AUTHOR: OGECHI ALABI
Nkem went for her doctor’s appointment with Demian. She had submitted her medical file from Nigeria to them. The doctor was a nice elderly man. He took a measurement of the tummy, took samples for a test and also requested for the final ultrasound to be done. The date the ultrasound was to be done was two weeks after. Demian took time off work and went with her. Together they saw the sex of the baby; they were having a son. Demian was so happy he couldn’t contain his joy.
“I will have a son. Nkem, you have made me the happiest man in the world. A son? My father will be thrilled.”
“Can we wait until we have the baby before we tell them?”
“It will be more fun.”
“We will get gifts from relatives so how will they know what to buy?”
“They should send cash, we will buy the clothes. We have clothes for the first few months, they can shop for after that.”
“My mum won’t like this.”
“If you tell her, she will tell others. I am not telling my family. Let’s surprise everyone, it will make them so happy.”
Demian agreed with her and they kept it a secret.
According to her last scan, Nkem was due by the third week of September. Demian told his mother and she prepared to come for the delivery. She planned to come by the second week but unfortunately, the baby came early.
The doctor had convinced Demian that he wasn’t hurting the baby when he had sex with Nkem. Nkem’s hormones were raging in her last trimester and she needed him but he was too scared. When the doctor convinced him, they began to have regular sex.
The night of the delivery, they had sex. Nkem stood up to clean up and ease herself. She noticed her bladder was empty but urine was still trickling down the side of her leg. When she cleaned up with tissue, she saw a brownish mucus-like discharge. She found it irritating and decided to take a shower. She made it into the shower closet before she noticed the gush. She called out for Demian. He saw the fluid on the floor.
“My water broke,” Nkem announced to him.
“Don’t tell me the baby is coming now?”
“I was having some pains earlier today but it wasn’t severe. Now, this happened. I think we should go to the hospital.”
“Take a shower then we can go.”
Nkem took a shower and joined Demian in the room, he was pacing. Nkem got dressed, brought out her arranged hospital bag and then took her phone and charger. “Are you ready?” she asked Demian.
“I am. I can’t do this alone, can I call Ada and Agnes?”
“It is late. We can do this.”
“No, I can’t. I need my support system. It involves you so I need them. You wouldn’t understand.”
Nkem could see he was struggling to get it all together. He was panicking so she said, “Ok, we can call them. But we have to be on our way now. I will call them in the car.”
Nkem called and told them she was in labour. They were up and ready to meet us at the hospital. They asked if they used a cab and she said no, Demian is driving. They were surprised.
At the hospital, Nkem was admitted. She was checked and was six centimetres dilated. The labour was progressing. The pain wasn’t much initially but when the baby’s head descended, she felt the pressure and pain. They gave her oxygen to inhale to help her through the pain. It didn’t seem to help. Demian was already in a panic mood seeing Nkem in such distress. Nkem needed him at that moment but he was scared and almost in tears.
Ada took over. She rubbed Nkem’s lower back with a soothing cream. While encouraging her to use the oxygen. Nkem used it again and as the contraction came again, she flung it and cried out for Demian. Ada beckoned to him to come. He came closer but was still scared. Ada positioned him behind Nkem and made him rest her body on him. Demian held her closer and told her he loved her.
“It is so painful,” Nkem said to him.
“I know babes, but we have to go through this to have our son” Ada and Agnes looked at each other. They couldn’t believe it was Demian speaking so confidently. He rocked her gently until the next contraction. He helped her hold the oxygen mask while she wriggled in pain. She couldn’t see the fear on his face because he was behind her. He was terrified.
The nurses came to check and it was time. She was fully dilated. Demian wanted to remain behind her but the doctor and nurses refused. They set her up for the delivery process. They hung her legs and positioned her to help the ‘push’ to be easy. He stood beside her, he didn’t want to watch the whole process. They asked Nkem if she would like the others to stay, and she agreed.
Read – Sisterhood episode 69
The delivery process didn’t take much time. Within five minutes of pushing, the baby was out. Demian was focused on Nkem until he heard the baby cry. He turned to look at his son who was now placed on Nkem for mother and child contact. He was so excited. The boy wouldn’t stop screaming and it gave Demian even more joy. He bent over and kissed Nkem passionately. “Our son is here. He is worth every bit of the stress and pain. Tell me what you want Nkem, mention it here and it is all yours.”
Nkem laughed at him and focused on her baby before he was taken away. She asked Demian to go with the baby but he wasn’t interested. Agnes hugged Nkem and went with the baby. Ada held her hands and congratulated her. “You haven’t answered your husband. What do you want?”
“I want us to always be happy like this, that’s all” Nkem answered.
“Wrong answer. Stop being modest, you are married to him already. Let him buy a house now a baby is involved. It is time to move out of apartments and live in a house so your child can be raised in a good environment. You can afford it” Ada replied.
“Ada, Nkem wants to go back to Nigeria. She didn’t resign from her job, she took time off to study. When she leaves what would I do with the house? Will I live alone there? I can get her a house if she agrees to stay with me there. Or I will just get the house in Abuja for her.”
Ada was not happy about Nkem returning to Nigeria. She was supposed to be where her husband was. Why would she want a long distance marriage? To Ada, Demian didn’t think this through. Why would he agree to such? She could see they loved each other but it seemed as though Nkem was the one running the marriage. What she says is what happens. She appeared calm and humble but she was in control and could not be bullied. She had to watch out for her and talk sense into her.
Agnes joined them, gave Demian her phone and said, “Mummy and daddy are on video call, I have shown them their grandson. They want to talk to you.”
Demian moved away to talk to them. His mother was upset. She claimed it was because Nkem didn’t want her at the delivery the baby came early. She was crying. Demian told her it just happened and had nothing to do with Nkem.
“So why didn’t you call us on the way to the hospital?”
“We called Agnes and Ada who were nearby. We were panicking and we needed to get there in good time. They are cleaning Nkem up, once they are through I will call you to speak with her.”
“I am sure she has called her family. Her mother must be packed and ready to fly down.”
“She just had the baby, she doesn’t have her phone with her so when did she call her mother? If you are going to be this way then I would rather you don’t come. Ada and Agnes have been wonderful, they witnessed the birth and have treated Nkem with so much love. I don’t need you here to antagonise my wife. Yes, I will call her mother and book her flight to come down, it is her right.”
His father stepped in, “Calm down son. I am glad you have realised that your mother wants to grow a hedge between yourself and your wife. Why she is doing this, I can never understand. I won’t allow her to come if she is going to continue this malicious behaviour. If she agrees to respect your choices and decisions, then I will allow her but she won’t stay in your apartment. She can stay with Agnes or Ada. She can only visit and go back and not sleep over. You have to take time off work so you will be there to protect your woman. I will call her mother to inform her. Don’t worry, I will pay for her flight. Call us when Nkem can speak with us.”
Demian joined the others. They had put in new sheets and the place was back to looking like a hospital room. A nurse wheeled their son into the room. Nkem had the opportunity to hold him in her arms. She was so excited. She looked at the length of his legs, they were long. He was going to be tall just like his father. She handed him to Ada. She was so happy. The calls kept coming. Nkem’s mother, her siblings, Demian’s extended family and friends. Once Uloma knew, she told Funke and it spread from there to even uncle Tobi.
The next day, Nkem and her baby were discharged from the hospital. Demian brought them home with Agnes. Ada was at the house with Demian’s mother who arrived that morning. They made pepper soup for Nkem to eat when she returns. Nkem was exhausted. She couldn’t sleep because of the phone calls. Family members in their vicinity came to visit. It was a rollercoaster of emotions for her. She was happy, excited, in pain and exhausted.
Demian’s mother could see the stress on her. She asked her to sit down and served her the pepper soup. It was spicy and delicious with plenty of dry fish and stockfish. She asked Agnes to bring the breast pump they had bought. She sterilised it and then asked Nkem to pump out milk so she can take her medication and sleep for six hours without interruption. She will feel better when she wakes up.
Demian didn’t want anyone to see or touch her body, especially her breasts. He asked her to come into the bedroom and helped her pump the breast milk into the bottles. He brought out the bottles with the pump and took her medication to her. He assured her he would be with the baby while she slept. She needed to sleep. Due to the excitement, she hadn’t rested.
Demian timed her sleep. He left his mother to take care of the milk. When the baby woke up, he allowed his mum to warm the milk for him and he insisted on feeding him. They could see he was very excited. He wanted to do things by himself. When his son fell asleep after learning to burb him, he went to wash the bottles and sterilise them. He went into the nursery with his family to empty the hospital bag and help arrange the place so it would be easy for them to attend to the baby.
“You want to do everything yourself. Why then do you want her mother to come?” his mother asked him.
“I will be resuming work after a month. She will resume her lectures in October. Her mother will stay with the baby while we are away from home. She can stay for as long as she desires as she doesn’t have a husband. Once she goes, he will go to daycare. We will manage ourselves.”
“Wouldn’t it be easier for me to stay for a while and when he is weaned take him with me home….”
“It is not easier. He stays here in his home with his father and mother. You don’t need to leave your job to stay with us, you can visit once in a while. And we can also visit you.”
“You don’t want me around your child and wife, it is unfair.”
“Tradition stipulates her mother has the right to be here. She will be more comfortable with her mother. You have antagonised her many times and she will be weary of leaving her child with you. I need to ensure she is happy at all times. When you learn to treat her like your daughter and respect her choices, then we can revisit this issue.”
“That’s fair. I won’t deny I am hurt but it is fair. I will stay until her mother comes.”
There were no issues from then on.
Nkem’s mother left Nigeria after a week. She used the period to go shopping for food items and needed time to dry some vegetables and other foodstuffs. Demian and Ada went to pick her up. She was excited to see them. She was so happy to be in America. She couldn’t believe she has come to the country she had only heard of and it was her child that brought her there.
When she saw Nkem and the baby, she was so happy. She could see she had been well taken care of. She went to wash her hands to carry her first grandchild she was aware. She knelt and prayed to God. She thanked him for bringing her to America and also thanked him for allowing her to see her daughter and her grandson in good health. She prayed for Demian and his family. She asked that love fosters among them as they have accepted Nkem and treated her as a member of their family. She prayed for his parents especially for accepting Nkem as their child. Coming to America was like a dream.
Within two days, she had acclimatised to the timing and her environment. She slept in the nursery with the baby. She only brought him to be nursed once at night so Nkem’s breasts won’t be too engorged and early in the morning when she had to bathe him. If he woke up more than once at night, she gave him the bottle. She rests during the day while Nkem and Demian took care of the baby. She made most of the food for the family. She insisted that Nkem shouldn’t do any strenuous work as her body hadn’t fully recovered from the stress of childbirth. The only thing Nkem did was go for registration for her Masters.
Mama Nkem stayed with them for three months and then she requested to return to Nigeria to celebrate Christmas and the New Year with her other children. She promised to come back in January and would finally go back before Easter. It was a good deal.
For the Christman holiday, Nkem suggested to Demian that they surprise his parents by spending Christmas and the New Year with them. Demian was glad she suggested it. Nkem went shopping for Christmas gifts. They travelled to Dallas for Christmas. He arranged with Iyke to pick them up from the airport.
Iyke didn’t recognise Nkem. If he didn’t see her with Demian, he wouldn’t have believed she was the one. No one would believe she just had a baby. Her tummy was flat as though she was never pregnant. She exercised every day to get back in shape. She was slimmer than she was before her wedding. The weather was favourable to her as her skin glowed. She looked happy.
When they arrived at Demian’s parents’ home, Nkem couldn’t believe her eyes. The house was large and beautiful. They went to the entrance of the house and rang the bell, a maid opened the door and let them in. Demian’s mother came out of the kitchen and stopped in her tracks. She couldn’t believe her eyes. She screamed for her husband before running to them. Demian’s father came downstairs to see why his wife was screaming at him and was also surprised.
They welcomed them to their home. Demian’s father carried his grandson and he was very happy. He prayed for him. They invited friends and relatives nearby to meet their grandson. The house was full within a short time. Nkem went into the room to express milk for the baby. She handed the bottles over to her mother-in-law. She left her son with them and went out with Demian. Demian’s mother was so happy. She thanked her.
Nkem dumped mummy duties on her mother-in-law. She wanted the baby to bond with her too. He seemed to like her a lot. Demian’s father wondered why they hadn’t named the baby. Demian explained that he hadn’t been christened yet and he was hoping they could do it while they were with them in Dallas on Christmas day
“Have you chosen a name?” his father asked.
“Not yet. Nkem?”
Nkem added, “We decided we will name him after you and give him a second name from my family.”
Demian’s father was moved to tears. “You are naming him after me? What did I do to deserve the honour? Choose the name you want.”
Demian replied, “Dominic. Nkem loves the name.”
“Dominic it is. Thank you for giving me this honour.”
He was christened and named Dominic Chinagorom (God speaks for me). He had his two grandfathers’ names and it made both families happy.