May is coming to a close. It’s Africa Day and so I will wish us all Africans a good one. It also happens to be my parents birthday. Yes they share the day although different years in physical birth-same day and date. When you want to look up the word Pan African, their faces might just show up there because yes they are from different African states equally birthing us in another state all together.
Speaking of birthing, May also happens to be that month we ‘officially‘ celebrate our mothers and mother figures. Of course father’s should seat and wait patiently their day comes in June. Without the women that take the risk to deliver us to this world after we all got planted, we won’t be here all breathing like we are entitled.
That said, something that has had me puzzled for the longest time is the miracle of child birth. For the longest time couldn’t wrap my mind around it maybe I still don’t. For this reason, I once put witnessing that happen in my bucket list and I’ll explain why in this story. Of course my friends in the medical field would tell me chances are for a woman whose never given birth before, I wouldn’t be allowed in. The trauma can be real and anything can happen they can’t risk discouraging a young woman from experiencing that miracle. But hey!
Anyway, in May that item was crossed from my bucket list and this came to me in the form of my then expectant neighbor. Labor day the 1st of May it was. I sometimes watched her lift things, carry her toddler son and wonder. Everytime I see her or the other expectant women or who just recently ‘put to bed‘ I’m in awe with so much respect for them. First of all, they all look beautiful but how they can still get around is amazing! Someone once told me ‘until you birth your own no matter what you say or how much you think you love your mom now, that day is the day your love and respect for her will know no bounds. If you ever told her something stupid you will go on your knees and beg her forgiveness’.
It’s almost 6pm in the evening. As usual, I’m working and concluding the meal plan in my head and about to take a break. Neighbor 1 knocks the door I step out and the woman is breathing hard bouncing on her feet, hands flaring in the air.
Neighbor 1: Do you have the Uber app? Please call one now.
Me: Okay… why? What’s happening?
Neighbor 1: She’s sick.
Me: Who is?
Neighbour 1: Neighbor 2 is. I mean the baby is here.
Me: Right. I’m coming. Then I hear a scream pierce the air.
Neighbor 1: Ohh my God! I’ve never done this before. I don’t know how to birth a baby.
I go back to the house shut my system down, pick my phone pull up one of the taxi hailing apps and rushed to the ‘welcoming home’ passing confused and crying children who didn’t know what was going on except their mothers were running from one home to the next calling for whoever knows what to do. I arrive and find the formerly last born screaming drenched in tears. Whisked the lad up and took him to one of the neighbors. The other kids could deal with him then returned. Our visitor was already on the floor. I thought wow! So this is how it goes. The labor had been super fast and very unexpected. She thought they had two more days or several hours but the doctor thought she had nearly two months to EDD and I almost flipped thinking the baby wasn’t fine but little girl was laying perfectly on the carpet oblivious to the drama around as I called for a warm blanket and get the closest woman to cover her. I thought not to be worried about the chord till we could somehow think straight and the nurse that was called arrived. All I asked was did the baby cry? They said yes. Then we are good.
Called neighbor 2’s husband to tell him sprint home and take your wife to the hospital their visitor already arrived. The taxi got lost. So I thought no way we are taking a woman in that state into a cab. Put a doctor on call. Thank God for the internet. The first person I could think off was miles away in a West African country and was online so I did a WhatsApp call she picked and fired instructions as calmly as possible. The women formed a chain. You boil water you prepare the tools that need stirilizing. The rest of you are confusing the children outside please get helpful or at least stay calm. I couldn’t understand how women who had at least two children to their wombs looked pale and paralyzed to the bone. Its later that my medics on call explained that usually you don’t know what is going on. You are contracting all you know is 1. Excruciating pain and shock 2. Baby must come safely 3. There’s temptation to give up and sleep but baby needs to come you just have to see it which is why not all those women would remember what to do.
The part that had me thinking who in the world are these people? Was this; we were all from different cultures and some had the luck of being around the people that still held some secrets of old days practice so guess what? Suddenly everyone had a theory of how things should and shouldn’t be done because it happened that the placenta decided it wasn’t ready to exit just because it’s best friend, the baby had. There had been some of the most outrageous suggestions that had me face palming and saying a firm no. We just couldn’t risk the other expectant woman, let’s call her Neighbor 3 who had come in going into premature labor because of shock and yes I was thinking psychologically and medically/physiologically… pressure, name it.
Neighbor 3 said, in her culture it’s a blessing to come close to a birthing woman especially one that’s birthed safely while in her state but neighbor 4 disagreed strongly because in her culture a woman in Neighbor 3’s state coming too close will ‘lock’ Neighbor 2’s birthing process. (Like what did you two just say? Like baby in the womb would stop baby who is ready from being born? What is this?) Someone else voices ‘no let her chew on… whatever that was. So I asked, okay who among you knows a garden that has that? Since you guys know the plant and root you can go look for it we will stay back and continue working. Just something to reduce the number of suggestions. Someone else said ‘We are lucky it’s not twins. In my culture the husband would not even be allowed in this house tonight’. (In my head, does she realize that’s the baby daddy right?) Finally to my utter relief the women decided to agree on one thing. Pray. Surely if we stuck to our cultures, religious affiliations e.t.c we will go nowhere.
Now we had a prayer/labor room that’s better than people making suggestion that had me a tinny winny bit horrified. So, as we all were saying a prayer, I got the hot water and more towels asking the closet woman to run a massage on the birthing mom. For 5 minutes we didn’t know what was going on but at least we were praying. The nurse or at least that’s what I thought she is was trying her best, doctor on call was also being patient online. Expectant neighbor 3 and I get to checking the packed bag atleast she would know what to pack as I could only guess.
The taxi had long given up. Then there was theee Amen moment. Everyone clapping thanking God and of course saying what should have could have and how they each saved the day. Cleaned up then we were left about 3 or 4 women.
Now here is the part I’ve always wanted to understand. The expectant neighbor 3 gave our birthing mother a dress for change lady says no I want the other one. Neighbor 3 tired Lady tired, sweating and heavily with child throws her hands in the air, hands akimbo ‘woman a few minutes ago you were screaming and now you have the guts to throw an attitude about what you want to wear?’ We burst out laughing. Of course it was relief. She was fine. Baby was fine. All are safe. But she changed it anyway I thought it was abit too tight and she said well Ms. Diva here wants this. She’s earned it. I said well…
Ms. New Mama Diva instead of relaxing like she’s being told crawls over saying ‘I want to see my baby‘. Picks her up and she’s completely lost staring at that tiny face then later decides it’s feeding time. At 7:30pm The Power supply company (K.P.L.C) did this thing where the lights go off then when we call we are taken round till the next afternoon if not evening. There could have been a power trip but who are we to know the problem right?
All done three women agreed to accompany them to hospital one went to cook for the new mom. All I did was seat there and stare at her-the new mom. She looked up and said thank you. I nodded but still stared. One thing I couldn’t wrap my mind but I was hoping that by looking at that miracle I would understand it. I would understand even a little about my Momma’s story of my siblings’ and I’s birth. Her first moments with each of us.
How does a woman move from screaming, crying, even sometimes cursing, on occasion about to give up then look at what she’s bringing then make a new resolve and strive harder even if its going to cost her own life, to ‘I want to see my baby(ies) then one look at the child mother mode is activated. What previously happened completely forgotten it’s like two different persons. She’s now enveloped by love. In their own bubble they share a secret no one will ever know.
A little later the husband arrives looking all proud and tall I’m just about to snicker and eye roll at him but he goes straight for the little one, I hold back. The new mom already moving around leaving me thinking if she’s sane and okay. Like just relax! I guess motherhood puts you on an energy and drive that has no proper description but she earned it y’all! Her two older kids safe at a neighbor’s, now happier and assured that their mom wasn’t dying; I excused myself giving them their moment but relaying the doctor’s instructions again for the husband’s benefit then said, guys that baby is blessed you just don’t know how. However I’m going home. When you ready, let me know I get you the car.