“Just look what you’ve done, ‘Demola. This was supposed to be a simple stop over, so why have they detained me overnight?”
Moyore’s voice was a low drawl, her calm expression utterly uncharacteristic of her reputation as a firebrand. She sighed, crossed and then uncrossed her legs in quick succession, keeping her gaze away from the two men shifting guiltily by her bed.
Ademola rubbed his face tiredly, elbowing the white coated man standing next to him. “Go on, doctor Abiola, it’s your turn this time.”
Dr. Abiola glared at his friend and slowly shook his head. “Moyore, we are just trying to make sure everything is all right. We’ll have the results of the blood tests soon enough and you’ll be free to go. You can’t blame us for making so much fuss, hmm, we all want junior to touch down safely.” Abiola was famous among his friends for the soothing, almost hypnotic quality of his voice and it quickly began working its wonders on his patient. She rolled her eyes, threw Ademola a dirty look and settled back on the hospital bed.
“Fine, but he has to go come back with a change of clothes for me. Also, I haven’t eaten much all day and I want amala…from Okanlawan.”
They winced from the satisfaction in her voice. Okanlawan was the name of one of the most authentic traditional eateries in the city. Moyore was making it clear that her continued stay in the hospital was going to cost her husband.
Ademola arranged his face into an expression of willing servitude, nodding as he moved closer for a hug. “I’ll bring that blue kaba you like.” She stiffened initially at his touch but then relaxed and hugged him back.
Abiola watched them, his expression pleasantly vague as his friend stepped aside. “Alright, I need to make my rounds. I’ll see you in a bit, Moyore.”
They walked out of the room together and Ademola shut the door. “Do you see what I mean?Her pupils are completely dilated and her reaction time is slow. The Moyore I know would never have backed down so easily. I don’t think she’s fully responsive to external stimuli.”
The obstetrician flipped through the pages on the chart, shaking his head as he did. “I don’t know what to tell you. We’ve checked her twice already. Her vitals are fine- blood pressure is somewhat high, but she is heavy. There’s nothing wrong with the baby either. Wo, we don’t want to stress her any more than necessary. Let’s just wait until the lab analysis comes before we start jumping into conclusions. The only reason I’ve detained her is because you are breathing down my neck.”
Ademola rolled his eyes, thrusting a hand in the air for emphasis. “Right, everyone keeps reminding me that I’m not my wife’s doctor.”
His friend chuckled, rubbing his neat beard. “Well, you aren’t. Now I can see why husbands don’t make good obstetricians.”
Ademola dumped his bag on the floor as he walked in, absently flicking the light switch. He glanced at the clock hanging on the wall across the room and shook his head. It was already eight o’clock, and he still had to make the trip for his wife’s dinner. The area was bound to be chaos on a Friday, what with people hitting the many clubs and hot spots. His friends were undoubtedly going to be among that crowd tonight.
There was once a time when he would have raced home just like this, only to change into casual clothes and jet back out. A true Lagosian never sleeps…well except on Sundays. He smiled wryly and made for the bedroom to pack an overnight case for Moyore. The gown she wanted was hanging on the closet knob, as though she had a premonition of her hospital stay.
Packing the bag took Ademola all of ten minutes and then he placed it on the dining table on his way to the kitchen. There wasn’t much in the way of dinner in the fridge- some rice and fish stew- and he didn’t have the appetite for another dinner of leftovers. Moyore’s order was going to be doubled after all. He shut the fridge and was walking away when his eyes caught the soaking pot from breakfast. In the flurry of things, he’d completely forgotten about it. Somehow, the oatmeal he’d prepared managed to still cling to the bottom. His mind stubbornly brought back the details of their argument and he sighed softly.
So much had gone on over the year; they barely had time to even slow down and talk. Ademola remembered a time when all they did was talk- about everything. It all seemed to change the moment he proposed. Life suddenly went on fast forward.
The phone’s piercing shrill jarred him from his thoughts and he reached for it. “Hello.”
“Ade, where are you?”
It took him a moment to recognize the caller and then he realized that it was because Abiola rarely sounded urgent. “I’m at home, just about to leave for Iya yi’s amala.”
“Forget about that man, I need you to get here as quickly as you can.”
Ademola frowned, reaching for the overnight case while he negotiated the phone from ear to ear. “Why, what’s wrong?”
“Her test results just came back in, and you won’t believe it. Her hormone levels- vasopressin, norepinephrine-”
“– You said her blood pressure was high,” he cut in and the other doctor made a sound of assent.
“That’s not the best part. Her oxytocin levels are off the charts and guess what, urine sample showed significant levels of amniotic fluid.”
Ademola shook his head as though they were standing face to face. “What are you trying to say, her water has broken? Come on Abiola we would have noticed something, especially Moyore.”
Abiola made a sound of impatience, another uncharacteristic gesture coming from him. “I’m just telling you what the results say. It is still too early for her body to be producing this much oxytocin.”
Premature labor. They both came to the conclusion at the same time.
He paused and cleared his throat. “She didn’t say anything about contractions and you’d think she would notice if her water broke….”
“She doesn’t know it. Moyore’s not feeling the contractions,” the other doctor finished. Or there were no contractions, the clinical part of his head inserted but he quickly killed that thought.
“I’m having the nurses check her again. If it is what we think it is, then we may have to prep her for the theatre. The baby has possibly been in a hostile environment for hours.”
Ademola dug in his pockets for the car keys. “I’m on my way.”
“ What’s going on?”
Moyore shifted this way and that on the narrow hospital bed, her voice climbing a few octaves in panic. Where had they all come from? She had been trying to rest, after an unsuccessful bid to ignore the noise of activity from the adjacent maternity ward. Although still chafing from husband’s recent actions, at least she didn’t have to suffer the indignity of being surrounded by other women who were ready to give birth. She couldn’t handle that kind of tension.
Suddenly they’d descended on her from all corners, a white clad swarm, armed with all sorts of instruments. One was above Moyore’s head, repeatedly beaming a flash light in her eyes while her cohorts poked and prodded, adding to the pregnant woman’s collections of aches.
“Why are you all here?”
The only reply was a curt order that she stop wiggling around. Moyore bit back the urge to retort, instinctively knowing that it wouldn’t be in her best interest to make them angry. She anxiously peered over their heads for Abiola’s face but he was nowhere to be found.
Why did she surround herself with men who were never around when she needed them? Right then, almost as though in a cosmic response to her question, Ademola walked into the room.
“Ademola!” Moyore reached out a desperate hand and he hastened to her side. “Why isn’t anyone telling me anything?”
Her husband grasped her hand in a tight squeeze. “Ni suru, be patient. They are just doing their jobs. I’m sure Abiola has his reasons for sending them in.”
The nurses continued to hover around them, oblivious to their exchange. One of them casually elbowed him aside to read her blood pressure. Silence descended in the room while she pumped the sphygmomanometer. Moyore’s eyes were riveted on the quivering needle because it held the answers that no one else seemed willing to give. After what seemed like eternity the nurse released the pressure, muttering under her breath as she moved away.
“What? What is it?”
Moyore clung to her sleeve like a lifeline, anxiously tugging her back for a moment before her husband pulled her hand away.
“Moyore…” He began.
She jerked to him and he nearly flinched from the wild expression in her eyes. “What did it say? You’re a doctor—you should know what it said.”
Ademola felt his stomach cramp at her imploring tone. He had indeed seen the blood pressure readings before the nurse moved away and it had sent his heart plunging into his shoes. He took a deep breath and smoothed the errant tendrils of hair sticking to her damp forehead.
Moyore saw his hesitation, read the flickering emotions in his eyes and sat bolt upright, legs frantically spilling over the edge of the bed. “It’s the baby—something is wrong with my baby!”
The doors swung open once again and Abiola walked in. As if on cue, the nurses formed into a single file and marched out of the room. The last of them paused by the door and handed him a chart. He briefly glanced at the pages as he walked to the bed, while Ademola tried to soothe his wife. But when she saw Abiola, she fell silent.
“Abbey, what’s wrong with my baby?”
The words came out softly and both men looked at each other. Abiola set the chart aside. “The test results came in. They are preparing the ultrasound room so we can scan the baby and make sure.”
“Make sure of what?”
The obstetrician took a breath and exhaled it in a gasp. “We believe you are in labor.”
Stunned silence rang along the walls. Moyore turned from one doctor to the other, wondering why her husband refused to meet her eyes. “What do you mean I’m in labor? I’m not due for another two months. Besides, I feel perfectly fine—well at least until a few minutes ago.” Neither of them replied and she nudged her husband. “Tell him ‘Demola.”
Ademola shook his head. “No Moyore. Remember you’ve been complaining of going to the toilet frequently? We think you’ve been in labor since yesterday; you just aren’t feeling your contractions.”
He would have said more but one of the nurses returned, gesturing respectfully to Abiola. “Excuse me, everything is ready now.”
The doctor nodded and turned to his patient. “Oya Moyore, she’ll take you in now.” He smiled faintly and took her hand. “Please try to stay calm and don’t panic. Junior will be all right; we will take very good care of the both of you.’
The nurse moved closer and Moyore accepted her help sitting on the wheel chair she’d dragged in. They slowly moved to the door and then she glanced back just in time to see the two men huddle together by the wall. Ademola looked up and their eyes held for a long moment.