My beautiful daughter was born on the eve of Christmas, two years ago. She was everything I had dreamt about, perfect in every way and her beautiful eyes communicated how precious she was and still is to me.
Femi and I had been trying for eight years and realizing I was pregnant after the failure of two in-vitro fertilization (IVF) process was the best news I had received in years. My husband practically became a handy man…he was the cook, the driver, the laundry guy, and any other thing you could think of. The coming baby meant everything to us and he could not afford any minor accident. There were days he would tease me and say
‘iya ibeji is it my babies that are responsible for your laziness abi is this a planned work? I am not complaining sha o’.
So when Oretimofe (my baby’s name) arrived, no one could measure our joy but my worst nightmare began two weeks after her birth. I often thought she was not breathing properly and I thought she looked pale but each time I told my mother-in-law (mama), she waved the idea and said it’s because I was a JJC ( Johnny just come) in child matters but she soon agreed with me and we took my little angel to the hospital.
The laboratory assistant had to draw blood from her and I felt terrible that at just two weeks, I was partaking in activities that hurt my little girl. The test results came and I was told she had jaundice which the doctor said could be due to breastfeeding her (I was the reason for my daughter’s sickness). She was admitted and my husband was very supportive through this period.
On getting home, mama was teaching me how to bath for Timofe but each time I tried, all I got were thoughts of drowning her in the bath water so I decided to feign tiredness whenever it was bath-time. Days went by and insecurity became a part of my daily battles.
Atinuke, my home-help was the poor recipient of my off moods. I shouted at her for placing the baby’s cup with every other person’s,
‘O fe pa mi lomo abi’(do you want to kill my baby?) I would say.
No one could touch the baby’s things till they had sanitized their hands; I couldn’t bear my child getting sick. Femi constantly assured me that everything was ok and that nothing bad would happen to me or Timofe but I only snapped at him.
“You cannot understand how can you? It wasn’t you who went through labour pains oh, if you don’t have better things to say just leave me alone”.
The accommodating and hospitable part of me vanished with each passing day and I became an irritable person, a being I never thought I could be and it was difficult to say if it was the stress of motherhood or maybe I was just going crazy. I couldn’t concentrate on anything, but I had degrees at nagging and complaining and oh at crying. Crying had become a necessary hobby that I could not but indulge in on a daily basis but the strange thing was that there was nothing to associate my sadness with. I am sure that even you would be surprised at a woman having a child after so long in this horrific state but the keys to setting myself free was lost, probably swallowed up by some old witches in my village.
This particular event isn’t one I remember so well but from the way Femi described it, it was very embarrassing, degrading and most frightening. Mr. Bankole (my husband’s business partner) and his family were at our house. I had transitioned from the black zone into the grey area and was quite cheerful on this day. There was sweet aroma of egusi soup and stewed dried fish, I was setting the table when I heard my angel crying. It sounded more like a lost cat searching for its mother, it nauseated me and I went to her room in rage. I picked her up, looked at her eyes and saw the purity in them, she too was calm and for a short while, it was as though there was a mother-daughter connection and then she started again, her frail legs kicking franctically and her tiny arms reaching out for mommy. I cooed, carried her, I rocked her, I danced, I sang, I tried breastfeeding, I did all I could but she just would not keep quite. I couldn’t bear it anymore and in anger, I took her by the arm and hit her against the wall till her blood brushed the wall. “Bola, Bola, bring her”, Mrs Bankole had heard the child crying and came into the room. I had just had thoughts of killing my own child. I could not control the tears, I had to get away from this child, from anyone, I was too dangerous.
I couldn’t tell anyone what I had just imagined.
I didn’t join them for dinner that night, I left the house unseen, There were voices in my head hunting me, they said ‘don’t bring pain to this family, you must run away as far as possible’. I obeyed them and ran.
I don’t know how long I ran but my eyelids opened and all there are needled fixed into my arms, blood running through them and ‘awtch’ my head hurts. My husband is here, mama is here too.