, in fact, she was enraged. No woman in her family ever had a baby through caesarean section, not even the wives her brothers married, and they were young girls, so she was not going to be the first and definitely never the last.
“Madam,” the doctor continued “there is nothing wrong with a Cs, sometimes it is the only option. Just go home, discuss it with your husband and both of you should keep your options open”
Ogechi pulled her lips downwards disapprovingly, grasping her purse. “Thank you doctor” she muttered, standing weakly to her feet.
The doctor nodded. He watched her hobble towards the door before returning his gaze to his table.
As soon as Ogechi got home that day, she pulled out her bible and sunk to her knees, she lifted her voice in prayer, tears streaming down her worried face as she called unto the heavens in a high and persistent voice, determined to be heard by the miracle working God.
A caesarean section was not an option, not for her it wasn’t. It couldn’t be.
As she knelt there, praying her heart out, her husband walked into the room. Baffled, he stopped in his tracks.
His wife’s knees were planted to the floor, the king James bible firmly gripped in her hand, shoving back and forth in the air as she sputtered words of prayer, her eyes clenched close.
He stood by the doorway, a confused frown creasing his forehead. “Oge!”
She was too engrossed to hear him.
“Oge!!” he repeated, louder this time.
Her voice trailed off as she opened her eyes and saw him standing there.
“What’s going on” he was concerned, moving towards her. He dropped his briefcase to the foot of the bed before lowering himself unto the mattress.
“Welcome” Ogechi greeted, scrambling to her feet to sit beside him.
“I’ve never seen you this way”
She hummed in acknowledgment. “I went for my check-up today and the doctor said there would be a possible Cs..”
He scoffed hissing, he was relieved. “Is that why you are kabashing here since?”
She turned her head to gape at her amused husband.
“There is nothing wrong in having Cs na”
“Uche, its not funny. There is everything wrong . That thing is not natural besides, people would talk, your mother would talk! They would say im not woman enough, I wont even feel woman enough..”
“Oh come on Oge! It dosent matter how you have a baby, the most important thing is that you and baby are okay…”
She looked away from her husband, he didn’t understand, how could he? He wasn’t the one people would murmur about.
“Don’t just let it bother you okay?” He consoled, rubbing his hand over her back. “It’s nothing hmn?”
As Ogechi watched him out of the corner of her eye, stand to his feet and begin to loosen the knot of his tie, she thought vehemently of what to do to avert her predicament. She had prayed, but she knew more than anyone, that faith without works was dead.
The next morning, she stood on the front pouch, waving her husband goodbye as he reversed out of the compound to go to work. As soon as the security guard closed the gate after him, Ogechi withdrew back into the house, she picked up her cellphone, sat in the couch and dialed her aunty Amaka, her favorite aunty.
She relayed all that the doctor had said to her.
“Ah, God forbid o!” went the unpleased aunt.
“Exactly what I said o aunty”
“God will not allow you have a baby through Cs, just the way I gave birth to four of my children naturally..” she could hear her slapping her stomach at the other end. “…so shall it be for you”
“Amennn!!!!” Ogechi resounded.
“But, what did your husband say?”
“Hmn aunty, he is not even bothered, he said that he is fine with whatever happens but me I’m not”
“Don’t mind him, he is only saying that to console you. See, there is no man that does not want his wife to deliver naturally, people will talk na! even his friends will whisper about it”
“Aunty what will I do?” her voice was filled with worry. “ I don’t want people to say that I am not a real woman, me I know that what makes every woman a mother is experiencing that pain of labor and childbirth, and I want to experience it too”
“Yes na! but don’t worry, I know what we will do. When is your due date?”
“In six day’s time”
“That’s close o. Are you free now? Can you come to the shop right now?”
“Yes I can, aunty where will we go?”
“There is this Ijaw woman that massages womb, here in Benin, it helps women who cannot deliver, those whose baby is not sitting well and even helps to stop pain after delivery”
“Will it work?” her hopes were piqued.
“Ah yes o! it will work. She has done it for many women na, it works! Just come, I want to go out before 2pm so you better hurry”
“Okay, I’m coming.” Ogechi said, scrambling out of the sofa.
She moved as fast as her pregnant body could carry her, got dressed and left the house to her aunty’s.
Aunty Amaka was standing outside her store, conversing with a customer when Ogechi pulled up beside them. She hurriedly bade the customer goodbye, walked towards and climbed cheerily into Ogechi’s car.
“Nwaoma Ma” Ogechi greeted.
“Ehh, Uwaoma bu eze ” Aunty Amaka responded, tugging at the seat belt. She safely pulled it over her body. “Turn right” she directed. “I’ve called her, she is expecting us”
“Aunty I hope this thing will work o?” Ogechi asked, steering down the tiled road. She needed to be reassured.
“I’ve told you na, Is it not something that she has being doing for people? stop worrying, It will work!”
“Hmn because me I am afraid, they will come and tear my stomach now, that means other children too I will have them through Cs, then the time to recover is there o, this is my first child, even if it were the last sef, I don’t want”
“By that mango tree?”
“Ehn, yes, Just keep going straight. My dear, don’t worry ehn? She will do it for you”
Ten minutes after, they arrived at an old house. A nervous looking Ogechi stood besides a confident aunty Amaka as she knocked on the old fashioned door. An elderly woman answered the door, smiling kindly at them.
“Mama good morning” greeted aunty Amaka.
“Good morning Ma” seconded Ogechi
“Morning, morning!” She answered pleasantly.
“This is my niece, the one I told you about”
“Eiya, you are welcome my daughter, make una come inside” she said and begun to lead the way.
Both women followed her to a small room at the end of her house. Ogechi was directed to lie on the wooden bed with old sheets, the table besides the bed carried Goya oil and other essential oils and herbs that were strange to her. Ogechi glanced between the elderly woman and her aunty nervously.
“Don’t worry,” aunty Amaka said from her chair.
The elderly woman was smiling confidently. She must have done this a lot of times, Ogechi thought to herself as the woman poured some oil unto her palm and began to massage Ogechi’s waist.
“Will this work?” she asked, facing the wall.
“Ei go help your pikin siddon well so that you go fit born am”
That was all Ogechi needed to hear. She closed her eyes and relaxed into the elderly woman’s hands.
A sharp pain jolted Ogechi out of her sleep. She put her hand to her waist and laid still. Minutes ticked past, the pain hit again. She tapped her husband’s arm repeatedly, “Uche, uche, I think it’s time!”
“Are you sure?” her husband asked sleepily.
“Get up!” she hit him as she felt the plung again.
Her husband suddenly realizing the severity of the situation jumped out of bed
“My shoes, get my shoes!” she cried, her hand planted firmly to her waist.
Uche got her shoes, grabbed a shirt and hastily wore it over himself, pulled some trousers on before grabbing his wife’s hospital bag that she had packed three weeks ago
“Hurry!!” she cried.
He threw her arm over his shoulder and they trudged out of the house and into the car.
A moaning Ogechi panted as Uche drove as fast yet carefully as he could. She grumbled about the distance even though it was only fifteen minutes away, her pain made it feel like the journey was taking forever.
They finally pulled up in front of the hospital. Uche got down and rushed to his wife’s side of the car, carefully pulled her out and hobbled to the closed hospital door. The time was 1.am, they had to knock before the nurses opened the door. They took over a distraught Ogechi from Uche and guided her to the labour room.
“Madam, this baby was breeched in the last scan we did” one of the nurses remarked as the other nurse prepared her body for labour.
“No no no, my waist was massaged, I can push, I don’t want operation”
The nurses exchanged knowing glances, it wasn’t the first time a wife would be rejecting a Cs even on the labour bed.
“Wait, Let me check” one of the two nurses said. She moved to the machine and begun to conduct an examination on Ogechi’s stomach.
“See?” she pointed at the monitor, “this baby is breeched, madam Cs is the only option”
“What?!” a disappointed Ogechi muttered, she had been almost sure that the massage would do it.
“These massages are not 100 percent” the second nurse said. “they fail sometimes”
Ogechi dropped her head to the bed, jerking up almost immediately as another contraction hit her waist. “Ahhh!” she cried
“Call the doctor, we need to rush her to the theatre…”
“No!!” Ogechi refused, “I would push, I want to push”
“I will push!!!!” She was vehement.
One of the nurses got into position lowering herself in between Ogechi’s spread thighs
Ogechi heaved a push before dropping her back to the bed, panting.
The contraction hit her again and she pushed, and pushed.
What had started out in seconds soon rolled down to minutes and then, hours.
The contractions that had been only minutes apart suddenly stopped. The nurses at this point insisted that they roll her to the theatre but Ogechi wouldn’t hear of it, even when her husband briefly stepped in to try to change her mind at the request of one of the nurses, Ogechi wouldn’t bulge, She was going to do everything in her power to make sure she had a vagina birth.
It was what every strong woman would do.
And so she pushed every time the contractions hit her, they were now coming at twenty minutes interval and she was exhausted.
Exhausted but determined.
When morning came, the doctor came in insisting on a cs but Ogechi was ready to throw a fit not to get into that theatre.
In the evening of that day, after 20 hours of excruciating labor, she delivered her baby girl.
The baby was immediately whisked to the Intensive care unit while Ogechi was wheeled back to the ward. Her husband was happy to see her, he hugged and kissed a very weak Ogechi. They waited to hold their baby, but the nurses did not bring the little girl to them.
“Nurse” Uche called out as one of the nurses came by the ward. “Where is our child?”
“I’m sorry sir, she is in the ICU”
“Why? for what? ” he was shocked, confused.
“Sir, the doctor will see you soon. I’m sorry” the nurse apologized before leaving the ward.
Uche wondered what she was apologizing for, he could not be calm. He looked over at his wife, who had fallen asleep and went in search of the Doctor himself. The doctor was performing ward rounds so he had to wait for his turn.
He returned to his wife’s ward and waited, impatiently pacing the floor of the small sized private ward, worried out of his mind.
He ignored every call coming to his phone from family members, what will he tell them? He was yet to understand what was happening himself.
At last, the middle aged doctor entered into their private ward, accompanied by two nurses.
“Oh thank God!!” he heaved in relief.
“Good morning” the doctor greeted a disturbed Uche.
“Good morning” Uche responded, stepping aside to give access to the doctor and his team as they marched to his wife’s bedside.
He tried to exercise a patience he didn’t particularly have as the doctor checked on his sleeping wife.
The middle aged doctor recited some words to the nurse and she jotted them down in Ogechi’s file.
“What’s going on with our child?” Uche asked, sensing that the doctor was finished with the check up on his wife.
“Please follow me to my office Sir” the doctor said to him and turned back around to walk out of the ward.
Uche glanced at his wife, she was still asleep, satisfied that she was okay, he followed the doctor and his team in close pursuit.
“Please sit” the doctor offered as Uche closed the door to his office after himself.
“What’s going on?” he asked, lowering himself unto the chair. Too much time had passed, he couldn’t afford to waste another minute.
“The baby is in the ICU, the labour was prolonged and that caused the baby to have low muscle tone, low reflexes and a low heart rate so we need to monitor her for a while but I must tell you, it’s not looking good”
A distant humming sound filled Uche’s shocked ears. “I don’t understand, will the baby die?” he managed to mutter.
“I don’t think so, but we are looking at cerebral palsy here, one of her arms is already deformed. You see, the baby was breeched, we tried to get your wife to the theatre, I even told her of this possibility a week before now but she wouldn’t bulge. So even though we eventually got the breeched baby out, too much time had been wasted. I’m so sorry sir, she wanted to have a vaginal birth at all cost”
Uche gaped at the Doctor, his mind reeling. Part of him felt anger towards his wife, a lot of anger, the other part felt anger at himself for not been able to convince her, and the rest of the anger went towards the hospital for not disregarding his stubborn wife’s wishes..
“It was what she wanted, I’m sorry”
He swallowed hard, his nails unconsciously digging into the palms of his hands.
He was angry.
His mind was cluttered.
“Can I see her?” he asked.
“Sure,” the doctor answered, rising to his feet “I’ll take you myself”.
And off they went, to the part of the hospital, no parent wished their baby to be held in.
WRITTEN BY OGBUGOH JOY