This is a series about my pregnancy and the birth of my child. It is my testimony. Listen and be blessed 😀 (I tried. I wanted to be serious. I failed.)
I used to think it was a Nigerian thing to hide your pregnancy…until I heard Kim of Kardashian fame, say on TV that she was waiting for the “safe period” to announce her pregnancy. I realised it is mostly because the chances of having a miscarriage have dropped significantly at this point, so it is now safe to announce.
In Nigeria, you are expected to hide the pregnancy…perhaps even till after the baby’s birth. Lest the nearest native doctor use you and your baby for target practice. Whatever the reason, I knew my being pregnant was supposed to be a secret but I have never been one for secrets..I mean, I can keep other people’s secrets, but most certainly not mine.
So this was how at a week shy of two months pregnant, I found myself in a deep conversation with the even deeper Enoh. She too, was just under three months pregnant and I guess deep called to deep. Somehow, I knew she was pregnant and she knew I too was pregnant and we began to talk.
“There is ALWAYS a battle for the first born…”,
She said this and then laughed in this mysterious way Enoh always laughs. Like she is seeing angels and having a side conversation with them. (You know them right? All those people that are so spiritual, they can just scan you and tell what you ate for breakfast….like Akan and Sister Ayo.)
The battle Enoh spoke of is spiritual, not physical and she highlighted that many first pregnancies were lost before the children we could see running around us here were born. She punctuated these last words with a sweeping gesture in the direction of the children playing all around us in the Church auditorium while they waited for their worker parents to finish up at meetings and other Church duties.
Even now, I still remember the impact those words had on me. It was my call to arms to fight for my ‘Tiny’. I didn’t know how hard I was going to end up fighting, but I knew the day of adversity would come and it was up to me to start praying right then.
That sunday, when I got home, I went online and downloaded two things: a prayer for the consecration of communion emblems (the bread and the wine) and a meal plan for pregnant mums ( I was NOT going to eat my bodyweight in food. I did not want my journey back to be long).
Stay with me class, we are going somewhere…
So, I bought myself some unleavened bread and grape juice and would consecrate it everyday with the words I found online. Then when my baby app would tell me what part of my daughter’s anatomy was developing, that would be the focal point of my own personal prayers. For example, when her heart and blood vessels were forming, I would pray:
Holy God, creator of the heavens and the earth, keeper of my life, guardian of my heart. Protector, deliverer, healer, lifter of my head. As this child grows within me, I speak to her Body. I speak to her heart, every artery, every vein, every blood vessel. I decree that there will be no deformity. There will be no congenital defects. There will be no abscess, no harm, no disease. She will live in health and in peace. She will live long to declare your goodness in the land of the living. She will see her children grow up and her grandchildren to her fourth generation. God preserve her from my womb and through her life. I speak strength and uninterrupted health into her heart. It will perform all of it’s functions without halting and without stalling in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Having dealt with the physical, I will then move one step further.
Mighty God, Abba Father, Omniscient, all seeing one. Our shield and our defender, You alone hold the hearts of men and of kings in your hand. You steer them whichever way you please. My father and my king, I bring, this day the heart of this child before you. I ask that you steer her onto you. Let your word find fertile ground in her heart. Let her seek you first and nobody else. In all that she does and feels, let your name be glorified. Be enthroned in this heart oh Lord. Do not let her heart take her where your will has not directed her. Protect this heart from harm from hurt, protect it from lies. Shield her oh Lord on every side. Let every beat of her heart ring out in praise unto you my God. She will worship you in spirit and in truth, she will store your words in her heart. Finally my Lord, let the words that proceed out of her mouth and the meditations of her heart be acceptable to you and cause her to be holy as you, oh Lord are holy.
Once I prayed this prayer, I would break bread and I would drink my ‘wine’ and give thanks to God for the victory I had received.
This was my general process at the start of each day.
So, as time went along now, I had to start maternity visits to the hospital. Hm! In fact ehn! Should I do it? Should I expose all these Lagos hospitals and how they did me?
Okay, since you have insisted…
So I knew I was pregnant, like five minutes in. And I was EXCITED. So I called Iwiyisi and told her first (naturally!) I mean, first after Sure and she immediately started to recommend hospitals for pre natal visits. The nearest hospital to me was ‘George’s Hospital’, in Lekki phase 1. Iwiyisi said she remembered going there with Kara’s pregnancy and she can’t remember why she stopped but she believes I should go there and its a good hospital.
So, off I skipped. I drove over and parked about a minutes walk from the front door. I was positively tiptoeing with joy as I pushed the stubborn front door open. There was a lady sitting at the front desk, typing furiously on a keyboard that had clearly offended her.
I said to her, grinning from ear to ear.
Hmmm…surely, she did not hear me. So I greeted her again, this time with an even wider smile and with some base in my voice. Tap…tap…tap….tap-tap…
“Can I help you?”
She said as she continued to look at her screen. I was about to answer but I was startled by her as she suddenly lifted her hand to slam the top of her head twice (got to get that pesky itch now don’t we) and finally proceeded to reach for a pen to scratch her scalp properly through her weave.
At this point, I was ready to just turn around and leave but my Sure had been encouraging me to be more patient and all those other virtues. So I said to her that I would like to see a doctor. She responded to this by reeling off the price of registration and a few other things that I didn’t hear.
As I reached into my bag and got the money to pay her, I could feel my new-pregnancy-glow slowly giving way to my old-teach-this-lady-her-work-sheen. But I held my tongue. Suddenly, I started to see the dirt in the corners and the peeling walls so much clearer. I mean, if they can’t paint their reception, how can I expect that they wash their bedpans? And stuff.
After receiving my payment, she directed me to sit and wait to see the GP. Some other lady then called me in to a side office and took my vitals. She was a nosy one *sideeye* (I don’t know whether she was nosy or I was just a little irritable by now or both). Once vitals were done, it was time for me to go in and see the doctor.
I have never! I can’t remember his name but he had no inflection to his voice, no expression to his face, I am not even sure he was there. He told me that I didn’t need to come in to see a doctor yet as he couldn’t do anything for me. He said that whatever I could tell from a home kit is the same thing that will show up in his own tests as well, so I shouldn’t have bothered to come at all but since I am here, he will just test me.
He did some scanning and then said to me that he can’t see any baby. That if I am, in fact pregnant,(I know right!?! Who says that? Like I will lie that I am pregnant! To a Doctor!!!) I can come back when I am four months along, but right now, he does not know whether I am pregnant.
Ha! I just….sigh.
Anyway. I got up to leave and then when I reached the door he said to me that he has a facebook page and that I should go and like it and tell people about my experience with him. I didn’t say anything in response because if I shout now, they will say I am shouting.
I just walked out of the office and back to my car. As I got to my door. I heard someone running up behind me, yelling,
I turned around to see the distracted receptionist hurrying towards me and waving some sheet of paper in the air. So, I stopped, thinking I had left something behind but I couldn’t imagine why it had suddenly caused this level of animation.
When she got me, she gave me the sheet of paper.
Can you JUST imagine!?! It was an additional bill! That doctor that had said, he will just do a test that he knows I don’t need….that test wasn’t just a part of the consultation, like checking your pulse or the length of your fingernails, It was an actual thing that required additional payment. He did not tell me that but he could tell me to go and like his facebook page!?!
As I left, I called Iwiyisi, seething and barely coherent. I managed to choke out my story, punctuated by mini outbursts about the sun and Lagosians driving stupidly (I also blamed the hospital staff for this.) at the end of my narration, Iwiyisi was silent, prompting me to say a “hello?” , you know just to be sure Glo had not cut me off mid-rant (I will never understand these networks that think that just because one’s credit has finished they can just cut you off in the middle of your call. So uncivilised! We are not barbarians here!)
Iwiyisi: “No, I am here”
Me: “Did you not just hear everything I said?”
Iwiyisi: “Yeah…no. I heard you…it’s just…I now remember why I didn’t go back”
Sigh. Apparently, Iwiyisi too had been treated very badly there and never returned but she had completely forgotten her experience. So completely, in fact, that she heartily recommended them to me. Sigh again and again.
Anyway, I moved to Rhoding Hospital to complete my prenatal care. Rhoding in summary:
Fourth month: First time there. Registered. Told there’s only a temp available to see me. Met lovely temp Doctor. Thoroughly likeable if a bit chatty.
Fifth month: Told by reception, temp Doctor has now been hired as permanent staff. So he is my personal Doctor now. I see him. Still like him. Quickly discover that he is as proficient at scanning my tummy as I am. Find other Doctor to help pleasant Dr to use scanner. Other Doctor not very proficient either. Manage to find baby in tummy. All is well.
Sixth month: Temp Doctor that became permanent has now been fired. Have no Doctor. Also no Doctor in entire hospital. Have to drive around looking for diagnostic centre to scan for baby. Find centre, scan. All is well.
Seventh month: Pleasant Doctor remains fired. Given new Doctor. Sees me and gives me one due date at start of appointment but changes due date on way out. #confused
End of Seventh month: Go back to get documents to fly out.
It is time to go…To be continued…
Choker: Nasty gal
Pearl necklace: Zara
Long necklaces: Asos
Zara bottoms: Sure
Converse sneakers: Sure
Blouse: Marks and Spencer
Skirt: Janie and Jack
Converse Sneakers: Daddy Sure