Written by Alexandra
Read Part 1 here
It’s the same hospital where I work. The same unit where I am a junior resident. One of my favorite colleagues and senior, Dr. Mrs Olga examined Sade and sent us straight to the delivery room. She clapped my shoulder and said, “you really wanted to deliver this baby at home, what changed your mind?” I couldn’t tell her I had slept while my wife went through labor alone. So much for my preparation against today, the rocking techniques and Lamaze videos we had watched together.
The nurses were more than eager to satisfy all my wife’s whims. We were in the most comfortable delivery room. My mom, who made her way down to the hospital immediately her drowsy and somewhat confused son called her, was allowed to stay. She stayed close and never missed a single sweat that dotted my wife’s brow. I stood close by watching. She had grown less chatty, or so it seemed. She told me over and over that she wasn’t mad at me for sleeping but I still felt so bad.
The head nurse came in and asked if I would wear a glove and an overall on my scrub. I obliged but I was more than satisfied to let her take the delivery while I held and encouraged my wife. She was placed on fluids while I initially declined augmentation. The contractions were strong enough as my wife’s abdomen seemed to vibrate with each wave of contraction. The amniotic membrane was ruptured artificially and at that point it was foolhardy to refuse augmentation. Dr. Olga didn’t bother asking, she went straight ahead.
Sade complied with every command, as the head of the baby crowned.
She pushed and tears gushed out of her eyes. Mom said it was a bad omen and started reprimanding her…”women don’t cry during labor, it’s bad omen for the baby.” I had to tell mom to let her be, our baby is a blessing from God. It cannot be anything otherwise. My little outburst seemed to give Sade some extra impetus as she gave hard pushes; then it happened – he arrived!
I cannot describe the relief I had when I heard him cry immediately he came out. At least it was all good news thus far. He was the most beautiful bloody-body covered with whitish-dirt I’ve ever seen! I held him for a while, before he was yanked off me by the midwife to be cleaned up. I thought he looked like an angel, a baby angel if one ever existed. Maybe we should name him Raphael, no, Gabriel would be better… “Dr. Olaniyi!” I was brought out of my mini trance. “Your wife, do you think she’ll need a repair? She has a little tear.” For someone who had spent almost a year in obstetrics, I seemed confused. “Please let Dr. Olga examine and decide” I mumbled, as I held Sade’s hand. She seemed to have regained some of her strength, as she asked if I covered the delivery on camera. I smiled and told her the camera was the very last thing on my mind. Truly no amount of preparation could brace one up for the reality. Nothing had gone as I planned, as we planned. In fact I had planned to do a video recording of every moment. My wife and I had had good laughs at how hard she would bite me and call me the most terrible man in the world. She would speak in tongues and sing hosanna in the highest sopranos. In one case scenario, she even sent me out of the labor ward. All we had at that moment was alternate reality.
Suddenly Sade closed her eyes and turned away from me. No eager smile or eyes searching out the crying infant. I asked how she felt and she said she didn’t know. I put on a new pair of gloves quickly to confirm she wasn’t bleeding, since Dr. Olga seemed to be preparing for an emergency caesarean section. I asked for more intravenous fluid because I figured she might be hypoglycemic and exhausted from the whole process. I quickly ordered mom to stay with her while I got something for her to eat.
The nursing sister at the postnatal ward called my name. I was amidst a bunch of my colleagues from the pediatrics department who were on a ward round at the postnatal ward. I ran into them whilst returning from my trip to get Sade her favorite meal. It was a happy atmosphere filled with congratulatory jokes. The nurses had told my colleagues that I was all fidgety in the labor ward, that I kept wringing my hands as if that wasn’t what I did every day. She even went as far as saying I kept making groaning sounds while my wife pushed, like I was the one in labor!
“Doctor, can I have a word with you?” the nurse said as she arrived where we all stood. Alarmed at the tone of her voice, I followed her and asked what the matter was. We tried initiating early breastfeeding for your baby in line with baby-friendly initiatives but your wife has declined breastfeeding. She said she doesn’t feel like it. Should I give him infant formula for now or would you like to speak with her? “It’s okay. I’m going to check on her, thank you”, I replied.
“Folashade, how do you feel?”, I asked as I arrived her bedside. Smiling up at me, she exclaimed “refreshed! “ She was sitting up in bed and looking way better than the woman I saw being wheeled into the post-natal ward hours earlier.
“Would you like to eat now? I asked. “Yesssss!!! Is it moi moi?” Sade, no moi moi please, I got you rice and meat. She gave me a peck, rearranged the bed spread and requested for a tray. I talked while she ate. Then I stood up to throw away the take away pack when she was done and I went to carry the baby from the baby cot beside us. After about 5 minutes of hoping she would take the baby from me and start feeding, I realized something was indeed wrong. I went further to ask gently when she would like to start breastfeeding but she only dismissed us – myself and the baby with a wave of the hand!
To be continued …