I look down at the sticky wet mess between my legs. The red stain attached to my dress and choke on a heart wrenching sob. It was happening again.
“No God! Please no…” the sharp pain in my gut overtakes my cries as it seems to also take the oxygen from my lungs. Where is the invisible knife that cut at my entrails leaving me bare, exposed?
I tried to close my legs to keep anything from coming out but every time I attempted to, the intensity of the pain forced them back open. My white sheets were maroon now. I need to do something, anything. The cramps have stopped and I spot the phone on the desk in the far corner of the room.
I half drag myself, half walk towards it, leaning on the bed for support. I don’t allow myself to think about anything but this one goal, to reach the phone. My fingers tremble as I dial the numbers, my vision blurred. The ringing beeps seem to sound like sirens. Each one louder than the last, causing my heart to thump in my chest, my head to ache. The feeling is worse than a hangover.
Just as he answers another wave of cramps overtakes my entire being.
I hear his voice from afar but can’t respond. I have to remind myself to breathe. Just breathe. But the pain. Oh God the pain! I whimper. He panics. I could hear it in the change of his breathing. In the desperate way he called me.
“Honey? What’s happening? Is everything okay?
Babe speak to me?
I feel like I have no control over my body. To be woman is to be controlled by your body. I try to speak in full sentences but can only get out, “I need you…” I slow to inhale and exhale “to come home”. I take a few labored breaths and whispered, “Now” lamely.
He tries to speak calmly but I know him too well. I know his heart is racing, almost competing with time. I can tell by his voice intonations.
“I want you to stay where you are. Cynthia can you hear me? Or can you get to the bed? Cynthia? Shit…”
I can’t speak. The pain is too much.
He is still talking “I’m calling Emily, to see if she’s home. She’ll get to you faster but I’m coming home right now. Baby you’ll be fine, okay. I’m coming. I love you.”
I can’t remember if I said I love you too or I only thought it in my head. The cramp wave goes but it leaves me exhausted. The distance to the bed from the desk is impossible and I thank God for a carpeted floor.
I sink down into it. I need to lie down. It doesn’t matter where. As my head touched the carpet, memories flood my senses of when I first found out.
Less than three months earlier. I was sitting on the uncomfortable chairs in the waiting room. I had been throwing up but I thought it was a stomach bug. I told Dennis I might need to see a Doctor but it was nothing serious so when he had asked whether I needed him to go with me I brushed his concerns away.
“Cynthia Njoki” The voice broke a pathway through my thoughts, stunning me into comprehension. I looked up and saw the lady in a white jacket with perfect white teeth and clear white eyes smiling at me. I couldn’t help thinking, as I followed her into her office that if medicine ever failed, modeling could work out brilliantly for this woman with long lean legs that seemed to glide over the hospital floors in her polished heels.
We sat down. “So what seems to be the problem today,” she looked briefly at the file as if for confirmation “Cynthia? Yes?”
I nodded my head, silently wondering why she needed confirmation when she had obviously just called my name less than two minutes ago in the waiting room. “Well, I’ve just been feeling under the weather lately. Throwing up, fatigue, and loss of appetite so I thought I should just check it out to be safe.”
“Hmmm, and when was the last time you had your period?”
“Well my period is quite irregular. I’m one of those people who have it twice in a month sometimes, and not for two months other times.”
“Okay, have you eaten anything strange or funny recently?”
“It’s possible, though not that I can remember.”
The doctor finally looked up from my file, “Okay, how about we do some blood tests just confirm it is not an infection and then we can proceed from there?”
I just want to know what’s wrong. “Sounds fine to me.”
Thirty long minutes later I put the magazine where I was reading an interesting article on African actors not getting credit due unless they acted in a slave movie, down as my name was called again. This time the doctor seemed to have a mischievous glint in her eyes as she shut the door behind us.
“Well, Cynthia I have news. You don’t have an infection. Well, you do but a slight one that isn’t the cause of what you have been experiencing.”
“Ohh? Okay…” My expression greeted her in confusion… “So you don’t know what the problem is?”
“Quite the contrary. To put it simply, you are pregnant! This is why you have been experiencing all these symptoms. Generally new mothers…”
I zoned out, missing the rest of the conversation. This couldn’t be true could it? This would be the second time. We had hoped but not dared to expect. The last time had been traumatic enough. Dennis had been my rock. But after the baby was born dead it had nearly broken the very core of who I was. It had nearly broken us.
I unconsciously touched my stomach. There was life inside of me. Even though I was scared the anticipation started to build. I began thinking of ways I would break the news to Dennis. I had always known he would make a great father, from the first time I saw him playing with his nieces and nephews. I knew it was meant to be a part of his legacy. I always felt unworthy to receive the honor of being the one who was going to give him this opportunity; of watching him become a father.
“Cynthia, are you listening?” The doctor pursed her lips in what was intended to be a frown but ended up looking like a failed duck face attempt. “What I was saying was, I have seen your, uhh, history, with… ahem… childbirth. I am so sorry for your loss. But because of that we have to be extra careful with this pregnancy. You cannot be involved in any strenuous activity whatsoever. You must rest continuously. And you must come in for frequent check-ups, understood?”
I nodded my head with eager excitement. I wouldn’t have to be told twice to do everything in my power to protect this baby.
On the way home, in the car I couldn’t wait. I dialed Dennis’ number. “Hey babe, I have a surprise. Come home early.”
“Ohh surprise?” He said in a suggestive tone, “I like surprises. In fact I can do surprises all night. Actually I might surprise you as well… me and junior have been practicing”
I laughed, “Practicing on whom exactly? Mr. Dennis Njoki do you have a side dish I should be concerned about? I don’t want any mpango wa kando coming to claim my inheritance when you die or I will come and pull you up from the grave. Understood? ”
“Hey hey, okay. Sheish, woman. If all you are after is my money why do I go to the gym to maintain this body?”
“Because my sponsor must also have a body of fire.” I laugh and try to get us back on topic, “anyway, babe for real come home early.” He agrees and hangs up. I love this about our relationship, the sexy banter back and forth that doesn’t seem to die. Through hella ups and downs, four years of being together, we’re not the old boring married couple yet.
Dinner is ready. It’s seven thirty, I’m just about to call Dennis and give him a lecture for being late when I hear his car downstairs in the parking. My heart doesn’t skip a beat but it does this funny little thing whenever I am excited to see him. Now even more that I have this exciting bit of info to share.
He climbs up the apartment stairs to our floor and before he even gets a chance to ring the doorbell I open the door with my hips, hands out to hug this hunk of a man who is mine.
“Hey bebe” He teases me before planting a kiss on my face. “So what is this big surprise about? I’ve hardly been able to get any work done today because of your call.”
“Well come in, put you stuff down, and sit for dinner first and you’ll see.”
“Babe please pray for the food.” I say as he sits down.
“Lord thank you for my woman who spoils me with this amazing cooking and for giving us each other. If that is all we have in this life it is enough. Amen”
I smile at him, “Did anyone ever tell you, you are a bit of a romantic?”
He snorts, “Says the woman who has made a full fancy ass restaurant dinner, with serving covers and anything. I don’t know where to start but it all smells amazing.”
“How about uanze na hiyo?” I point at the covered plate that I want him to open first.
“Whatever my lady requests.” He takes off the cover of the plate and picks up the white stick with a positive sign on the clear window like box at its tip. “Wait what?” he stares at me in confusion. I know the exact moment understanding dawns on him. I can’t help the excitement that bubbles out of me.
“You are going to be a father! I am going to be a mother! We are going to be parents! It’s going to work out this time, I can feel it.” I laugh. He tries to hide it but he cries, well cries may be an exaggeration but wetness visibly shows at the corners of his eyes. “Babe, say something.”
He grabs me and kisses me. The kind of kiss that made me fall in love with him. “You already have the love for one who never got to be flowing in you. As a mother I know you are going to be exquisite because you will love for two.”
The tears start to form. For him, for me, for us, this baby shall be…
“Cynthia, Cynthia” I hear the faint calls of my name as I try to lift my head off the floor. “Cynthia I’m coming in.” there is a loud noise before Emily’s face appears in my line of vision, somewhat blurry. She bends down to be level with me.
“Cynthia, can you speak? What happened?”
I shake my head trying to clear the ever present haze of confusion. I was hoping it was a dream, I was hoping none of this was real. I wouldn’t know how to move on from this point if it was not. I pull up my nightdress and touch between my legs. My hand comes out maroon with the stain of drying blood.
The cold stillness of realization hits me. Why does my body betray me? Why do my dreams of holding a baby in my arms turn into nightmares? My womb betrays the skin in which it maintains its being. “I lost the baby” I whisper softly to Emily before I am overtaken by a final wave of intense pain and I faint.