By Ekene Onu
A little over three years ago, I stood in front of my bathroom mirror, looked down at my hand and promised myself and God that I would testify. Since then, I have several times. And each time it touches someone. Today, I feel called upon to share this story one more time.
When my husband and I knew that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together, the only thing we wanted as much as being together was the gift of a child. And when I got pregnant shortly after we were married, we were happy. Well, he was happy. I was ecstatic. I immediately called the doctor. I was a little exasperated when the receptionist told me very matter-of-factly that it would be six weeks before she could fit me in. I stared at the phone; perhaps she had not heard me right. I was with child. Surely I was more important than all those pap smears and whatever else. Nonetheless I was to wait six weeks.
I went to my confirmation appointment sans my husband, who was working at fever pitch on a project. This was fine; I knew the visit would be routine. It was: Pee here, arm here, feet in these stirrups. The doctor hemmed and hawed her bedside manner left much to be desired. Finally she asked me to get dressed and come into her office.
She had some concerns. My Hcg level wasn't where it should have been and she wanted to do an ultrasound on me right away. I called my husband. I waited. I felt something. They called me for the ultrasound. More hemming and hawing. My husband was on his way. I started to bleed. The doctor said the baby was gone. Just like that.
By the time my husband arrived I was a mess, literally and emotionally. I blamed the doctor, first: She must have done something wrong,” I said when I got back home. But deep down inside, I blamed myself.
I conceived again less than a year later. I looked at the test blankly; my husband saw and acknowledged the two lines. You are pregnant, he said. I said nothing. He took me in his arms. What if it happens again? He held me tight. It won’t.
I insisted on seeing the doctor immediately. A new doctor. Drove an hour out of my way. They said she was the best.
Well, congratulations, she said, smiling. I wasn't. Aren't you happy? she asked. Cautiously optimistic, I replied. Don't worry, she said, patting my hand. Women miscarry all the time and go on to have perfectly healthy babies. I knew that already. I read it on Google. Everything looked good.
A month passed, then two weeks more. Don't tell anyone, I told my husband when I was seven weeks. He did anyway. It'll be fine,” he insisted. “Don't worry. Four more weeks. Three months. Another scheduled ultrasound. My husband stroked my hand as he maneuvered our car in and out of traffic, pushing forward to the doctor’s office. And when we arrived, I put my feet up. This time, I had done my nails. It would be like the movies. I was excited to show the heartbeat. I had seen it the first time. The tech was very chatty. Now, this will be a little cold she said. Pish, posh. I thought, bring it on!
Then she turned the screen away and got very silent. Can we see? I asked. She said it wasn't hospital policy. She would get a doctor for us. She left the room. My heart fluttered; I wished I could hold it still. My husband held my hand, but his face was a mask. Something is wrong, I said. Don't worry, he responded.
Finally, my doctor called us to her office. I'm sorry, she said. Her words came in snippets. I barely heard them. These things happen. There isn't a heartbeat anymore. I can schedule a D&C when you're ready.
I thought I was being stoic. I realized I was weeping only after my husband wiped my tears. He held me close for a while. The doctor left the room, Stay as long as you need, she said. We walked out through the waiting room. A woman smiled at me uncomfortably as she shifted in her chair to accommodate her very obvious pregnancy. I put on my sunglasses.
The whole ride home, I cried. Later, I decided not to do a D&C, thinking maybe the doctor was wrong. I prayed that she was. She was not. I had to leave work early the day it happened. I could barely drive home because of the pain.
I thought I couldn't go through it again. In fact, I didn't want to go through it again. But after a while, the pain dulled and we tried anew. Nothing happened. For a year. Nothing. Finally, I made an appointment with yet another doctor. She was a sistah made me feel at ease with her girlfriend! manner. I told her nothing was happening. She looked at my chart and then she looked at me. “Are you having sex?” she asked. “Uh yeah, which is why I would have expectations,” I responded. She laughed. Believe me, it is not a strange question! I laughed. Six more months. That’s how much more time she wanted me to give it. I agreed. I trusted her.
My period was due two days later. It never came. Two more weeks passed, and still no period. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to get my hopes up with a pregnancy test, but I bought one anyway. It showed up immediately: I was pregnant.
And all the fears and the doubts came flooding in. I held up my hand. No, not this time! I walked to my bed and I knelt down and I told God, that this time I would testify I would tell people how He had given me a gift. I would pray this baby through. I spent the next hour praising God and thanking Him. I would testify, I determined. Then I called my husband.
I gave birth to Sina in 2005.
She is a perfect child.
And I testify as often as I have an audience.
This is my testimony to you.
Ekene Onu is a speaker, lifestyle coach and author of the inspirational book, “Can I Be Real.” When she isn’t giving her uber popular, tell-it-like-it-is styled self-empowerment workshops for African women across the Diaspora, she is serving as creative director of NouveauAfricana.com, which she founded, and working as the editor and principal writer for Ekeneonline.com.