If you see the food I am eating right now ehn! Off-your-cloth-delicacy.
You know, the type you see outside and you tell them to pack it as take away for you because you can’t eat it in front of people that respect you. You must go home and naked yourself first and then eat the food where there is cool breeze.
This food is not even that nice self. I think I was just hungry.
Aaaaaaaaanway! Hey my good people *insert wave*.
For the one billionth time…I am back. But this time I am really back. Not like all the other times.
So I really want to share this story of what happened to me and my baby with you but I keep starting and stopping and then starting again. I just pray to God to give me even just a fraction of the consistency of the Nigerian-animal-eating-money-stories (we are now at one a week, not so?)
October 31st, 2015
It is a good day. The good sister Iwiyisi has arrived to do Omugwo for me and I can’t think of a single problem in the world.
Today, my client and dear friend, (I think I snatched her from Iwiyisi) Ore, is coming to fit her reception dress that we made for her in Nigeria and brought over to the States for her fitting. Everything is ready for her. The dress is laid out and my tools are in place for our session.
So, I get up early to make myself presentable. I have to be careful not to bother Iwiyisi’s sleep as she has been up at night watching my baby. YB wakes up and I bathe her, dress her up and then sit down on the edge of my bed to feed her.
As I am feeding her, her father calls us. At this point, Iwiyisi has woken up and is standing behind me, on the other side of the bed, in front of the bathroom door. She watches my little family interacting in the best way available to us with a wry smile and her head is tilted to the left (this is how she stands when she is happy, wistful or about to remind someone of an emotional time in our history). At some point she takes pictures, I don’t even notice that she has immortalised this vital moment.
Only this morning, I have finally put up a picture taken by Iwiyisi on Facebook. Its a picture of my three and a half week old and I. I feel like the worst is over, I can show her off now.
So, Sure and I are talking and then he says he wants to watch YB feed, so we switch to FaceTime and I set the phone in such a way that he can watch us. He sits there quietly. It is night where he is and he will soon be off to bed.
I look down at YB, eating peacefully, completely unaware of all the eyes watching over her. She gulps down the milk very loudly…I think that is normal. After all, my beloved nephew ate in just the same way as a baby. Like he was in a hurry. So I think nothing of how she gulps…loudly and quickly.
There is this moment of utter calm as we all just stare at this itty bitty wonder.
And then she suddenly starts to cry. I immediately take the food away from her mouth.
She is crying weird and her father, who is still with us via facetime, asks me why she sounds funny. It is an odd, sort of stilted cry. So I stand up and start to walk around in an effort to calm her down but the weird cry just won’t stop. I keep pacing and trying to calm her down.
And then as I walk out of the room and towards the kitchen she stops crying because she has stopped breathing.
She immediately becomes like a doll in my arms. Her hands fall away to her sides and her head falls back. I run to grab the phone while telling her father that she has stopped breathing and then I cut the call off.
As I run back into the room, I call out to Iwiyisi who is in the bathroom and toss my phone at her, instructing her to call 9-1-1 and then I set my baby on the bed and begin to administer mouth-to-mouth.
At this point, her skin is grey and her lips are completely white.
Each time I breathe into her mouth, colour comes back to her face but she does not resume breathing on her own and then she goes back to grey while I pump her chest between breaths. Iwiyisi has called 9-1-1 and the lady on the phone tells her that I should stop with the mouth to mouth and I should tilt her head at a certain angle and then wait.
I do as I have been told and it takes EVERY SINGLE STRENGTH in me not to resume mouth to mouth. I feel like just kneeling here, holding her little head in one position can’t possibly be enough.
And then, after what feels like, at least, 3 weeks, some liquid starts to come out of her mouth and the colour returns to her face.
Once the 9-1-1 lady hears this, she tells my Iwiyisi to go and open our door and leave it ajar for the emergency responders that will soon be here.
I am looking at my child. Her head is nestled in my hand, it is so small… no bigger than my palm and I start to panic. I finally start to cry. Iwiyisi tells me not to and assures me that I have done very well and I need to maintain the calm and clear thinking that got us here.
The lady on the phone echoes these words. BUT IF I AM TO CALM DOWN, WHY ARE HER EYES STILL CLOSED ??????
Her breathing is consistent now and I can hear the sirens. Is that for us? It must be…my thoughts are all over the place. What is this? Hasn’t enough happened? The last three weeks have easily been the most difficult of my life and not because of this baby…she is easy…everything else has just been impossible. Now, this?
I immediately regret my facebook post. What if? What if she doesn’t make it? Now I will have to explain myself everywhere I go.
I am jarred out of my reverie.
The first responders are here. This man with a concerned scowl has come into the room and is taking my baby from me and asking me a bunch of questions.
He commends me on my astounding presence of mind and for following the exact process recommended in this sort of situation. He asks how I managed to do everything by the book. I tell him that I had to take an emergency response class to be able to bring my baby home from the Newborn intensive care unit, after she was born.
He takes her vitals as he is talking to me. We rush out of the bedroom and into the living room. There are people everywhere.
When he is done talking to me, he lowers his eyes to my daughter and points behind me. I turn around to see a police officer waiting with a notepad. He is a lot less warm, more stern than anything. He starts to ask questions and scribbles my answers in his notepad. He asks to see my passport and I quickly take it to him.
As his questions begin to get repetitive and a little hostile, the paramedic comes back to my aid and informs the officer that I responded excellently and he himself would not have done anything differently.
It is at this point that the officer eases off and gives me some encouragement, telling me I am doing my best and I should not be overwhelmed.
I turn around to look for Iwiyisi and in spite of the officer’s advice, I am very overwhelmed. There’s at least fifteen people in our little flat and just as someone moves, I catch a glimpse of her watching everything and everyone.
“Does her daddy know what’s happening now?”
A female paramedic is talking and waving her hand in front of me to get my attention. She wants something from me.
“Her dad, have you called him back?”, She says to me.
Oh dear!! I completely forgot! I have left Sure with no update. So I call him back on FaceTime and when he picks up, I can see that he has been praying. He looks behind me at all the activity in the flat and fear fills his eyes. The female paramedic takes the phone from me (I seem to have gone mute, it’s like an out of body experience) and she talks him through what is happening.
As she does this, I watch my tiny baby being strapped into her carseat and then strapped to a gurney, ten times her size. She’s like a spec on top of it. An oxygen mask has been placed on her face and a bunch of machines have been connected to her.
As soon as YB is securely fastened, they rush her and I out of the house. Iwiyisi assures me over all the noise that she will be coming to the hospital right behind us and I wave a teary goodbye.
As we walk out of our flat and on to the complex grounds, I am astounded by the size of the emergency response. I had thought the Police officer and paramedics in the flat were the only people that came, but now I see that there are about ten to twelve more police officers outside. Patrol cars are everywhere and the ambulance looms large ahead of me.
The policemen are standing in the doorway of every ground floor flat and they are blocking people from filming us or any child from running out in front of the still screaming ambulance.
It makes me almost dizzy to see all the people that are watching us, peeking from behind curtains, behind the officers, everywhere they can view us from, people are watching… their curiosity peaked by the size of the patient.
Everywhere is calm and so beautifully decorated for halloween. The cheer is in such sharp contrast with this scene of my life playing out. As I stand, stuck to one spot, looking around at everyone through blurry, tear-filled eyes, there is one thing that strikes me…the pity. Every single person there is looking at us with so much pity.
I am quickly moved back along by the first responders. Time is of the utmost importance, they need to get the baby hooked on to the proper machines required, so I am bundled into the back of the ambulance with my little fighter, the sirens are our battle cry. It is time for war.