I didn’t see my baby after the Caesarian. My sedated state made it impossible to do that.
After the procedure, the baby was taken from the operating theatre and brought to the nursery. I was told I would not see my miracle until I was able to sit up in bed.
I was afraid I might not recognise my baby.
To see my baby, I had to wait out the effects of the sedatives. I felt numbed and hungover. Also, my mobility was restricted and hampered by the stitches and swelling around my lower abdomen.
The stitches ran across my waistline, three inches below the navel.
The hospital didn’t provide a cot like it did in the past. It would be uncomfortable to sleep on the hospital bed with a baby.
I overheard the doctor say I had a baby boy, my own Caesar, my King Boss. Then, the sedatives kicked in again. I went into a semi-consciousness and eventually fell asleep.
I remember hearing the anaesthetist call me by name and saying the procedure was over and I’d be moved from the theatre back to the ward.
"Mary, yu stap isi tasol. Bai mipla muvim yu go lo troli." I could hear him clearly, my eyes still closed. I understood what he said. I didn't move.
I was on a stretcher on the operating table. The nursing attendants moved me to the hospital trolley.
Then I remember waking up drowsy, a hospital sheet over my nakedness. I paid no attention to the how and what of my situation.
“Mary, bai yu kisim pikinini man,” Mama told me when I mentioned the frequent kicks and bumps during my last trimester.
“Mama, hau yu save?”
“Ha, pikinini meri! … Mi mama ya … Mi save.” And she gave me a wink.
The adage, mother knows best, sprang to mind. I smiled. Who else would be the dictionary and text book of child-bearing but my Mama.
My good ‘ol Mama.
The sedatives took time to wear off. I just wanted to sleep.
I heard the nurses come and go as I drifted between sleep and awareness.
Then I heard a nurse, maybe from the nursery, ask me for nappies and blankets. I opened my eyes and saw curtains around me. Tenk yu.
Despite my state, I comprehended what she was saying. I told her where to look.
Between sleep and wakefulness, I completely forgot my baby. Not knowing when this drowsiness would end irritated me.
The sedatives were strong and lasted the whole day. I didn’t fully recover until the evening of the day after the operation.
When I woke up, I saw the tubes in my left wrist. My arm was swollen.
My face was swollen and puffy. It felt like a water balloon. My legs were swollen. Looked like stage two elephantiasis.
I was scared on the day of the Caesar. Who wouldn't be? It’s hard enough going through labour without having your baby cut from you.
Mama couldn’t come but I had sister-in-law with me. Mama had her reason.
A family friend of Mama came over to pray with me before the nurses came. Before she left, she read Psalm 139 and I felt better.
I praise You, because I am
fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works!
My very self You know.
My bones are not hidden from You,
when I was made in the secret place,
Fashioned in the depths of the earth.
I meditated on this Psalm. I thought of God. This sacred duty confronted me.
I thought of Mama, God’s handmaiden.
What was it like for Mama when I was cradled in her secret and sacred place?
I was prepped for the operation in the maternity ward. From there I was wheeled to the theatre.
The bright ceiling lights burned my eyes. I closed them and thought about God and the unknown. A strange calmness came over me.
Then I saw a vision. I saw my Mama. She was on her sick bed. Her rosary beads in her hands. Her moving lips in mute prayer. But the words came out freely.
Hail Mary, full of Grace
The Lord is with You
Blessed are You among Women
and Blessed is the Fruit
of Your Womb Jesus
I knew Mama was keeping me in her thoughts and prayers all this time in spite of her own sickness.
I saw four people in the room.
The anesthetician, two nursing attendants, the woman doctor.
I closed my eyes and listened to the room. I listened to movement. I listened to the feet around me.
Then I heard a man's voice telling me to breathe. I did what I was told.
"Gutpla … Breathe in, breathe out ... Breathe in, breathe out ... Em nau, wokim olsem ...," he reassured.
He had the oxygen mask pressed to my nose and mouth.
I was anxious and couldn’t tell if the sleep was working. I didn’t know what else to do. Then I heard myself talking. My mind was talking and panicking.
"This is not going to work ... I am still awake ... How will I know when I sleep?"
But you don't feel yourself go to sleep on the operating table in the operating room.