Happy New Year in a bit guys. Closing the year with this incomplete short fiction story which I started writing sometime ago in the middle of the year after a friend of mine suffered a miscarriage and courageously spoke to me about it, and even adding to the torture, her horrible experience with medical personnel.
I didn’t want to leave it still sitting in my draft till next year because while I may be writing fiction, it is a necessary story to tell and I wanted to bring to the miscarriage story even though gloomy some sort of hope by not putting it off till the new year.
I hope you enjoy reading this first part. I hope the coming year doesn’t dash hopes, but if it does, I hope you remember that spring time always comes. Always.
Sending you light and love.
Grief is the indescribable thud that O felt in her chest that continued for four months, long after blood had stopped dripping between her legs. It was the very tight lump in her throat that eased briefly only when she wailed – uncontrollably in short but deeply sorrowful bouts, eating one whole can of onion flavoured pringles after the other, mindlessly, the crumbs spotting her t-shirt as she sat in bed, the bed she never left, never got up from even to use the bathroom.
Of what use was using the bathroom if she would only be reminded as she pulled down her pants of the incredible loss of her child. A child she had not known, but with whom she had been very familiar with, whose bright eyes she had imagined and visualised – her chubby fingers, and curly hair, the smoothness and evenness of her skin, like the yolk of an egg. She had named her shortly after she found out she was pregnant, one night in her second month. The name had come to her strongly in the middle of the night and it was her waking thought by morning. Comfort. Comfort Adebiyi. It had a nice ring to it. And though she was certain she would never call her Comfort, it being a female name further consolidated what she already knew, that she was definitely having a girl.
Within a heartbeat, she translated Comfort to Yoruba and called her Itunu. On the day she was able to hear the heart beat on the monitor, she went straight from the hospital to a baby store and compulsively bought two onesies and a blanket in shades of pink. The blanket had bright yellow trimmings sewn in at the edges and the onesies were cute, fitted with mittens and a matching warm hat. When she showed her husband Jide that evening, he had laughed and asked why she hadn’t bought in blue shades or just white, to be safe, because one can’t be absolutely sure, she told him she had suddenly developed this thing called mother’s instinct, something she didn’t have six weeks before that made her certain they were having a girl. He wanted a boy, but he did not argue with her because he saw in her eyes such joy he had never seen before. So, instead, he told her to wait till she was 20 weeks gone and they could confirm before going on a baby spending spree. She agreed. He was her steady force, her joy, her reality check, the reason for the glint in her eyes, as was she to him, and now they were expecting a precious little proof of their love that was conceived in a hotel in Accra, during their honeymoon, in which time they had discussed her leaving coperate work for sometime if a baby came.
“Maybe I can start my own business, a shoe line… Lagosians love shoes” she said, but she dismissed the shoe line thought as quickly as she said it, realising all over again that she liked being a Lawyer. She liked going to work. She liked the morning rush after snoozing her alarm four times; finally getting up and having a cold bath, skipping breakfast almost daily because the minutes lost to snooze can never be recovered. She liked drawing up arguments and counter arguments at work, showing up in court always well prepared in noiseless 4inch pointy heels. However, nothing prepared her for this loss, this ache in her chest that she couldn’t touch physically but tightened it’s grip on her each passing day.
Her 20th week came with it an emptiness, a hollowness. The feeling of an open sore that was being carelessly brushed over and over again, causing deeper wounds and more pain. She sank to a bottom that she was unwilling to climb out of. A miscarriage was supposed to be a far away thing, an intangible, un real thing that happened quite often, but should never have happened to her, especially because she was careful. She took her iron tablets without fail, ate something immediately after her nausea induced vomiting, followed everything to the detail just as she had read up on pregomoms, an online group for pregnant and nursing mother’s she joined. Every evening after work, her feet were up on the couch prodded by two pillows as she ate bread slices and banana – the only meals that stayed down with one hand and the other cradling her mostly non existent bump, an action she found came instinctively to her now, especially whenever she found herself in a potentially dangerous situation, like when crossing a road, one hand wrapped across her belly to protect Itunu. Same happened if she heard a loud bang or noise, she nestled her bump in her hands as if to reassure baby that everything was alright.
Likewise, nothing prepared her for the anger that she felt, towards God, for giving her a child when he knew he planned to take her back, or towards her husband, for not being nearly sad enough, for not being able to experience the pain in the manner in which she was experiencing it. But he did feel the pain too. More pain of confusion than experience like his wife. He did not know how to help her, what to do or say. If his presence was a reminder, or if his absence was a relief for her. He cooked easy meals for her but never offered to get her out of bed. He bought more pringles and tissues too when he noticed she was running out.
She took two weeks off work, and he stayed available for her for one week out of it, usually in the living room. It was easier there for him. Being out of their room but not too faraway in the living room put him in some sort of middle ground position. He was present but absent too. He hoped that it was what she wanted. To be left alone. He hoped that given time, things would ease back into how they were. But all of these did nothing, only sunk her deep into depression, dried up the saliva in her mouth and left her confused and blank at the same time. The thought of what to do with the ultra sound photo she had stuck to their tiny room fridge with the fridge magnet they bought from Accra haunted and weakened her. Should she tear it, keep it safe in her drawer, bury it? Did burying it mean she was erasing her child from her memory, would she still call her the first child if later she had other’s, would she get some sort of closure by keeping or discarding it? Questions that welled up from horrifying thoughts, questions that she did not have answers too, that came from deep inside her, a place she hardly knew existed. In the end, after way too much contemplation, she did leave the scan on the fridge, but turned it over so that it was only the blank white back that was visible, a testament of the kind of bleakness she was experiencing.
To Be Continued…
You can binge read my short stories this holiday, click here to start.