Maima looked up from her notepad and stared into space. Try as she may she couldn’t find the words. A year had passed since that Tuesday morning in September but she could still see it clearly in her mind like it was just yesterday. It was the day she came to accept that her life had been irreversibly changed for good…
Nothing prepared her for this. Maima lay immobile in the hospital bed. She had just started to regain some sensation back in the lower half of her body after a complete loss of feeling due to the spinal anaesthetic she was given for the surgery. While her post-surgery pain was under control, her level of discomfort was almost off the chart. The strain on her back from being stationary for so long was getting so bad she was almost crying. The anaesthesiologist had talked her through her pain management procedure the night before in a bid to prepare her for what to expect but Maima was certain the doctor had left out this bit. She had been advised to stay off her feet to avoid the risk of having a post dural puncture headache [usually associated with regional anaesthetic], especially given her unique condition. She had to lay in bed with as little movement as possible for at least 24hrs after the surgery.
As she lay in bed gingerly inching her body this way and that in an attempt to get comfortable, Maima couldn’t help remembering how terrified she felt just a couple of hours earlier as she stood in the doorway of the operating room. Every cell in her body screamed at her to walk away and request for another option. She had never been so scared in her life as she was when she walked into the OR that morning. When asked if she was ready, she could only manage a nervous laughter in response as she was led into the room and told to lay down on the operating table. For some reason she had chosen to walk in rather than be wheeled into the room. The room was cold and smelled faintly of disinfectant. The surgeon was quite chatty and a little boisterous, but his cheerful demeanour managed to calm her nerves just a bit and she was able to relax on the table. An IV line was placed in her arm. She had been shaved and a catheter placed in her bladder an hour before. The anaesthesiologist smiled down at her from her place at the head of the table as she told Maima to sit up for a minute so she could administer the spinal block. Maima hunched over as she had been shown the night before and braced herself as the cold tip of the needle entered her back.
Not long after she was having difficulty moving her legs as she had started to lose sensation in them. It was time.
Maima closed her eyes briefly and said a silent prayer under her breath. It was a prayer she would repeat over and over throughout the length of the surgery. She tried to gather her thoughts and steady her nerves. Then out of nowhere, her teeth started chattering uncontrollably. She was so cold she was visibly trembling. The anaesthesiologist had warned her that body temperature tends to fall due to the effect of the drugs but still, she had not expected it to be this bad. A nurse noticed the trembling and covered up her torso with a light blanket.
About 10 minutes later, Maima felt a dull pressure and some tugging down below, behind the sterile drapes. That was when she heard it, a sound like no other, and she knew her life would never be the same.
Maima held her breath, the prayer she had been repeating caught in her throat. At first she thought she had imagined the sound. Then she heard it again and this time she felt it too, and the indescribable force of the indescribable feeling felt like a packed punch knocking the wind right out of her. It was as if she had just popped a Limitless Pill and she was seeing clearly for the first time in her life. And yet, quite inexplicably at the same time, she felt like a fine tapestry whose thread had been pulled and she was unravelling, slowly coming undone, slowly falling to pieces. The effect was as unique to her as if it was her very own Kryptonite. It was THE most beautiful sound she would ever hear. It was her baby’s first cry. It was the sound of her child being born.
So each time she heard the cry again and again she died inside and was reborn again and again like the phoenix. But with each rebirth she was made stronger as her heart swelled, and I mean quadrupled in size, with so much love.
Maima wept, overcome with emotions. She couldn’t exactly call it joy. The three letter word just seemed too small to describe how she was feeling. She felt like she was lost at sea and that cry was her compass, guiding her home. So she clung to it like her very existence depended on it.
As the surgeon brought the baby to her side for her to see, Maima was introduced to the one who would now and forever be her reason for being – her new born son.
Back in her room in the hospital, having finally given up on trying to get comfortable, Maima sighed as she looked towards the foot of her bed where her son lay in a crib sound asleep and sucking on his fingers. After what had seemed like an eternity he was finally here. It had been a long nine months of all manner of aches and pains and complications but it had all been worth it. He was here and he was real and he was hers.
Maima’s decision to have a planned c-section had been met with stubborn resistance by her first doctor. Even after she had provided him with medical records to show that a vaginal birth could possibly put her and her baby at risk. He would rather wait for an emergency to occur that would require the c-section. Fortunately, her husband found another doctor at a different hospital who agreed to do the procedure and this had ultimately not only saved her son’s life but possibly hers as well.
The night before the surgery, after the anaesthesiologist had been to see her and she was finally alone in the room, Maima had brought out her old journal. It held her most treasured memories, including the story of how she came to start the adventure of a lifetime that had led to this very moment. She spent the rest of the night reading, reminiscing and reflecting on different significant events from her past. In a way, this was her own way of mentally sorting unfinished businesses and letting herself come to terms with things she could never change, all in preparation for this new adventure she was about to embark on. She didn’t know what to expect from her new life but she was as eager as she was anxious to begin…
Maima brought her attention back to her notepad, then to the sleeping form beside her. A year had passed since that Tuesday morning in September and what a year it had been. Hussein had been the missing piece in their lives, and on top of the immeasurable joy and laughter he had brought into their lives, he had managed to bring them even closer than they had thought possible. It constantly blew her mind how something so small could be so extraordinary, and it had come out of her! By being born he had saved them, given their life new meaning and purpose, and made them better human beings. Maima was in awe of him. Her undying love and appreciation knew no bounds. Mothering him was an honour and a privilege she cherished every single day, and she was grateful for every second she got to spend with him.
To my son, Abdul Jammal Hussein Missa, you were made with love, you were born out of love, you are a physical manifestation of love itself, and you are unconditionally, undeniably, and irrevocably loved. Happy Birthday!