Posts Tagged ‘epilogue’

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EPILOGUE

The pain is excrutiating. You expect this kind of pain for your first child but I have been through that already. Once you have experienced child birth, you expect subsequent labours to be easier. This is worse than I remember. Sharp stabbing pains shoots assaultingly up my spine, then down again. My entire abdomen goes hard and I hold my breath in instinct only to be scolded by the nurse. “You have to breathe the pain out” she says to me, and I shoot her a murderous look, as a string of profanities come to mind but I am in too much pain to find my voice.
This time my labour is so different. This is not what I remember. The last time I was in the labour ward it felt like a five star holiday. “I want an epidural!” I scream, “Call my doctor” I plead to the back of the nurse as she walks out.
My husband finally makes himself useful and brings me some ice cubes and juice.
“The nurse says that you are five centimeters dilated, it will still be a while”, he says as helpfully as he can. He must feel so useless, I think. He has been hanging around aimlessly and timing my contractions. I think he is in shock. “Maybe you should get some rest” he suggests. I nod. “I will stay here” is his promise as I slip under the covers. He says something else, but I don’t hear him. My body craves sleep and it consumes me immediately.
I am awoken with another sharp pain, and I sit up immediately. The contraction monitor is going crazy, the constant periodic beep is more rapid and louder than I remember. That pain comes back again with avengence, and I freeze unable to move a muscle. The pain feels different, something is wrong. Suddenly the machine sounds an alarm. Before I register what is happening I am surrounded by nurses, frantically checking the machine and then me. There are about five of them now, “what’s wrong?” I ask but I don’t get a reply, “What’s wrong with my baby?” I scream, now frantic, completely forgetting about the pain that paralysed me a minute ago.
“Call the doctor” one of them instructs and shouts out commands to the rest of them, I scream for my husband, and I try to look through the barrage of nurses in front of me.
Suddenly, he is by my side. He has the quraan in his hand.
“hey” he says, stroking my forehead that is wet with perspiration. “The baby’s heartbeat is irregular. They were monitoring it while you were asleep. The nurses were hoping you would dilate quicker” he says. I look at him in disbelief. “They have to do a c-section” he announces. Then before I can say anything, the head nurse shouts for an IV. Then she looks at me, “We need to get you on the gurney, do you need help?”
I shake my head in response and try to move off the bed. Another shooting pain runs through my body and this time I cry. I can’t believe I am crying. The pain is immense but the fear of what could happen is even worse. The bottom half of me feels like it belongs to someone else. The nurses roll me onto the gurney and they rush me out, not before I catch sight of the bed I was sleeping on, stained red with blood.
****
I feel like I have been cut in half and then stitched back together. I would crawl under a rock and disappear if it wasn’t for the little miracle that is swaddled in the crib next to me. I look over at her. She looks different now then she did a few hours ago. Her long fingers are splayed over face so beautifully you would think she was modeling for vogue.
“mummy!” comes a scream from the door. I look up to see miracle number one and Hussain not far behind. Muhammed jumps on to the bed next to me. “Baby out” he says, as he looks at his little sister in wonder. I open my arms and he comes in for a big hug. Hussain goes straight to his daughter and picks her up.
I remember 18 months ago when Hussain held Muhammed for the first time. It was our big moment. Muhammed was the baby we were waiting for, for ten years. The baby that sealed our marriage. Muhammed was the baby that we worked so hard to have. The baby that I endured, invasive scrapings and oestrogen suppliments for. I never thought I would see Hussain as happy as he was that day, until now.
“She has your nose” Hussain says, not looking up. “and your moods” I add sarcastically. “She screamed like crazy when I tried to feed her earlier” I say. He smiles, he seems proud of that.
I couldn’t believe when the doctor told me I was pregnant and not in early menopause, as I suspected. OK I was only 35 but – I heard it happens. After everything I went through to conceive the first time, Getting pregnant by accident was the last thing I thought would happen.
“Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you…” I hear some singing in the corridor and I immediately recognize the voices. I smile. I know who that is.
“Don’t look at us like that?” Hasina says accusingly as she walks in. Then quickly adds – “it was her idea” and points to Jameela next to her. The both come over for hugs and kisses.
“I told mummy that we have to sing for the baby, because it is her birthday” she says seriously. Ahh this girl. She pulls muhammed off me and carries him away. I can’t believe how she has grown.
“How are you feeling?” Hasina asks me now as she sits next to me on the bed. I shake my head. “Im just glad it’s over” I say the memories flooding back. She takes my hand.
“Hussain told me how brave you were” she says. She looks at Hussain and he comes over and presents the new little baby as if it were a first prize trophy. She reaches out and Hussain reluctantly hands the bundle over to her. “Did you ask her?” Hasina asks Hussain as they exchange glances and the baby. He shakes his head. I have no idea what they are talking about.
“Ask me what?” I ask. Hasina takes her time to respond. She fixes the baby’s blanket and shifts her position.
“I told him to ask you about your confinement” – she holds up her hand as I am about to speak – “just wait till I am finished” she says. We have had this discussion before. She began insisting I stay with her after the baby is born months ago. She was over everyday back when Muhammed was born and I thank goodness for that.
“You need to look after yourself now Farnaz, especially now after the C-section.” Hasina begins to reason. “How are you going to do that with Muhammed to see to and a new baby?” I have asked myself that same question earlier. I can hardly bend over now but I am sure I will be ok.
“It will be difficult at first but I will manage” I say. How can I possibly impose on her and her family. The confinement is a big deal in most indian homes where all the women in the family pitch in to help with the new baby and make sure the mother recovers well.
She gives me that look. The baby starts to squirm and she stands up to rock her. “I spoke to Sameera, she is coming this weekend, and Reza and them are trying to get flights.” she says. I smile inwardly at this. My sister and brother seem to have accepted her as part of my life.In fact the last time we were all together you would think Hasina was part of the family. For this I am thankful.
The baby starts to cry. It’s feeding time, I think. Hasina hands her to me. “think about it” she says. I nod, I know her offer is sincere and I know I need her now more than ever.
****
My bags line the wall all the way to the door. I can’t remember having so much stuff for Muhammed. In just four weeks I have managed to collect six bags full of clothes, toys and the essentials.
“Hey”, comes a voice from the door. Hasina walks in with a tray.
“I was going to come down” I say to her embarrassed. I hate her treating me like a guest. “I was just dressing Laikah” I say. My daughter’s name is starting to become part of my vocabulary and is not sounding as strange on my tongue as before.
Hasina puts the tray down. “It’s the last time I can serve you breakfast” she says. As she motions to hand over the baby.
She talks to Laikah, “Aunty Hasina is going to miss you so much my poppy”.
“Is aunty Hasina not going to visit us?” I pretend to ask Laikah myself.
“Of course I will visit” Hasina says, “But it won’t be the same.”
I know what she means. The middle of the night talks while I sit up breast feeding, the extra pair of hands to rock and shake when I just cant do it anymore and the emotional support when I need it.
Theres a knock on the door , “Hasina…” it is Yusuf’s voice. She looks at me and I nod. “Come in” she says. Yusuf walks in takes one look at the bags and laughs.
“Hussain is on the way” he says to me, “ Must I call him and tell him to bring a truck rather” we all laugh. “This” I say, and motion to all the bags, “is your shopoholic wife’s fault”.
“hey!” Hasina defends, “I can’t help it if there is so much of cute girls stuff out there”.
Before I can retort, she instructs Yusuf, “Darling, Start taking the bags down so it’s easy when Hussain gets here”. Yusuf obliges immediately.
“Thank you so much for everything” I say to her when Yusuf leaves. “What?” she asks now pretending to be confused, “wouldn’t you do the same for me?” she asks playfully. “In a heartbeat”, I answer.
***
“Did you bring the salad?” I ask Farnaz. “Of course”, she answers , “That is all I have been eating for the past six months”. I laugh. “I can’t get this baby weight off” she says, as she pops a koeksister in her mouth. She looks at me and we both burst out laughing.
The children are playing on the jungle gym and the men are all braaing the meat on the fire. The Zoo lake is packed today.
“Where is the birthday boy?” Sawliha asks. “Zunaid is buying him ice cream” Farnaz’s mother in law responds. Farnaz rolls her eyes. “Sawls, I feel you sorry when you have kids…” she says. “The way Zunaid spoils Muhammed. He doesn’t want to know me when Zunaid is around”.
Everyone is here today for Muhammed’s birthday – a family fusion at the Zoo lake. Suhail and the very pregnant Rahima, Waseem and his family, Farnaz’s sister in law and mother in law, and Farnaz’s niece.
“How is your paintings, bachoo?” Farnaz’s mother in law asks me. This woman is the reason I look forward to having a daughter in law of my own one day. “Alhamdulillah, Ma” , my kids both call her ma, and so do I.
“Ghorima’s daughter in law said you did one for her entrance hall, and she just loves it.” she looks at her daughter in law, now and says, “It has the ninety nine names of Allah – So Masha Allah”.
I smile gratefully.
“How far are you now?”, Fehmeda asks Rahima. “Six months now” she says glowing. Suhail has been a different person ever since he got married and they both have been on cloud nine since they announced that they were expecting.
My inner Chachima makes a rare appearance. These days she has been busy having a fulfilled life. She looks around satisfied. Bilal chases his cousins up the jungle gym while Muhammed tried to keep up, Jameela is walking around proudly playing mummy to Laikah and showing her off to the other girls in the family.Yusuf ,Suhail, Hussain, and Waseem are huddled around the braai probably trying to remember if they turned the meat already or not. I chuckle at my prediction.
I sit with the rest of the women on a mat on the ground. Converstaion is flowing over each other and the feeling of contentment settles through me. I catch Farnaz’s eye and she winks at me. We are bonded forever, not through blood but through the many little memories like this we will share together. Now. And always.

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