You were nineteen when it first happened. The quiet in the room after you showed him the test and he held you clumsily and asked, “What should we do?”
It surprised you, how calm, collected and put together he was that night. He kissed your forehead and swayed your nightgown away, placed his hands on your belly and pinched it. Still, you were startled a couple of times as you tried to put yourself to sleep. The duvet was too warm and his embrace made the air humid. You threw your left leg out of the duvet lazily, hoping the cold could breeze you to sleep. In the dead of the night, you heard its heartbeat.
“I need time to think,” you said.
“Time is of the essence baby girl… Oh, and baby girl!” he said with a happy smile as he reached for your belly again. He had been doing that since you learnt that you are pregnant. It excites you, that he wants to be the father of your child. You’ve not stopped swooning since he last called to check up on you and the baby. He’s been very intentional, with the way he holds you, the things you like, and hasn’t missed the chance to hold your hand and rub it gently. You’ve seen him smiling from the sides of your eye, and you decided to keep that smile. Age is just a number, and if you were meant to live till thirty, then time with the people you love is running out. You still remember the joy in his voice when he asked, “Can I go to the clinic with you?”
“Can we know the gender of the baby yet?” he asked with a grin.
“No Allan! I want it to be a surprise” You intervene.
“But bam! We need to start planning his fits and toys early. I need to tell my friends the kind of gifts to bring,” he added, his face sweetly formed into the kissy face emoji, you almost say yes and the sonographer distracts you both.
“Do we want to hear the heartbeat?” The whole time, you both thought the magic was the pictures of your womb. But the heartbeat. He cried and kissed you. He pressed your hands too hard. He couldn’t stop gasping oh my! A tear escaped you, as the doctor wiped off the gel used for the pelvic scan. That was it. You were going to be my parents. What joy!
You woke up to the sound of a beeper, your head moving circles, aching. You wanted water. Allan is the first person you saw when your eyes flickered open.
“Water. Allan… Water” You whispered.
His face was resolute. He seemed relieved and had a happy smile with tears flowing freely from his eyes.
“Give me one second.” He said as he left the room in haste.
Your eyes follow him as he moves, one look and it dawns on you that you are in a hospital. You weren’t due, what happened? Where is your baby? Is she okay? You want to ask questions, but your head is beating, threatening to burst open while your throat is drying up every passing second. Between water and answers, you need to know if your baby is fine.
The door clicks open and Allan walks in.
“Bam, you can’t have water. Not until after a few hours,” he says as he walks to sit by your side.
“Bam.” You call out and then hold your breath. It’s so evident that you are in pain.
“You should probably sleep. You don’t have to talk right now,” he told you.
“It feels like I’ve been sleeping forever. I don’t understand,” You respond.
You catch the smell in the air. The room reeks of fresh blood. You raise your head trying to look at the poorly cleaned floor, still stained with blood.
“Stop! You’ll harm yourself. You lost a lot of blood Bam. But you are fine now. I’m so glad you are awake,” he said as he kissed your hand. The one with the blood supply flowing through. It was your second pint of blood that night.
“When we got here, they said it was a life-or-death situation. Nothing makes sense love. You’ve been healthy. We drew up a diet, you’ve been doing soft exercises and not working as much. I don’t understand,” a disgruntled Allan said. You know this tone. It’s the same he had when his childhood best friend passed away. His face is painted with nothing but devastation. You could guess why, but you still asked.
“Did we lose it?”
He broke down. You both did. You were silent, swallowing the pain stuck in your throat. Fury kept forming in your throat, till they filled the fresh void cut deep in your tummy. It’s rock hard and you wish a syringe would burst to open your ball of pain. The fury sitting in the space where your baby once lived.
You asked questions that no one gave conclusive answers to. They said it was an ectopic pregnancy and it happens to some women. One nurse while administering drugs to you said, “You are still young, you’ve still got time. Don’t stress about this. When you get out of here, live your best life.” Allan seemed damaged. He wouldn’t stop fondling your tummy and wishing on the stars. He played with children at the mall and asked questions. It relieved your body of some guilt when you broke up because Allan never moved on from your loss.
You broke up two weeks later. He left the country to pursue his metrology dreams. He said he’ll wish on the stars to bump into a galaxy as stunning as you, and you said he’d probably stumble on the sun while abroad, because the sun, is also a star.
Chien. You would have named her the sun.
“Anne, you can’t leave the hospital, we need to prepare you for surgery right away.” The Caucasian specialist says.
“What? Why? Is everything okay?” You ask, alarmed.
“You know you had both the pelvic and transvaginal scans, right?”
“Yes. I did. Was the child affected in any way?”
“No. Good thing we did both scans. Your baby’s heartbeat is on the sides of the uterus. Which is to say, you are having an ectopic pregnancy.”
Shock waves spread through your body in a split second and you want to break everything into pieces.
“What did you say, Doc?”
“We need to operate on you, your life is at risk here. If the baby continues developing in your fallopian tube, it will rupture which will lead to haemorrhage and other fatal consequences.” He offers, trying to be calm and composed.
After a long silence, you ask, “Can it happen twice?”
“How do you mean?” He asks.
“It happened when I was nineteen. I’m twenty-eight now,” you reply.
“Oh, Child. You will be fine. Given the fact that you are long gone, stopping the development of the baby is not a viable option. The life-saving solution is going into surgery to safely remove the fetus, if the situation is not bad enough, the tube will be okay. The look on his face troubles you. It’s the look Dr Amos had when he walked out of your mother’s operating room and broke the news of her passing to you.
“Will I die?” You ask.
“If we don’t perform this surgery…” You raise your hand, asking him to stop talking.
“Can I call my fiancée?” You enquire.
“Sure. You will need someone to take you home after the surgery.
Beret’s calls go unanswered. You’ve called him five times already. You left him a message.
“I’m going into surgery. Come down here the soonest as possible.” Then you call your younger sister and instruct her to come to the hospital in the next hour.
When you wake up, your sister is standing by the window, staring at the sunset. You want her to know that you are awake, but you also want to experience peace and quiet before the questions begin. The door crackles open, putting to bed your desire for quiet.
It’s Beret in the company of your Caucasian gynaecologist. Joy turns instantly glancing at you. She smiles and asks, “Did they wake you?”
“No. I’ve been looking at you for some seconds. Didn’t want to distract your sunset-watching session,” you try to joke.
“Can I talk to you privately?” The doctor asks.
“Yes, sure. Something good? I hope?” You ask as Joy and Beret clear the room.
“Medicine is advancing, so there’s hope.”
“Proceed please,” you say.
“When you have an ectopic pregnancy, the affected fallopian tube is removed if the situation is beyond redemption. Sadly, for you, it seems you’ve had an ectopic pregnancy before and one tube had already been removed. You have one tube now,” He pauses, giving you time to soak it in.
“You can still get pregnant but there are several other options for you. It’s important to note that chances of having another ectopic pregnancy are high, hence the need to consider other options,” he says while adjusting his seat beside you.
“Progress with the hopeful news.” You speak.
“You can consider IVF you know? Freeze your eggs and stay open to the possibility of having children through surrogacy.”
“How is that even possible?” you ask, tears flickering at the corners of your eyes.
“There’s a lot of science, biology and technology to unpack, we can do that tomorrow. But all hope is not lost. Surrogacy will enable you to have your biological children after you’ve frozen your eggs. It seems like a long impossible journey right now, but it’ll all make sense when you get started. I’ll let you think about that”. The gynaecologist says.
“Yeah. I’ve had enough for the day. I need to rest,” you respond, shifting uncomfortably in the hospital bed.
“You will be fine,” he says as he walks out of the room.
You look out of the window. Night falls. It feels like life’s curtains are drawing in on you. You want to wail, let loose and scream into the universe. Nine years after your worst encounter, you relive a similar experience.
You pick up your phone to scroll to Instagram, to escape the world for a little while. A few scrolls down, you meet Allan singing into his wife’s protruding belly. He seems happy. The door opens again, its Beret. He runs to your side, leaving the door open. He holds you tenderly and whispers, “We will be okay,” and he leans in for a hug. You snort and let out silent mourns and whimpers. You are undone.
You have talked to Beret, about the possibility of having children through surrogacy, or adoption, and while he holds you tender and whispers “It’s fine, we’ll be okay”, the uncertainty in his eyes, tells you that will only be for a while. You cannot control the thoughts flooding your mind. The choking feeling that you’ll never caress your tummy, throw a baby shower and have the motherly experiences people are always in awe of. You wonder, if you’d too crave boiled matoke, hate the smell of omo and spit a lot. You want to have these experiences, to be normal, to be a mother, to tell your children about how it felt to carry them in your womb. But this sudden realization has robbed you of your dreams, to feel, to experience, to tell, but still, you want to try.