BY JEHOVAH-NISSI OSHEA
I looked at my wife, sleeping peacefully beside me and shook my head with a smile. Mine. My eternity. Miriam Ogan. Her breathing was even and her lips were parted slightly, letting out soft breaths and small sounds. “How can she even sleep like this after eating so much?” I wondered out loud. She’d eaten two plates of rice and plantain and then a huge bowl of fruit. My mother and I had looked at each other in shock as she ate the last piece of fruit and Miriam had smiled sheepishly and offered a resigned “what?”. I ran a hand over her flat belly and smiled. Miriam was tiny. No matter how much she ate, she never gained weight. Content, I wrapped my arms around her and fell asleep.
The next morning, my mum approached me. “Jon? Please can I have a moment?” I nodded and she grasped my arm and led me to the kitchen. “Jon, your wife’s eating habits are becoming scary. When last was she dewormed?” I was quiet as I tried to think of the last time Miriam had taken worm expellers and came up blank.
My mother looked at me and asked. “These children sef. Let’s go and make breakfast. Where is Miriam?” “Mummy, she’s still asleep.” My mother stopped and looked up the stairs. “Jonathan, its 1 in the afternoon.” I stuttered as I tried to defend her but in the end I had nothing so I went to wake Miriam up.
Her body was cocooned under the blanket and memories of early this morning flooded my mind. “Mir, get up.” I whispered softly while shaking her. She stirred. “Mir, come on. Wake up.” I said louder. She opened her eyes. “Good morning. How are you?” she asked.
“Mir, its 1pm.” She jumped out of bed and ran straight into the bathroom screaming “I’m late!” I snickered as I hears her yelp because of the water’s temperature and went downstairs. She’ll find out its Saturday on her own. Once Miriam came downstairs, we began to eat our food. My mother cleared her throat.
“Miriam, when last were you dewormed?” Miriam froze, fork in mid air. “Um… Last year?” She clucked her tongue. “You’re eating more than normal and the proportions are quite large. Its either worms or…” we waited for her to complete her sentence. “Or you’re pregnant! Miriam!!! Have you taken a test?” my mum and I looked at her with expectant eyes. She shook her head. I felt sick. “Oh Miriam, this is wonderful, you have to take a test today, as soon as possible in fact! Jon, go get her a pregnancy test. Now!” I jumped out of my seat and ran to get my car keys. As I drove, I didn’t know whether to be happy or sad.
I sat silently, eating my food while my mother in-law fussed about the house, choosing a room for the nursery and giving her opinion on colour schemes that would look good in a baby’s room. How could I tell her that Jon and I hadn’t wanted; didn’t want a child?
The gate opened and I waited with dread as Jon’s keys jangled in the keyhole. His mother was upstairs. His eyes met mine and they flickered with an emotion I couldn’t decipher. He walked over to me and took my knotted hands in his. He knelt in front of me and brought both of my hands to his lips. “Mir, everything will be okay. I can’t tell you how but I know it will be.” I nodded as tears welled up in my eyes.
This was my Jon, the same Jon I’d been with since my second year in university, the same one who had talked about starting a family with, the same one I’d shared a bed with since the night we first went there. The same Jon who had promised to love me for eternity. He wouldn’t leave just because we were having a baby and we weren’t ready.
I took a deep breath and collected the paper bag containing the pregnancy kit. Jon walked me into the toilet and with a soft squeeze of my shoulder, left me to take the test. With a shaky breath, I sat on the toilet seat and let my urine pour onto the stick. “Ew, how the hell do people do this?” I muttered while pulling the stick out from underneath me. As I washed my hands, I waited for the test to read. Two blue lines appeared on the stick, indicating that I was pregnant.
The stick clattered to the floor. My hands shook and my vision was blurred. “Mir?” My breath was ragged. “Mir, are you okay?” I was panting for air and the room suddenly felt too small. The stick lay a few inches away from me, showing me a truth that would change my life forever. “Miriam? Miriam, I’m coming in.”
Moments later, the door opened. “Jesus, Miriam!” His warm arms came round my shoulders and he pulled me to him, cradling my head between his neck and shoulder. I felt all the sadness seep out of me as he rubbed small circles on my back. “Miriam, its going to be okay, we’ll be fine.” he whispered. As I inhaled the familiar scent of my husband, I knew he was right. We’d be just fine.
Miriam groaned in frustration when she came out of the bathroom. “Its like I’m a leaking tap, dripping both vomit and urine. Ew. If this is what pregnancy is like, I don’t think I want to go round two.” I laughed and wrapped my arms around my wife who settled right in, burying her head in the crook of my neck. My hands cradled the small bump she was sporting and I caught her eye in the mirror. I flashed her a grin and kissed her cheek.
“What if we lose the baby?” she whispered. My brow furrowed. “I’ve been having terrible dreams Jon. Horrible dreams. I pray every night, I cancel them so they won’t come to pass, I have a prayer support chain and I do all I can so this baby and I will live and we can start our family.” Tears had gathered in her eyes as she spoke and a few dropped down her face.
I wiped the one that was resting on her lip off and kissed her. “Miriam, all we can do is pray. Even if we lose the baby, it won’t take away from the fact that I love you and I always will. Stop worrying so much.” I swooped her off her feet and placed her on the bed gently. Kneeling beside her, I lifted her shirt and kissed her stomach.
“Hey baby. I don’t think I need to tell you I’m your daddy, I mean, you must know that you have half of my DNA in you. Your mum is such a paranoid fuss pot don’t you think? I think she should just worry about having you safely and not about every single thing that is suspicious. I love both you and Miriam very much and I will show you how much once you come out here. Don’t die in us, okay. We love you.” I kissed Miriam’s belly again and pulled her to me. Tears were falling down her face and she leaned into me heavily. “I love you so much Jon. So damn much.” I kissed her forehead softly. Sometimes, words weren’t needed to convey a message.
Jon and I were getting ready for work. I had a meeting with the other members of the board of my organization and he had to visit a site and do some work in his office. “Ready?” he asked after breakfast. I nodded. Conversation flowed like a river between us. It was like we were still dating.
I smiled, remembering the night I met him. He was in his final year and I was in my second year in the University of Calabar. I was studying Electronic and Electrical engineering and he was studying Architecture. He’d left his glasses at my friends house and I was the one who answered the door when he came back for them. He’d stood for about two minutes, looking at me while I’d wondered if there was something wrong with him. Our first kiss happened that day.
Seven years later, my Jon was still mine and I loved him like the first day we’d met. I looked at him. “I love you Jon.” I said. He smiled. “And just how much?” I rolled my eyes. “Cheeky thing. I’m so tired.” He glanced at me briefly. “Sorry baby. I’ll come get you as soon as you call. You can’t stress yourself too much, our baby needs rest.” I smiled. “Sha drop me. After that, we can reason the rest.” He pinched my thigh. “Impatient woman.”
The meeting was taking forever and I needed to pee. I got up. “Excuse me please, I need to use the washroom.” They nodded respectfully and I left. I gazed at myself in the mirror after washing my hands and smiled. I had the pregnancy glow. The smile soon turned to a frown as pain ran through my stomach. I gripped the sink. “Okay Miriam. Don’t panic. Deep breaths. You’re probably having the baby, calm down.”
I’d been in the bathroom for a while. I was on the floor, bleeding and trying to make it to the door but the pain immobilised me. The door opened and Mfon, a member of the board and my close friend walked in. “Abasi! Miriam, what’s going on?! I’m calling an ambulance, no wonder you’ve been here for so long.” she said and rushed out of the room. She came back minutes later with the rest of the board in tow. “I’m calling Jonathan!” Abbey shouted and left the room. I was in pain. Blinding pain. Tears fell from my eyes and down to my chest. “Miriam, you have to breathe, the ambulance is on its way.” I tried to focus on my breathing but I was disoriented because of the pain. Jonathan’s voice broke through my haze. “Baby, please, stay with me. Please. The ambulance is almost here baby. Please open your eyes.” I cried out in pain. The noise around me grew louder as I faded more and more.
Miriam. Our baby.
Our baby was almost gone. Emergency C-Section. Blood transfusions. Those words echoed in my head over and over. Miriam was okay. She was fine. Our baby was fine. Our family was fine.