By Sola Ogundipe
Biola’s reaction upon seeing the positive result on the pregnancy test was spontaneous. She was elated, to say the least. But again she was anxious. Could she go through it all again? This was her fourth pregnancy after three early miscarriages, and she had all but given up hope after the third one. Miscarriage is such a personal experience and it affects people differently, but Biola was a fighter.
When she got pregnant the first time, Biola was so naive and ignorant about everything. She thought the doctors would want to take care of her. But when she started spotting in the seventh week and called the doctor’s office and they told her to wait a week and come back if she was still pregnant, she was devastated.
No one told her that having a miscarriage could be painful, and she sent Olu, her husband, away on an all day trip with his friends and suffered through horrible cramps by herself.
Viola later found a new doctor who checked her out and was encouraged to try again. But when she got pregnant right away and lost the pregnancy just as quickly, her devastation returned. No heartbeat was found on the ultrasound at six and a half weeks and she had heavy bleeding. Her doctor reassured her that this was probably just due to bad luck and encouraged the couple to try again.
During this time, Biola also suffered two other losses. Her pet dog died of cancer. She also suffered a humiliating rejection at work. A proposal she spent a year working on was rejected by two very insulting referees. Biola had nothing to show for her effort.
Then she got pregnant a third time. As she later narrated to a friend: “I believed my doctor when she said the previous miscarriages were bad luck and I was ready for a new start. At the six and a half week mark, I went in for an ultrasound and no heartbeat was found. They told me that it was still early and to come back in a week to see.”
As luck would have it, Biola had to spend that week at a meeting in another town, so she did not get back to the ultrasound until eight and a half weeks. What an agonizing two weeks! Again, no heartbeat was found. She waited to miscarry on her own, but after two and a half weeks nothing happened and she had a D&C scheduled.
She recalled: “I couldn’t take the waiting any longer – especially since I still had all my pregnancy symptoms. Part of the reason this one was so devastating is that I thought I did everything ‘right’. I got plenty of sleep, ate incredibly well, didn’t dye my hair, cut out all caffeine and any other possible contaminant I could think of. I felt like I had no control at all.”
The couple even decided to get a new dog to bring some joy back into their lives. Incredibly, this dog immediately got sick and almost died and was in the vet hospital for two days while Biola had her D&C. “I felt like giving up on everything. I taught my classes and then went home right away. I did no committee work, I did no special preps for my classes, and I certainly did no research. I could barely drag through each day,” she remarked.
Biola went online. Luckily, she found some help and comfort there. She learned a lot about miscarriage and was reassured to learn about other women who went through what she did (or worse) and eventually had a baby.
After a long spell, her doctor finally scheduled tests for and nothing was found as a cause for the miscarriages. As Biola later recounted, she was convinced that it was due to her age. ‘I was 37 and figured I missed my chance to have a baby. I must have waited too long. When I finally saw a specialist, she told me there was very little she could do for me. I got to know that if my period was a week late, it was probably because I was pregnant and not because of the HSG test I had the month before”
She thought back over the previous months and the only time she could recall she and her husband had sexual intercourse was on Christmas Eve, which was about three weeks previously. Finally, they had their own little Christmas miracle.
Biola still does not believe that things “happen for a reason that only God knows”, or that people are not given more than they can handle. Her belief is that sometimes, life is just rotten. “What I did learn is that when things got too overwhelming for me to deal with, I had to just shut down and concentrate on breathing, sleeping, eating and just being alive. I had seen that a few years before when my sister’s husband died. It really helped me to ignore the rest of the world for awhile.”
However, knowing she was pregnant again brought her back to reality. The 6.5 week ultrasound was coming up and she had panic attacks just thinking of it. Biola had nightmares, including one where she was at the ultrasound and the laboratory technician said there was nothing there and showed her an empty container.
In her dream she was so furious that she threw it across the room in anger. She told her sister about this dream and her sister gave her a special coin with a woman and her baby on it. She wanted Biola to know that this time the container had something in it. “I carried it in my pocket throughout the pregnancy for luck and as a sort of touchstone, she noted.
On the morning of the real ultrasound appointment, Biola couldn’t calm down and ended up spitting everything she tried to eat or drink across the kitchen. When she lay down on the table and looked at the ultrasound window, she could tell right off that there was something there this time. She recalled how the technician picked up a heartbeat and played it out loud for all to hear. “I couldn’t believe it and still get teary just thinking about it. I had spotting in weeks eight and 12 and was convinced it was all over.”
Biola didn’t particularly feel confident about the pregnancy until sometime around week 20 after several ultrasounds and amniocentesis. Olu got a baby heartbeat monitor and used it every day. “Yup, she’s still there,” he would say each morning.” Biola absolutely loved finding out that the baby was a girl.
A boy would have been terrific, too, of course, she thought, but loved knowing something concrete about the baby. It helped her believe that this one would make it. It was around week 20 that she also felt the first movements – how wonderful they were. By this time Biola had also made several friends through the internet. They helped her so much
The innocence of the first pregnancy never did come back and the previous miscarriages affected her throughout this latest pregnancy, including her decisions about labour and delivery.
Biola was still afraid of everything, so she opted to not have any medication and didn’t induce – even when she was 11 days late.
“I went through labour and even got to pushing, but with no baby to show for it. After five hours of pushing I was losing strength and she hadn’t moved at all in an hour or two. I started to panic and think I’d lose my baby after coming so far, so I opted for a Caesarean Section. I just had to have my baby in my arms,” she said.
Very shortly thereafter, Remilekun, the much-awaited baby arrived. Her cries were so beautiful and Biola herself just cried and laughed to hear and see her baby girl. She knew that being born brought no guarantees, but since Remi arrived, Biola has not worried as much as she did in pregnancy.