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THE FINAL LAP BEGINS

Our darling daughter Ayinza,

Round about this time (2 am, 28th June 2019) last year, your mother’s water broke. It had been a very hectic time for me the day before. You see, one of your many jjajjas was ill and we decided we needed to visit him. Because your due date was the 4th of July and there was no way I was going to be travelling when you had arrived, we figured doing it before was probably our best chance of doing it at all. And so, at 4 am on the 27th, I got onto a bus, took the 4.5-hour journey to London and saw your jjajja. He was in great spirits, even though in pain. We chatted for about 3 hours or so and then I was back on a bus to your mother and you. Because the next available bus was at about 5 pm, I ended up arriving home towards 11 pm. All the while, I had prayed to God, asking Him to tell you to keep in mummy’s belly and not get any cheeky ideas…at least not until I was home with her. That same day, your mother attended her last antenatal check-up. It was the only one I was unable to attend with her and I was already feeling bad about it. So you coming when I wasn’t around would have been really really unfun! So when I finally made it home and your only mischief were a few kicks here and there, I was glad.

But the next day, I was supposed to have a meeting with my supervisors about my PhD progress. So after eating and seeing your mother off to bed, I stayed up to put some final touches to a chapter I had been writing.

At about 2 am, I heard your mother call my name from the bedroom.

I jumped up and ran to her, my mind trying to choose between a mischievous rat or a bad dream as possible reasons for her calling me.

It was neither.

“My water has broken,” she said.

She didn’t have to say it. I saw it everywhere. My heart skipped a bit. And then it lept.

It was happening!

Your mother, being your mother, was busy trying to clean up! Your father, being your father, was taking photos of the wet bedsheet! Your mother grabbed one of the towels nearby and began pacing up and down the bedroom. I thought it was weird, but figured there was some logic to it and – even if there wasn’t – questioning her was probably not the most brilliant of ideas. After she had done two or so laps, I asked, “What are you doing?”

“Cleaning up,” she said.

I looked at her, towel in hand pacing without doing much. She looked up at me and our eyes locked. It was funny. Really funny. But I couldn’t laugh. Not now anyway.

“Let me call the cab,” I said.

“Wait, we have to call the hospital first,” she said.

I was already on it. I called them. The nurse on the other end was polite and calm. I was excited, animated and probably rude.

“We are registered to give birth there and our water has broken,” I said

“Your wife’s water has broken?” she asked

“Yes,” I said, irritated

“What’s your address?”

I told her.

“Your wife’s first name”

I told her.

“How much water was it?”

“Umm….a lot. I have pictures of it!”

“Okay. I probably wouldn’t be able to tell much from them but do bring them along when you come,”

Then why did you ask, I wondered.

“What colour was the water?”

At this point, I was getting frustrated. Mostly because I didn’t know why she was asking all these questions, but also because I wasn’t the best person to be answering them. But I didn’t know that at the time. And I was determined to. So I kept giving her what I thought were the appropriate answers.

After what seemed like an eternity, she told us they were going to prepare a bed for us and if we could make our way to the hospital in 15min or so, they would be ready for us.

I called the cab.

We didn’t have much to pack. We had prepared our hospital bag two months before. The only things that were missing were the wireless speaker I thought I might need to play your mother her favourite songs, and slippers in case we were to spend a night there. I added the slippers to the bag and completely forgot about the speaker.

Don’t judge your father Netanya. It is both disrespectful and unbiblical.

The taxi arrived sooner than we had thought it would but didn’t drive into the parking lot. Instead, the guy parked along the road, meaning we had to walk through the car park and a little further out.

I was pissed. I don’t know why.

Through all this, your mother was calm on the exterior, but not making much sense in her actions. She spent about 15 seconds looking at the door we had just locked as if there was something we had forgotten. When I asked her what was wrong, she jumped out of her trance and followed me.

“Leeds Infirmary,” I said to the taxi driver once the pleasantries were expended with.

For about two minutes, the car was silent. I held your mother’s hand and she squeezed mine.

“Are you nervous?” she asked

“No. Just excited!” I replied.

She laughed.

When we got to the hospital, the nurse, true to her word was ready for us. After asking a few more questions, she led your mother into an examination room. I wanted to follow but was told I couldn’t.

Sexists!

Before they left, I showed the pictures I had taken. I felt pretty proud of myself.

“Well the photo is of a wet dark blue piece of cloth so I can’t see much from it,” she said, “but don’t worry, you are here now.”

She asked your mother for a urine sample. Then they did a scan. Everything seemed fine. You were in there, sleeping like you hadn’t just caused a stir. They determined that the water was not as clear as it normally is, so you had likely done a poo.

Show off!

That wasn’t necessarily a problem, they explained, but it meant that if you kept in there too long, it would increase the chances of infection both to you and your mother since there was no longer any protective membrane. But we shouldn’t worry about that, they said.

Your mother was given a bed in the general ward and we were told to wait for her to get into labour.

By now, she too was excited. We drew the curtains around our bed and started talking about random things. She asked me if I had alerted anyone in the family. I told her I had. She asked me if I thought you would come soon. I said I did. I asked her how she was feeling, she said she was fine.

A woman a few beds away from us had begun getting her contractions. They were painful and she cussed out loud. She spoke in what I thought was Polish, but I have long learnt that generally, you know a swear word when you hear it, no matter the language. Unless of course, a Mukiga or Russian are speaking. Then, you just assume that every other word is a cussword. You might be wrong, but only by a word or two. Your mother doesn’t speak either, but I was not willing to bet that she wouldn’t follow suit in the hours ahead.

Not too far from her, a mother who had given birth a few moments earlier was holding her child. Standing next to them was a boy that was no more than 5 years old and a lady I assumed was the new mother’s sister or friend. They chatted among themselves, the mother looking like she hadn’t broken any sweat at all. The difference between her and the Polish lady was light and day. I could have chuckled, but I was only one of two males in the room. The other being the boy.

“Do you think it’s a boy or a girl?” I asked.

We had asked each other that question a million times before. But now, it took on a new meaning. It wasn’t some imaginary thought that we were contemplating; you were real. It wasn’t about some time in the future when your mother would be in labour; you were hours away from being in our arms. This time, it felt more intense.

“I don’t know,” your mother responded, “I don’t even care anymore. I just want him or her out of my belly.”

“I think it’s a girl,” I said.

“Ok,” she said.

“But it could be a boy,” I said, hedging my bets.

“Ok,” your mother replied.

I tried to get her to talk, but she was beginning to zone out. Plus, it was now about 4 am. I told her to catch some sleep and I think she tried. But we both knew we were too excited to sleep. Between then and 8 am, very little happened. The nurses kept coming to check on us, but that was just about it. I emailed my supervisors to tell them I probably wasn’t going to be able to make it for the meeting. They wished us all the best.

And then at 8 am the contractions began.

You, my dear, were beginning to make your way out of your mother’s womb and into your father’s arms.

And I couldn’t have been more excited!

This photo is the first we have of you. It was the first time we had laid our eyes on you. Indirectly of course, but still. Then we saw and knew you in part, but soon, we would see you in full. And we would know you and your cry, just as you knew us and our voices.

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”

In you, O daughter of the Most High, we saw Him, even before we saw you.

Nahabwekyo Ramya, ramya Ruhanga waawe.

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Written by Ganzi Isharaza (1)

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