People do not often queue to watch a woman in labour and this includes persons who ordinarily should be part of the process. No matter what your sentiments are on the subject, there is a clear reason. Labour is long, it is messy and life, both the mother’s and the child’s, hang in a precarious balance for a time. Even movies paint such a ridiculously simplistic version of the process that even for the most inexperienced of us, it seems unlikely that the visual on screen matches the narratives we hear in real life. We know that, and yet we still don’t.
Anyone who knows what truly happens, the stages that must be scaled and which cannot be skipped, the detailed measurement of progress and the painstaking commitment towards keeping the process moving no matter how tired the mother is, realises that labour may end with a push, but not necessarily with one. It is also foolish and naïve to assume that because the mother is not required to push just yet, that labour has not commenced.
Creating anything, building anything and changing anything is just like labour. Nigeria often gives us the feeling that since we are not in the final stages with the baby crowning and the doctors and all parties on ground desperate to get through that final run, that labour isn’t ongoing. It is.
For Nigeria labour has been ongoing. The sharp twinges in our sides and backs, the discomfort with every position so that we cannot settle down, the agitation with not being willing or even thinking that we can wait any longer, the keeling over in pain while the pain rips through our bodies, the quick handedness to smack anyone who appears to be misunderstanding how we feel in the moment, the exhaustion with knowing that it is almost done and yet still the minutes seeming to drag into excruciating hours. The not so gentle nudging from everyone else willing you and even daring you to stop and face the consequences of stopping. Your life itself or the life of your child.
Nigeria!!! The baby is on the way, no matter the stage, no matter the pain, there is simply no way back. The price is at least one life, if not two. Mother and baby must survive. The wash of endorphins and the joy swelling afterward is always worth it. If it were not, babies would no longer be born.