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‘The days ran a bit too fast abi Boye?’ I asked as the flight attendant announced that we were about to take off.
‘Yeah they did,’ she replied, closing her eyes.
Something about her was different. It started the morning after our reconciliation. She seemed lethargic, angry and bothered. Perhaps I was naïve to have imagined everything would just go back to normal, I thought, looking at her taut face. There was something distant about her. The sex on our reconciliation night had been more than great but that too had changed afterwards. It became almost clinical. She would always insist that we do the missionary and that I stay in for a few minutes after climax. She would also refuse to clean up, preferring to lie there on her back with her hips wide apart.
It was weird especially since she would only give an indulgent smile whenever I asked. My confusion brought about a lot of ‘what ifs’. What if she was being too desperate to get pregnant, which of course would be my fault? What if she was finally beginning to get angry about what happened between Bisade and I?
The words of an old friend kept coming to mind. He believed the worst set of people were those who forgave too easily and too early. He believed most of them never truly forgave but were merely trying to push the grievances to the deeper recesses of their mind. He would go on to say that such people were not only dangerous but also capable of revenge when the anger finally comes to fore.
I glanced away, a sudden fear enveloping my mind. What if she hasn’t forgiven me?
Somehow I felt constantly drained. The strange thing was I loved feeling like that. My emotions were out of balance or should I say my hormones suddenly had a mind of their own. Could one possibly feel symptoms of a four-day-old pregnancy? I couldn’t help wondering. At least it was only four days since we had our first unprotected sex as a married couple so if I was pregnant it couldn’t be more than four days old. Why then did I feel pregnant and what did it even mean to feel pregnant, I mused.
Common sense told me I couldn’t possibly be exhibiting symptoms so early. The last time I was pregnant, I didn’t even know for two months so how could I know in four days? Still, I enjoyed the feeling. I wanted to share it with Jite but somehow I knew he wouldn’t get it and I believed his negativity could jinx my pregnancy. I was not even sure if I could call it pregnancy yet. Anyone could easily dismiss it. I could imagine Jite saying he didn’t agree that my stomach was a tad bigger and that he didn’t think the lightheadedness I felt could have anything to do with pregnancy. I was sure he would also disagree that my palms were pale and so I kept shut.
There was a lot to think about and that worsened my sour demeanour. I still didn’t know who Skipper was although I had a strong suspicion that it had to be Bisade. I had thought it interesting that there was no contact named Bisade or Abisade or anything similar on Jite’s phone. There was also Boladale…and the fact that I wanted to deal with her. For that I had an idea; let her stew for a few weeks, talk to her and pretend I was okay with her pregnancy, get her to tell me the identity of the colleague and take it from there.
I was certain Omoboye’s behaviour couldn’t be normal but I didn’t know anywhere else to seek help except Google. It was three weeks since we returned from our honeymoon and things seemed to be going from bad to worse. She walked around the house like she was carrying a three-month pregnancy; she was even spitting, constantly rubbing her stomach and throwing up. That should be normal and exciting, only I think it is weird considering she had her monthly period a week after we got back – something she had been quite determined to hide from me.
That too wouldn’t have been too strange if not for how it happened. I had wanted to make love to her; she had been quite unresponsive and had said she was tired. I asked if she was on her period and she had denied it. I couldn’t sleep for a long time after that. I had felt it while touching her – I had felt the sanitary pad. I had enough experience with women to know it when I touched it so why would she lie about that? I had then watched her closely for the next two days and discovered she was truly menstruating and was intentionally doing all she could to hide it. That was a grave cause for concern.
I would be the happiest man alive if it turned out she was pregnant but her behaviour was disturbing. My fears grew after I asked her to take a pregnancy test and she declined.
I kept wondering if she felt she needed to fake a pregnancy. I decided it was best to do some research to help me understand what was happening and so I turned to Google.
‘Can a married woman fake a pregnancy? Having symptoms but menstruating and insisting on not taking a pregnancy test.’
I knew the words were too long but I was hoping someone somewhere would have had a reason to ask a similar question. Typical of Google, there were so many links to open. I opened all the links on the first page. As I hoped, there were lots of people who had asked similar questions. There were web sites where people tried to answer those questions. I read through almost every answer and considered most of them useless until I saw a particular one in response to a question about a woman faking a pregnancy.
‘I think she may be somatizing. She is probably desperate for a child and the emotional upheaval is getting to her. It might not be that she is faking it. It’s a disorder kind of. See a doctor to understand it better.’
There was something intriguing about the word ‘Somatizing’. I had no idea what it meant but I was sure Google could help.
It was the third week since we got back from Zanzibar and I believed my stomach was getting bigger although Jite didn’t think so. He wanted me to do a test so we could confirm if I was pregnant or not. Truth is I was scared to do the test because I was afraid it could turn out negative. My period started a week after we got back but I didn’t tell Jite. I didn’t want him to tell me what I already feared; that I may not be pregnant. I liked to think that I was one of the few women who still menstruated during pregnancy.
Somehow I knew I wasn’t pregnant yet I loved walking like I was pregnant, turning my face up at almost everything from the aroma of fried beef to the scent of Jite’s perfume. He looked confused most of the time and would bury his head in his iPad. Sometimes I would wonder if I was scaring him or if he thought I was developing a mental illness. He would look at me when he thought I wasn’t taking notice and it was not the lover’s look. It was a look of concern or alarm. He didn’t talk about his feelings, the same way I haven’t talked about Skipper. There were times we would be sitting together and he would walk away to make or receive calls. I would trail him with my eyes and later check his phone to see who the caller was. I was never really surprised to realize it was Skipper yet I didn’t ask him. I still tried hard to bring the memory of who Skipper was to fore, but it remained elusive. I could have asked him, but I didn’t.
I wasn’t prepared for what somatization turned out to be. After four hours of going over several articles, I was sufficiently scared. Who knew words like somatization even existed? Yet it was the only thing that explained Omoboye’s behaviour. After reading some of the articles I was left in no doubt that my wife was not pregnant and she wasn’t faking the symptoms either. She was having them quite alright, only it was her mind that was making them happen and not her body.
According to Google, somatization is when you exhibit physical reactions to illnesses that do not exist medically. I didn’t really get alarmed until I saw something about ’undifferentiated somatoform disorder’ and one of the examples listed was pregnancy symptoms. It made sense; she was anxious about being pregnant, desperate even. She was gaining weight, throwing up, and eating excessively. She looked pale, still had her period and was refusing to take a test. It had to be the undifferentiated somatoform disorder. I was sure of that after four hours of web surfing. The trouble was, how did I go about getting help for her?
The treatment described was even scarier and sounded long term but I believed she would be fine if she could talk to a psychiatrist. I wasn’t sure there were good psychiatrists in Nigeria, so I did some research on that and I got the information I needed on the website of a high brow hospital in Lagos. Two more issues remained: One I would have to ask Mom for financial help. Secondly, I didn’t know how to tell Omoboye I believed she might have a mental disorder.
From what I read I knew I could also help her psychologically. I knew it could be because she felt pressured to get pregnant so she could make us both forget about the baby that was aborted. I knew I had to find a way to allay her fears. I had to find a way to make her relax. I decided I needed to assure her that I would still love her even if we didn’t have children.
‘Baby, I noticed you have not been feeling well. Don’t you think we should see a doctor?’ It was a lovely morning and Jite was driving me to my makeup studio.
‘I’m fine Jite; there is no need for that,’ I replied.
‘You are not fine ooo Boye. You keep throwing up. If not that I’m hoping you are not pregnant yet I would have said you were pregnant.’
‘You are hoping I am not pregnant? That’s so good to hear coming from the man who almost chopped my head off for aborting a pregnancy.’
‘I mean it Omoboye. I would like for us to have a whole year to ourselves. No pregnancy, no children. I mean we could use this first year as a honeymoon period, just fun, no stress. Do you get my point?’
‘No Jite, I don’t get your point. In fact I don’t know what you are talking about. If you really believe that why am I just hearing about it? Why have we been making love all this while without protection? And don’t even tell me that was why you used protection on our wedding night because we both know that wasn’t why.’
‘Okay, Omoboye, I agree it’s a recent thought. I have been doing a lot of reading and I have realized there are usually a lot of issues in the first year of marriage and somehow children add some sort of complications. We are going through a lot already; imagine how it would be when you are pregnant. You know those hormones and all will only make things worse. Then giving birth again would bring a new kind of stress, we would be parents and somehow lose an intimacy we are still trying to find.’
‘Jite, I know all that, but don’t you think this is coming too late? What if I am already pregnant?’
‘Baby we can find out,’ he replied. ‘I think you should do a test.’
‘No, Jite. I am not ready for that. Let’s drop this issue. We will talk about it later,’ I replied, busying myself with my phone.
Wonders they say will never end. The same Jite who was so sad about losing an unborn baby he almost drove me to depression! Why can’t I believe this newfound theory?
A crazy thought entered my head; perhaps Bisade was pregnant already and he was hoping I wouldn’t get pregnant so he could divorce me after a while. Was he using something, I wondered, remembering an article I once read about hormonal birth control pills used by men. Could Jite be using such? Was that why I hadn’t gotten pregnant yet? My heart pounded.
‘Jite is Bisade pregnant?’ I asked before I could stop myself.