By Dr. Kilani Al- Hassan Bo Taiwo
It was dusk already and I was about leaving the consulting room for the call room. My last patient left about thirty minutes ago but I had to document my clerking. I hoped it would be a quiet call. A shadow at the door made me raise my head, at the door stood a lady. I took in her slightly puffy but still pretty face as she advanced in to the consulting room. She was a petite woman. Halfway to my desk she raised a handkerchief to her mouth and turned her mouth away from me for some seconds, that was when I noticed the “tummy”. A spitting woman with a distended abdomen.
“I’m sorry, doctor,” she said shyly.
“Sit down, madam.” I said gently, remembering my wife who was in her seventh month too.
“What is the matter, Madam?” I said realizing that I was yet to have her case folder.
She stared at the floor for a while as quiet sobs emanated from her, wracking her delicate frame. I wondered why a pregnant woman would be by herself and on noticing the sobs had stopped I ventured,
“Where is your husband?”
She was about breaking in to another round of tears when an inner strength seemed to take over. She fought back the tears and answered in a slightly steady but emotional voice,
“He is at home.”
She must have seen the incredulous look on my face and it got her smiling, realizing the effect it was having I exaggerated it and it actually got her laughing. She had good dentition and a good laughter.
“This is the first time I am laughing in the last 6 months,” she said, still spotting a beatific smile but in her eyes I could see the sadness looming.
“Why is that, Madam?”
“It is a long story, doctor. But then, that is why I am here.”
“Okay, Madam tell me about it,” I replied. And so she told me.
She was a 33 year old unemployed lady married to a 36 year old freshly-employed man. They got married 6years ago when she got pregnant just after graduation from the university. Christianity prevented them from aborting so they got married to avoid the consequent stigma of pregnancy outside wedlock. Nine months after, she gave birth to a baby girl. But three months after, she got pregnant again while still breastfeeding. She couldn’t believe it. The pregnancy test confirmed her greatest fear as she was frequently coming down with morning sickness. She was devastated or rather the couples were.This time around their faith was not strong enough, they aborted the pregnancy.
Two years ago, her husband landed a well paying job and things got better. Suddenly, he realized they needed another baby, especially a male. She was still feeling bad about the last abortion, most especially because her husband had prevailed on her. She had truly not been against the abortion but had to go along anyways as they could hardly feed themselves. So now that things had gotten better they stopped using condoms and began the quest of making another baby. After about 8 months, her husband’s agitation became really unbearable and led to fights on more than one occasion. She also became very worried and more than once blamed herself for agreeing to the abortion she had. She believed God was punishing her for her sins.
She soon noticed her breasts were getting fuller and she was getting sickly on most mornings. This was when she realized she had missed her period for 2 months. She was overjoyed as was her husband. He urged her to visit the hospital so as to register for Ante natal care. And that was the beginning of her troubles.