Is it possible to have that one drink that stays with you for the rest of your life? I think so. Mine was a cup of tea. I will tell you how it was made but it has a background leading up to it.
It was 21st December 2010 and I had just arrived in a cab at the hospital at Allen Avenue. I was quite chirpy for a woman almost 40 weeks pregnant. My doctor had asked me to come in to be induced. He said he was travelling at the end of the year and he did not want me to give birth without him. It turned out he was just looking for how to tell me to come in without making me alarmed.
Anyway, I strolled in casually with a large stomach and an even larger suitcase… first timer tingz (only first timers bring the whole wardrobe with them). I neatly arranged my stuff on the table beside me; a novel, cylindrical container of smarties, a bible and my phone. Silly me. I thought I was in a hotel.
So they started the process by inserting some pill in me to ‘soften’ the cervix. By morning nothing had started happening. I was pretty much coasting. I was browsing, reading and even went for a shawarma in a Lebanese pizza place nearby.
It was almost midday.
The doctor came to check me. He decided to ‘sweep’ the membrane.
(TMI ALERT. STOP HERE IF YOU ARE EASILY EMBARRASSED)
All yea women that have not given birth yet. Nothing prepares you for how you will lose control of modesty. And you can read stuff a million times on the internet, going through it is just another thing entirely.
‘Sweeping’ the membrane is not some light feathery glance in your nether regions. Fingers were pushed inside me and it hurt so bad that I shouted.
“Doctor!!! Are you trying to pull the baby out?”
When he brought his hand out, the glove was bloodied and I was not surprised. How on earth will something hurt like that without blood coming out?
I was given an injection I think and less than an hour later, the show began in full force.
In all the newsletters I had signed up for (What to expect, Baby Centre…) I had never come across the fact that being induced is more intense that starting labour by yourself.
The pain did not gather momentum like all the books said it was going to. It packed a punch and started slamming me with irregular timing in between.
It is very hard to describe how painful contractions are.
Pain takes a physical form complete with talons. It grips you tightly and your whole body is suspended and stiff with pain. Then it lets go completely and you are exactly yourself again. Only there is a problem. You know the pain is coming again so rather than relax and enjoy the breather, you are filled with anxiety and then it comes again. It squeezes you tightly and you can barely breathe and then it lets go again.
The intensity is mind blowing. Finger snapping, hair pulling, name-calling, anything to distract yourself from the pain or to share the pain happens.
This was 22nd Dec. I hadn’t eaten anything all day. It was impossible to feel hungry. My husband joined me when it was dark. I won’t go into our conversations. Just know that it was nothing like
“Honey be strong, I love you…”
“I know, I can’t wait to see our baby”
Kikikikikiki… it was let’s just say… very colourful.
Another thing I learnt to be wary of that day was “checking dilation”.
It sounds so dainty. Like someone would come and lift up your hospital gown and check how things are progressing.
It involved fists, shoving and shouting.
I remember feeling relieved when a smallish nurse came to check on me. How bad can a hand hurt?
In this case, size did not matter. That woman damaged me I am sure.
When it was time to descend to the labour dungeon (yes now… ball and chain = stirrups). I got up and walked bare footed downstairs. I had zero copulations to give.
Some more pain and pain and even more pain. It got so bad that I started a praise and worship session. Confessing my sins and begging God for mercy.
The last check to see if I was ready to push did not hurt at all. I was chained down (exaggerating a wee bit) and ready to push. The last stage comes with an urge to push. Like you want to poop magnified a gazillion times. I pushed till I had red veins crisscrossing the whites of my eyeballs (my husband said). I was spread-eagled and unashamed with three people looking at what I did ‘yanga’ with all my life.
They did an episiotomy during one of the contractions. You know, when you are deliberately cut open to assist the baby and its big Igbo head in coming out. My people, I did not feel a thing. That is how painful a contraction is. I was cut open with a blade and I did not feel it.
At about 12:15a.m 23rd December, a baby came out and oh my, my body felt the relief immediately. I didn’t see his face, just his thick thighs and very prominent bottom. He cried and they cleaned him up and took him upstairs. The placenta came out easily enough. Then they had to stitch me up. You would think with all the pain I went through I would not flinch at numbing injections. I had the ‘yeyerity’ to still form pain. Shame returned to me. I suddenly saw that I was naked and a very young MALE doctor was pushing up his glasses as he stitched me up. Staring intently at was must have been a bloody mess… and I am not swearing.
My husband was smiling and holding my hand. Very bizarre set up when you think about it.
I finally got down the table after being cleaned up. I was given a clean hospital gown to wear and I was guided to a bed right there.
Waiting for me was a teacup and teapot with sugar and a can of peak milk.
It was then I noticed how parched my throat was.
I sipped it and it was pure heaven.
I will never forget what that tasted like…
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