|Fresh from the womb
There were three of us in the rustic labour room. The bed at one end of the room was occupied by a lady whose own meaning of labour seemed to have changed to leisure. Though she carried an exceptional protruding tummy that looked like her baby was going to drop out any second, she was not producing the typical cacophonous sounds expectant women produce when they are on the verge of delivery. She tightly covered herself with a blanket and slept for long hours, only waking up to take bathroom breaks.
Then the plump and fair lady who occupied the bed next to her was our drama queen. After pacing through the corridors in tears, she finally lay on her bed. She uttered all sorts of gibberish and at some point, I had to consciously prevent myself from bursting into laughter. The midwife was not being nice to her either. She yelled, “Why you di make so like say u never born before. Nobi na ya second pikin dis? Abeg respect yaself.” (Why are you acting like a first time mom? This is your second child. Be modest.)
My labour buddy, who felt like her destiny rested in the hands of the woman in uniform pleaded, “Abeg sista jus take me so ya. I don over suffer for dis life…” (Please, Sister bear with me. I have suffered a lot in this life.)
The tempo of her screams increased and soon the midwife announced that the baby’s head was visible. I had always wanted to experience a woman give birth but no, not on the day I was going to have a baby myself. I’m sure I was trembling at this point. She urged my expectant companion to cooperate and push aptly so she doesn’t jeopardise the delivery. In a few seconds, right before me, her beautiful baby boy greeted the world. I expected to hear the phenomenal baby cry that announces a new arrival to the world but my little friend disappointed me. He just gave a “nye” and that was it. Looks like his mother had done most of the crying for him.
The new mother became my official adviser. She told me, “Just di waka ya.” (Keep moving about). Her advice was aimed at helping me have an easier delivery. So I paced about with no visible signs of pain. My mother kept asking if I was in pain, my response was indifferent. She was shocked. She thought she was about to experience a painless childbirth miracle. She told me she thought she was going to die while birthing me but she was surprised at how I could be so calm in labour.
We had taken a trip to the hospital because my waters broke while I was preparing a delicious pot of Egusi soup for my dad. I was chatting online with Mr. N and cooking at the same time. Talk about multitasking! I kept moving from computer to pot. On one of such trips, I felt a gush of warm water running down my feet to the floor. It partially soaked my kabba (big gown). I had read too much about labour so I knew I had to get to the hospital once my waters broke even if I felt no pain. I rushed to my parents who were seated in the living room and informed them of the development. That was how my father dropped me off at 10:00 pm at the hospital, where I was admitted.
At 2:00 am, the midwife called me and administered a warm enema to me. I rushed off to the loo to empty my bowels. That was when my trouble started. I began to experience depths of pain I could not fathom. I became a semi-mad woman. I was screaming and gesticulating in ridiculous ways. My Mom gave me a look that said, “Now I know you are ready to have a baby.” At a point I began reaching for the bed that was close to me and pulling it towards me. Ask me why I did that. I don’t know. You see why I say I was semi-mad? I was doing anything to relieve the pain but the torture kept increasing geometrically.
My midwife was nonchalant like she had seen too many kinds of labour to be thrilled by mine. She kept telling me to push if I felt like pushing then she will go to another ward. I lost faith in her, how could I be told to keep pushing with no one in sight? What if the baby came out and there was no one to welcome the new life. I cried out for my Mom to come.(She wasn’t allowed to be permanently in the labour room.) When she came, I insisted that she stays by my side.
My malicious midwife came and looked at the area between my legs. With a tone that spewed sarcasm, she said, “You neva just do nothing ya.” (You haven’t accomplished anything.) I was demoralised and felt like my hope of a smooth delivery flew out of the window.
I kept following her misguiding rule to just push. With the constant pushing, something came out but not the baby! It is the thing that you go to release in a closed room when no one is watching. It came out, right there, on the hospital bed, thankfully in a hospital bowl. Madam midwife quickly put it away. I was too engulfed in pain to be embarrassed. After all, I had heard many women release that thing on their delivery bed too so I wasn’t the pioneer of such releases.
After five hours of a gruesome labour and a monster-midwife, a new set of nurses assumed duty at 7:00 am. There was just something about them that made me relaxed and determined. One of them looked at me and said, “You have done a great job. Now let’s focus on getting this baby out.” By this time, the level of pain I was going through was paralysing.
I went to hell and back. I used to think that after experiencing severe menstrual cramps, I will be used to labour pains. Well, I was wrong. The birth pangs were unique, so intense, excruciating and completely out of this world. I felt like I was in a dungeon, tormented by demons with no hope for survival. The worst part was when the baby’s head was about to pop out. Oh my God! It was like I was being ripped apart. Even though words are my buddies, I lack those to use in adequately describing labour pain.
Once the baby’s head popped out, I felt like the off button for the anguish was hit. The terrorising pain ended at 7:05 a:m on that Tuesday morning when my perfect baby girl met the world. Instead of my screams of sorrow, what filled the air was the crying of the teeny tiny human being I had just brought into the world. My heart was filled with joy which I again lack words to express. However, one thing I told myself was, “thank God I have at least brought one child into the world.” I promised myself to never walk down that road. Ever!
I thought delivery was not my talent. How come some women do this over and over again? So while basking in the euphoria of having birthed a new baby, the nurses/midwives came with some medical apparatus to sew my hoo ha. I couldn’t believe that. Sew what? I had a perineal tear during delivery thanks to my reckless midwife and her push anyhow admonishings. So the cha cha needed to be bound. I waited impatiently as stitch after stitch was placed on me.
Then they started pressing on my uterus to bring out blood which was just so annoying. They kept punching on my tummy as though they were going to resuscitate an unconscious person. I screamed, “More pain again?!” That caused the nurse to take it gently on me.
From the labour room, I was moved to the labour ward where I met the other Mami Pikins (new mothers) chilling. I sighted my drama queen labour companion devouring a large bowl of chicken pepper soup. She didn’t look like the same person who said she had suffered too much in life. I settled into my bed and visitors started pouring in to see my new baby.
|Few minutes after delivery
The post-partum experience totally deserves another post. So have you tasted or witnessed child birth before? How e be dey? Go and type something down there!
*The italicised portions are in Cameroonian Pidgin English
*Kabba is a big Ankara (African fabric) dress widely worn by pregnant women in Cameroon
*I brought this post forward from August 20, 2015 because the story just never gets old.