“Right, young lady! Are you ready to listen?” Meg, the midwife, appeared into the room and nodded at the bed.
“Yeah, okay that’s fine,” I replied without thinking whilst holding the phone to my ear. My husband was on the other end.
“What? So multi colored is fine? I thought you said you wanted pink and gold?”
“No! I mean yes. Yes, pink and gold.”
“They don’t have gold, ugh!” He lets out a frustrated grunt.
“What’s he saying?” my sister asks.
She is sitting across the hospital room. She came along with me to my appointment so we could continue planning the shower more easily. There was so much to do with very little time to do it. The sun has begun to set and a pink hue pours in from the huge window, filling the room.
“He said they don’t have any gold balloons,”
“Well, get some other colour init,”
“But I wanted pink and gold man,”
“Is this for the baby shower?” Meg looks between my sister and I excitedly, whilst I nod.
“Tell him to check again, I bet he can’t see them,” my sister rolls her eyes.
“Tell her she can come and check for herself then,” my husband says down the phone clearly having heard everything.
“Men can’t seem to find things even when they’re staring at them right in the face,” my sister continues.
“Men! They’re awfully useless,” Meg agrees.
“What the hell. Excuse me, I can hear everything,” I hear in my ear.
I knew it was a bad idea planning a baby shower alongside my husband and sister. Between the two of them, I never quite know who to tell off. Currently, my sister was telling Meg about a recent embarrassing incident with him and a balloon.
“He ordered the huge baby balloons and he was trying to be superman by blowing them without a pump.Then, of course, he started feeling dizzy. We told him to stop but he refused and then he ended up vomiting! Guess where? IN the balloon!”
My sister let out a snort as Meg gasps. They both burst into hysterical laughter.
“It wasn’t IN the balloon, alright. Honestly you lot are so childish,” he sounded super annoyed now.
“Alright you two, stop it now.” I glared at my sister, signaling for her to stop while trying to hold my own laughter in at the same time. Her and my husband were always bickering like children. He didn’t quite understand that she was only 15 and had nothing better to do. Once, in the early months of my pregnancy, I had an appointment and he was meeting us at the hospital. When my sister went to meet him at the entrance of the ward to direct him to my room, she told the midwife he wasn’t the father of the baby. She said she didn’t know who he was as he repeatedly introduced himself. He refused to speak to her for the next couple of days.
“Come on then, I haven’t got all day,” Meg was now standing by the bed with a baby doppler, obviously waiting for me to lie down. “Let me first check your blood pressure and temperature and then we can have a listen to this little princess.”
“Sure thing,” A warm feeling of excitement rushed through me and I quickly ended the call with my husband and went to lie down.
“Have you been feeling baby move?”
“You must have figured out her patterns by now?”
“Oh yeahh, she loves to do gymnastics at around 2am,”
We all laughed. These were all routine questions.
“Wait till she’s here,” Meg’s eyes sparkle as she smiles at me. The arm band begins to tighten and then loud beeping fills the air.
“So when is the baby shower?”
“On Friday,” that was 3 days away.
“Ooh, so all the preps done?”
“Well kind off. The cake has been ordered and I have my outfit – it was such a struggle finding something pretty to wear that would accommodate this bump,” I rolled my eyes.
The machine came to a halt and Meg noted down the numbers on the screen.
“That’s a bit on the high side,” she commented. “Have you been feeling alright today?”
“Well apart from the lack of sleep and throat burning and exhaustion, I’m fiiiiine,” I say.
“Any swelling?” She peers down at my feet.
“Nope, no swelling, No headaches, no vision problems. See, I know the symptoms.”
“Any pain or discomfort?”
“Not really. I had pain around my rib cage but I was told that’s probably because of baby growing, you know,”
“Ah yes. Okay. Let me just nip out and get you some tablets alright?” And she scurried off.
“It’s probably the boiled eggs you ate this morning?” My sister looked at me disapprovingly. “You need to stop that, I read somewhere eggs can have a significant effect on systolic and diastolic blood pressure in adults.”
“Yeah, systolic and diastolic. Where did you read that? Dailymail.com?”
Her fake laughter is interrupted by the ringing of my phone. It’s my mum.
“How is my grandchild? Have you heard her yet? Did she say salaam?” She asks a billion questions in one breath. My mum is probably the most delighted and overjoyed grandmother-to-be ever.
“Not yet mum, in a bit,”
“Okay. Khair inshallah. I’m praying. Inshallah everything goes well. You tell that child to behave and hopefully she doesn’t have long left, she’s going to be joining us soon,”
“I’m praying she will be blessed and beautiful and always guided and protected…”
“Ameen, mum. Thank you,” I say, knowing full well she isn’t finished yet.
“Yes. And tell her to not be afraid. It’s a big bad world out here but there’s no need to be scared, we will all take care of her…”
“Oh my god, mum! Can you like, chill with the TED Talk.”
“And tell her that her grandmother can’t wait…”
“Yes mum, I will pass on all your messages to her. I have to go now,” I say as Meg returns with two tablets in a paper medicine pot and a glass of cold water.
“I swear your parents become something else when they turn into grandparents.” I tell her as she hands me the water.
“It’s true. It’s a whole different kind of love,” Meg confirms.
I swallow down the tablets as my phone rings again.
“I’ve found the gold ones. Can you send me that picture, the balloon guy wants to see,” my husband says, I could hear packages being ripped open and people talking in the background.
“Sure thing, check your WhatsApp,” I say and hang up, as I open my Instagram and search through my saved items for the balloon decor image I had seen several weeks ago. Amongst all the baby related stuff that I had been collecting, from birth and labour info to baby clothes and nutritional posts to baby accessories, there was a lot to scroll through.
“Look Meg, this is the balloon design,” I sent the photo and then turned my phone to show Meg.
She looks a little confused, and peers between me and the mobile screen and adjusts her glasses.
“Oooh now that’s nice. Honestly there’s so many designs and colours, you don’t know what to pick!”
“Init? I couldn’t decide! And don’t even get me started on the cake designs. I saw this cake and it was designed like a baby bump, it’s crazy.”
“Omg. Honestly this social media thing is mad. We have so many new mums coming in and some are panicking because they’ve read something on Instagram or Facebook, and we just keep telling them to calm down!”
“Yes! I’ve come across some really graphic c-section content,” my sister says, pulling out her phone.
“Ummm, no thank you! Don’t show me!” I turn away, knowing full well she will force me to watch it. Meg turns as the door opens and a lady strolls in.
“Hiya, I’m Lucy. I’m a midwife like Meg. We’re going to listen to baby now, is that okay?” She smiles and approaches the bed.
“Yes that’s okay,” I say, sitting up straighter and adjusting my top.
She reaches for the gel and starts to smear it all over my protruding belly whilst Meg untangles the handheld doppler. My sister takes the seat beside the bed and leans forward, excitement all over her face.
It’s the most surreal feeling hearing your baby’s heart from inside your belly. How does that thing breathe and move inside you with such ease and conviction, with such determination and force, as if it’s saying “I’m right here mama.”
I lose myself in my thoughts of the miracle of it all. With every kick and twist the baby announces it’s presence and with it, shines the majesty and might of Our God. All of this happens under His protection and grace. With every heartburn, ache and discomfort I feel comes the realisation of how perfectly He creates and nurtures not just the new baby in the tummy, but the body of the mother. The perfect way that it grows to accommodate and adjust for the new arrival amazes me every time I think about it.
I remember hearing my baby’s heart for the first time months ago. It’s not real until you actually hear the steady beating – the sound of ahe heartbeat that I will forever be connected to.
“Ruqaiyya??” I feel Meg touch my hand and I’m jolted from my thoughts of awe and gratitude. There’s silence in the room. Silence along with the crackling of the Doppler.
“I’m really sorry but there is no heartbeat.”