Perfection only exists in babies and pastries.
-Gayle Wray

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19th March 2015, somewhere between 8pm and midnight. I am supposed to be prepping for a CAT that is programmed for after today. Fortunately or unfortunately, am riding on the passenger’s seat of my sister and her hubby’s car. We are roaming around the outskirts of Mombasa town checking in and out of hospitals routing for one that offers the best delivery services and weighing their pros and cons against each other.

She had been confident of where she had wanted to deliver until a fortnight ago when the sonogram revealed that the umbilical cord had twirled around the baby’s neck leaving her two options; opt for a caesarian section and stand a 99% chance of survival or go for normal birth and risk losing one or both lives. Any sane person would choose the former.

The temperature is a bit tense but nobody is willing to admit. We make stories from time to time to avoid gross ideas that tend to slither in to idle minds but that does not mould the situation any better. This is owed to the fact that we are talking about mothers who go for deliveries and never return, those who birth still babies, those whose babies have been switched or born with complications among other not so pretty stories.

“If it gets to choosing one life, choose him. Choose my baby!” My sister tells her husband.

“Don’t say that.” He retorts.

“It’s not a request!” Fay responds almost screaming.

After what looks like a two seconds break, she goes berserk and throws a chain of heavy questions his way and before he could even answer, she was off having another bout of hysteria. The temperature was now transposing from environmentally unsteady to emotionally inept.

I felt like saying something. I wanted to say something. I couldn’t. It was a couple moment and being there was already an invasion of privacy. My brain won over my heart so I kept my tongue between my teeth. She has never been this scared, at least not before my eyes. No matter what life threw her way, she always tried to be indestructible. Maybe she was tough on the inside, I don’t know, but on the outside she was a complete wreck. Her aplomb was at zero. I guess everything has a first.

Then there was the fragile me. Torn between fear of losing a sibling and having to be strong for her. Help her Lord. Fix. It. Jesus. Be. A. Miracle. Worker. I found myself mumbling those words amidst tears threatening to fall.

The phone rings. Everyone almost jumps out because we had all been lost in a moment of silence for quite some time. It’s mum. She’s never called that many times in a day. She has been the most encouraging person since immemorial and she evidently has no plans to stop until infinity. She’s bold and doesn’t stammer in her speech. She’s actually a hundred percent certain that Fay and her baby are both going to come out alive. I’m not sure if this unwavering is amply bestowed by the fact that she is a mother or because she hasn’t had any of her weird dreams or both. But her certainty is reassuring, which is exactly a dose of what we all need. I don’t recall her exact words that night but I do remember laughing at least thrice because of her sick sense of humor.

It is almost midnight when we settle for an obstetrician in Pandya Memorial Hospital. So we head home right after and everyone lays the groundwork for the big day.

20th March 2015

It is the wee hours of the morning yet my brain is already peanut butter. As opposed to going through my notes, I am lost in mind thinking about Fay and her unborn child. I must have read only a quarter or less of the time because three quarters it was a cycle of meditating, researching about CS sections and googling how to pass a test you haven’t read for. The CAT was scheduled for 2pm and I had a class in the morning. They wouldn’t let me miss either claiming it was not a big deal. LIKE MY SISTER BEING IN THEATRE FOR AN HOUR OR SO IS SUCH A SMALL THING (YES I’M SHOUTING BECAUSE AM SO PISSED RIGHT NOW!) Me still thinks sitting in the waiting room doing nothing was better than sitting in class absent minded.

I have never been more unsettled. I kept looking at my watch with the hope that the second hand would tick a little faster and every 15 minutes I checked my phone for something. Anything. They said the operation would take place at 8am and it was noon and still nothing from either. I held back the urge to call and no matter how much I desired to sneak to the hospital and get the answers myself, I couldn’t. I knew better. The one person who was aware of my agony came and tried to revise with me, but I guess I was way out of this world to co-operate. I didn’t even take lunch. If anything the butterflies were working overtime!

Quarter to 2pm, I switched on my data and the speed at which messages were tickling in was numbing. I almost dropped my phone. I found myself whispering God please God please quite a number of times just staring down at my screen waiting for the messages to all settle in so that I respond in order of importance and urgency.

My brother-in-law’s message was the first to catch my eye. I opened it real quick and there it was. A picture of a bouncing baby boy! He was so new so fresh so innocent and so adorable. It was hard not to stare. I wished though he did more than send the pictures and signed out. He should have been more expressive! It’s okay though, the message was home.

Just as I thought of congratulating her, mum’s text comes in and as expected it was in all caps. WE THANK GOD! Just like that. Am assured all is well but can’t help but wish everyone was as colloquial as myself. I rush to the washroom and lock myself in. I want to pray but the excitement is overwhelming. I jump up and down, sway my hips left and right, rock my shoulders back and forth and loads of other dancing techniques I didn’t even know existed in me. I was an aunt!

I remember it’s already past test time and bolt back to class. I share the excitement with the only person who knew and she’s like;

“Is it done?” Her enquiry reminds me of movies where criminal masterminds call to corroborate if their errand boy(s) did their dirty work of ending someone’s life.

“Yeah!” I say almost jumping off my seat.

“Why does he look like that?”

She means the white stuff all over his skin. I google and after finding out am a little embarrassed to say so I just tell her she’ll know when she gives birth!

I have never done an assessment so speedy. I was among the initial people to submit and after I did I went straight and bordered a matatu to Pandya. No vehicle has ever been that slow. Damn, whoever said time is too slow for those who wait!

When I arrived the room was filled with cards, gifts, friends and so much joy. Some had dropped and left already while others were still around congratulating her and keeping her company. Fay’s breasts were yet to start producing milk so the nurse had gone to give Curtis some glucose. When he was brought, everyone oohed and aawed simultaneously and wanted to be the first to hold him. Me too but I was scared. Damn, what if he fell down? I have never carried a five hour old baby! When it was finally my turn, I was made to sanitize my hands and he was carefully placed on my arms. Forget about angels, this was akin to my dreams.

His dad wasn’t around. I guess he got uncomfortable with all those women storming in and out and he busied himself.

That night I slept on the bench. Wait did I even sleep? If I did it must have been for five minutes cos all I remember is helping Fay as she floundered to the washroom, being sent left right and center and the little I had left, I used to sneak up on him, staring and one time stealing him from his mum’s grip and returning him. One time the nurse caught me snatching him from his mum and she yelled at me to return him threatening to throw me out.

“Am his aunt I just want to hold him”

“I don’t care who you are. The baby belongs to its mother!”

A-ah she wasn’t kidding. So I sulked it up and did as I was told. I couldn’t sleep though. So I still sneaked up on them and was caught. Again.

“What’s your problem young lady?”

“I didn’t take him!”

“But you were just about to!”

I wasn’t. But I couldn’t deny. It was fishy enough and I didn’t want to get kicked out.

“If you can’t control yourself go home and come after sunrise!”

I was already deemed a criminal and nothing could possibly revamp that. So I prop myself in a napping position on the coach facing the wall while she watches over me. After what seems like a perpetuity of counterfeiting sleep, I turn around and slightly open my eye to check if she’s still there. She’s not. I open them wide to ascertain and indeed she isn’t. I’m tempted to sneak but I know if she catches me someone would end up hurt. And it sure wouldn’t be her. So I raise my head and elongate my neck to see if they’re okay. But even before I satisfy my intuition I hear footsteps outside and without holding back I retract very fast back to my ‘sleep’. I feel the adrenaline right from my head to my toe.

I know it sounds like a really fancy game but it wasn’t. So I throw in the towel and decide to hell and chilled till morning.

Two days later, my sister was discharged. More of discharged herself but they said it was okay. I was also dying to leave so we were all in.
The first month we never slept. Curtis was always crying. Always. And during the day we slept in shifts. I never contemplated dexterity but I also didn’t expect it to be a tad this complex. My best part though was when we had visitors almost all the time, they always brought gifts. I swear people love children. Sauti Sol might have convinced them babies come with a plate filled with roses, but they sure forgot the little thorn part.

One morning after cleaning him, he fell asleep and she brought him so she could sleep as well. She looked like hell but at least I knew better than to steal a baby or crave one for that matter.

“Check him I need to sleep even just for five minutes“

“All this sacrifice, then when he grows up he’ll retaliate when sent to the shop!”

It was a little joke back then and we both had a good laugh, but guess where we are at the moment!

It’s a sequel peeps; so, TO BE CONTINUED…

Sharoe

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