It was a little over a year that the intensity of the nightmares from going through that trauma subsided. I still heard new-born babies crying in the wind normally, but it wasn’t tormenting me as before.
After the procedure I decided on the ‘Injection’ as my contraception which needed to be administered once every three months which suited me just fine, plus it stopped my monthly cycles.
Ken really looked after me, I know he felt it too and the only way he seemed to cope was diving into caring for me and the kids. He was such a good dad, the children screamed in delight every time he put the key in the lock when he came in from work. The first thing he did was drop his keys, take off his jacket and drop to the floor to give them horseback rides. There was always a mad fit of giggles. Everything was great, I guess.
In the summer we’d spend most of our Saturdays down at the local cricket club watching Ken play. I even started making their cricket teas for the players and learnt how to score. Things were hard but we were comfortable and just went with the flow of life.
I went out with Bernell, Toni and Kacee occasionally and Ken went to see his crew every other Friday. It was what kept our sanity and to make us feel we were still young and could have some fun outside our four walls.
The apartment was becoming claustrophobic as the children were getting bigger and accumulating more toys. We decided to go ahead and buy our own house with the help of a grant given to us by the local council. It put a pep in my step, finally more of my dreams were coming true, married and now a prospective homeowner. It made me feel so mature over my peers. I had a proper little family, imagine me, an actual homeowner.
Obtaining a mortgage was quite stressful but we finally got one. Ken had a friend that worked in something to do in credit checks and was able to tell us which companies to apply to that didn’t do a credit check using a system that picked up our bad results from somewhere else as they were all connected somehow. I don’t know, it was something like that!
Looking at houses were so much fun, but the stress came when one after the other they fell through. Either the other party in the chain pulled out, or another buyer offered more, or the surveyors disapproved of the worth of the property.
Finally, we found our dream three-bedroom house. Fitted kitchen, bathroom and bedrooms, two fireplaces, one in the sitting room and dining room. The garden was huge with a swing for the children and we had a garage at the end of it.
I had gone back to work to help with our income and to get me out the house to interact with other adults for a change. Ethan was with a lovely childminder that didn’t cost an arm and a leg, Nadia started school and Rishon was in nursery. Our family was stable, and life was good.
I got a job in a private day care nursery which hours were ideal to work around our children’s school hours. They all finally went to the same school and our routine was now very straight forward.
My duties were to create menus and cook lunch and afternoon tea for children aged three months to five years old and the staff team. It was an enjoyable job and so rewarding as I was to bring new ideas and created themes to coincide with traditional holidays from around the world and different faiths.
Before long a new position was created within the company for me as a Senior Cook, I was to oversee the food health and safety records of eight other of the company’s nurseries around the M25 area. Making sure they were correct for environmental health inspections. I was also a mentor for the other cooks, their go to person to help them with alternative dietary requirements ideas for their menus.
Ken would often call me during the day and occasioally I’d prepare lots of great finger foods, he would pick me up from work and we’d go pick up the kids from school and have a picnic in the park for dinner. Oh these were certainly the best times.
The kids had some really cool friends and they were quite popular. I took pleasure in doing themed birthday parties where I would do everything from handmade invitations to party bag fillers all in the chosen theme and party games and homemade party food. Their cakes always personally made, not shop cakes, they had a Mickey Mouse cake, a Magic Hat with a Rabbit at the top and sparkling candles, a Sports Car, and a Teddy Bear cake for the teddy bears picnic party where all the guests brought along their favourite teddy. That was a few to memory. The kids always had the best parties and their whole class was always invited as they didn’t want to upset anyone by leaving them out. For so young they were so considerate and were not mean to anyone.
Ken got promoted and after going for a degree and graduating, he got promoted again. With his income I really didn’t have to work but it made us live well. Kens salary did the mortgage and bills and mines done shopping and all the other things, school dinner money and trips, haircuts, clothes and shoes etc.
Our hours got a little more at work and school term holidays were a struggle. Ken had an Asian friend from cricket that arrived from India with his wife and we agreed that they stay in our home and Tandreema Ari’s wife became our Au-pair. I was then able to do longer hours. I also worked as a Silver Service Waitress and a Commis Chef for an events company that catered for V.I.Ps, the royal family and celebrities. I worked as and when there were events so not every night or weekend, maybe three nights a week and every other Saturday as I still wanted time for the kids, plus being busy kept my mind of the baby I lost which bothered my mind. Sometimes a stiff drink cleared my mind.
There was always spectacular decorations at the events, funny enough it was my dad who got me the job as the head butler and him became good friends. The company did quite a few dinner parties for the 9th Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley at Apsley House where my dad was head of security. Dad always brought home the leftover flower arrangements that they gave away at the end of the evening, they were so elaborate.
I also had the privilege to do the same at some functions… and there were many grand affairs such as state dinners at the Guild Hall for heads of state hosted by the queen and captain Mark Philips, cocktail parties for princess Diana at the National History Museum, cocktail parties hosted by prince Charles and princess Anne at St James Palace. There were also fancy dinners hosted by princess Margaret at Blenheim Palace and Hampton Court Palace, parties for album launches, the cast of the tv series Eastenders, Jewish bar mitzvahs and weddings of the elite…I saw it all and it was amazing until pains started to cripple me in my arms and it became too hard to carry the amount of covers expected in Silver Service, and my arms grew too weak to lift. After a good few years of service I had no choice but to throw in the towel. It was hard as I enjoyed being around our clients and their guests but that’s life I guess. My work hours were cut at the nursery also as I started to walk funny if I was on my feet too long and my hands would freeze in pain if I were to cut or chop for too long. It had gotten worse and after tests were done, it was found I had Fibromyalgia. It was crippling but it was manageable to a certain degree with anti-inflammatory meds.
Summer holidays and Rishon and Ethan had a joint Action Man birthday party. Their birthdays were close to each other and with one income less, it made sense to just have one, Rishon was turning seven and Ethan five, they both loved the same stuff so it was easy.
Nadia seemed quiet and I wondered if she was feeling a little jealous, but every time I asked what was wrong she just said I got a headache and sat quietly with her dolls whilst the boys played outside.
My brother Teddy’s girlfriend had given birth to their son and she was out of hospital so I decided to take a train ride with the kids to go see them. It was a nice summers day, Ken was working until late and Tandreema had the day off, it was a nice day for some family time.
The train ride was enjoyable and a little long being as Teddy lived in the South East. The baby was so cute and looked a lot like Rishon. It was nice having another boy in the family, the boys were coming to catch up to the many nieces. The children played in the garden and a little while after Nadia came in as she was tired. The rest dribbled in and then they decided to play some cards, nothing beats a good game of snap. They were all in a fit of giggles then out of the blue Nadia threw up on the floor and everyone froze. I didn’t know what to do first, what I really wanted to do is run as I had such a phobia about vomiting, Ken was the one that dealt with the kids being sick but there was no Ken here!
Teddys girlfriend was so good and helped me clean up the floor and Nadia. Her eyes were red and she complained her tummy and head hurt. It seemed a beginning of a dreaded stomach bug. The boys got very quiet and seemed concerned as they really loved each other and didn’t like when one of them were unwell or told off.
After a couple hours making sure Nads was ok to journey home, we got ready to leave. Nadia slept for most of the train journey and Ken picked us up from the train station. It was late and the kids went straight to bed. In the morning Nadia was looking normal with no signs that she was sick the night before and the boys were also fine. I had a couple more days at home and then went back to work.
I got a call from Tandreema the day after returning to work that Nadia had been sick and she was complaining of a headache. I called my gp for an evening appointment and left to go home early. I called Ken at work as I started to have a bad feeling about this.
When I got home Nadia wasn’t herself at all, she was lying still in a dark room. The doctor examined her and asked a few questions regarding our family health background. Given I was a migraine sufferer, it was diagnosed that she too had a migraine as it was hereditary. He prescribed some medicine and advised for her to keep of certain foods such as cheese and chocolate for a while and see if that helped improve her.
Nadia was sick again the next day and I wasn’t convinced it was migraine but another trip to the gp gave the same diagnosis. I felt uneasy and decided to keep a diary. She was sick again twice over two days, her eyes seemed to bulge when she threw up as her head hurt at the same time, and after a week had passed the vomiting stopped but she looked so weak bless her. The kids summer holidays kind of went on hold whilst Nadia was unwell. The boys played outside with their scooters and bike with the neighbours kids so it wasn’t all bad.
Nadia seemed a little better and Tandereema encouraged me to go back to work, that she could look after her. So I did. A week passed and Nadia was ok but started to get a little quiet by the end of the week. It was hot outside and I told myself it was the sun and she was sensitive to the light. I was so nervous but I couldn’t think why.
Ken reassured me the doctors had to be right as two separate doctors diagnosed the same thing. I know I was a worrier but there was something that wasn’t sitting well with me. Nadia was always tired, her head always hurting and the whites of her eyes constantly pink.
It was a Friday, I left early to go to work. Ken was home for a much-deserved day off. Around lunch time I was called into the office for a phone call, It was Dr Hargreaves! ‘Hi Mrs Sajor I have another prescription for your husband to pick up.’ ‘Huh… what? Sorry you’ve lost me, what prescription I thought we had all of it?’ ‘Yes this is the one from this morning.’ I was puzzled, I said ok and that he would pick it up. I rang home straight away, Ken answered the phone ‘Ken, what’s going on, Dr Hargreaves just called again about a prescription!?’ There was an awkward silence then he explained ‘ look, Nads was sick again and she looked really unwell so I took her to the doctors’ Ken spoked and my head swirled, in a moment my head seemed to spin like a top. I dropped the phone and dropped to the ground sobbing. My manager came running into the office, ‘My God Maria what’s happened?’ I screamed ‘SOMETHING BAD IS WRONG WITH MY BABY AND THEY’RE MISSING IT… SOMETHINGS WRONG SUSAN’ and I cried and cried. She got one of the staff members to drive me home. I asked her to drive me to the doctors first. I calmed down and took my diary out my bag and marked down an ‘S’ by todays date. And looked back over the last few weeks and staring back at me was a distinct pattern of events, I froze.
I rushed out the car and asked the receptionist to please call out Dr Hargreaves. They knew us very well and saw how unwell Nadia looked that morning, she called her out.
I showed Dr Hargreaves the diary of Nadias headaches and vomiting. I wasn’t going crazy, there was a pattern, she saw it too… five days vomiting in the morning once a day, then six days vomiting twice a day then a couple days nothing then it would start again. She took the prescription back and gave me something else. ‘Now Mrs Sajor, listen carefully, give Nadia this medicine after her meal tonight. If she still vomits tomorrow morning then it’s not migraine, take her straight to A & E they’ll be waiting for her as an emergency. ’I was shaking and tears were streaming down my face as my work colleague Alyson drove me home.
The boys were home and if I knew them I know they’d be anxious and Nadia scared and poorly so I had to wipe my face and compose myself and act as normal as possible. I explained to Ken all what the doctor said and he held me in his arms saying it was all going to be ok I closed my eyes and held him tight back. The evening was spent as normal as possible playing with the boys whilst Nadia rested quietly with her dolls on the sofa after taking her medication.
The morning came and with it our greatest fear, Nadia was sick again. We called the hospital to say we were on our way.
She was admitted straight away and annoyingly all her obs were fine. We couldn’t understand it, Ken and I was at our wits end now as after showing Ken my diary, he then agreed it wasn’t my mind, something was wrong. The rest of the Saturday Nads was fine, she was fine on Sunday and her obs were also fine. The doctors and nurses all joked she was a mystery child. After talking to the doctor he said a CT Scan was booked for the Monday and there was no harm in still getting it done and we can then see about going home, that maybe it really was a case of really bad migraines. In my mind I was like no way.
Just after breakfast on Monday morning Nads was sick again and part of me was glad, only because she was so well in hospital and I needed them to see her sick.
She went for the scan in the afternoon, Ken left to take the boys home for lunch and I told him I’ll call him to pick us up later as I was sure we were going home regardless.
About twenty minutes passed and three doctors came by Nadias bed. ‘Mrs Sajor? Hello, I’m Dr Parker the registrar and these are Drs Reynalds and Simmons specialists in neurology.’ All that sounded foreign to me… ‘Where is Mr Sajor we would like to speak to you both?’’ He’s gone home to get the boys some lunch’ ‘Can you call him back straight away please we found something.’ My heart pounded like a bass drum I swallowed hard and looked at all their faces trying to read each one. ‘Yes I will call him but I need you to tell me straight away as I can’t wait, I cannot stand not knowing a moment longer please tell me what is wrong?’ They led me into a room and told me to take a seat as they closed in the door. I felt I was in a tv documentary it was so surreal.
Dr Parker allowed Dr Simmons to begin… he took out a pad and began to draw what looked like a walls sausage and another long shape a little thinner than a pencil. He begun to explain… ‘There are ventricles in the brain that carry fluid called cerebrospinal fluid, your daughters ventricle is the size of this…pointing to the large walls sausage shape… but they should be smaller than this one…pointing to the thinner one… its blocked somewhere at the base of her skull it’s a term called Hydrocephalus, Fluid on the Brain. Its common with babies born with Spina Bifida, she’s eight years old now so that’s highly unlikely, Has she knocked her head?’ I was in a daze, I answered ‘no not that I know of, she just started having lots of headaches and vomiting and it was put down to migraines until I noticed a pattern, I kept a diary.’ ‘We’ve couriered her scan down to Great Ormond Street Hospital as we haven’t got the equipment to look at it in detail for a tumour, you do know what a tumour is Mrs Sajor? As she hasn’t knocked her head it could be what’s blocking the fluid.’
This was too much for me, where was Ken? The nurses had called him and he was on his way back, but it felt like hours. Dr Parker informed me that they were organizing an ambulance to take Nadia to Great Ormond Street which is in central London. I went back to Nadias bed and watched her play with the toys, she looked so normal, nothing showed on her obs, temperature, blood pressure, we were facing a secret killer.
Ken arrived and the boys went in the play area. The drs again repeated all what they told me, and Ken crumbled to a chair, he fell apart and cried ever so deeply. I held him in my arms and whispered gently ‘Come on darling the kids need us…shhhhh we gotta keep it together so we don’t scare them. It’s going to be okay, they finally know now.’ And with that, after a few minutes, Ken composed himself and excused himself to go wash his face. I couldn’t cry. I needed to be of sound mind and understand everything the drs were to tell us.
Work, I had to call work, only that morning I rang and said she was going for a scan but we’ll more than likely be home that day and I should be back tomorrow.
Susan answered the phone, I began strong ‘Hiya, ummmm we’re not coming out, they found something, we’re being transferred to Great Ormond Street Hospital, They’re looking for a tumour on in her brain, there is fluid blocked.’ As the words came out my voice began to shake, and I broke down. I heard Susans voice but yet heard nothing, my world was in a glass bottle with deep cracks appeared out of nowhere. It was about to shatter.
What am I to do?
There’s no getting through to you
For every spoken sore there is a plaster
Useless tears that fill a carving of alabaster
A long bandage of reasons,
To kill the life within me is treason
Betraying the care given unto me
Entrusted to nurture,
Yet trouble and strife
Is all they envision
Am I then living and seeing a delusion?
I am but an emptying jug
Cascading out to a river of confusion
Shall I tell myself the inner wall of my womb holds an illusion?
I’m so sorry
I couldn’t find the right words to shout
And make your mothers words turn like a roundabout 360!
I know you thought being married would be your curtain
A covering that would shield you from indignation
You looked to him to defend
He said for better for worse
Yet when you needed him, he abstained from putting you first.
If I could just let you know
That your inner me intercedes for you
Crying out, your spirit begs for mercy and grace
But it is not time yet for you to understand
How much your unborn child is in HIS hands
You’ve catapulted in deep misery
Fighting demon’s day and night
Crying babies that are out of sight
I wish I could save you from this despair
Through it all
Love has evolved
He covers you with a marital shawl
His affection awakened trying to help you stand up
Sounds of laughter from your sons and daughter
Helps the sadness take shelter
Out of hibernation of guilt and self-hate
Enough, it’s time to recuperate
Come out of this depressive state before it is too late
Oh my baby how I adore you
Your tiny hands
Your cute little face
My imagination goes crazy
Picturing what you would have looked like
And whether you are a boy or a girl
I’m so sorry
So very very sorry
But it was out of my control
I couldn’t win on the blame game
Looking back I feel so ashamed
That when I came under attack
I had no back bone for you to fight back
Who Knows, I could have won
And all the naysayers shocked and surprised
As they never realised that you’d grow to be the exceptional one
I’m sorry I put you to sleep beloved
If only you knew how much after I suffered
Crying over a baby I never knew
Always remember my precious
As you lay in the hands of Jesus
Mummy did, and always will love you
Ethan was only three months old when I found out I was pregnant again. If I thought it was tough with three under five, there was about to be four under five and this baby and Ethan at some point will be the same age at one part of the year as they would be less than a year apart.
I wanted to scream, this was the first pregnancy that there was no smiles, no excitement, I was scared, what was in Kens mind? I needed to just leave him alone for a while to breathe and take it all in. All I needed was his approval, something to say ‘I love you, we can do this together, and I’ll be ok with it all. I just wanted his support and I could fight the world. Afterall he helped make it!
Never in my life did I think abortion would be an option in my life, this was for single people, people who are in the situation of pregnancy deserted by their partners etc… I was married, through all our arguments, I loved Ken, loved our little family, loved being a wife and mother. Talking of mothers, my mum was most concerned. Her first response was ‘Maria you simply can’t go through with this pregnancy, Ken is struggling to make ends meet, you can’t breathe and just about manage with the three you have. You have no choice, get rid of it.’ Just like that, no emotion, no concern, it flew out her mouth as fast as oxygen flowing out her lungs, tears welled in my eyes and I turned to look at Kens reaction but his head was bowed low, he said nothing! What did his silence mean? ’but it’s killing a baby, my baby, the children’s brother or sister. What will I say, how do I explain if I get pregnant in the future, the reason for putting this baby to sleep?’ the tears broke the barrier of my lashes and streamed down. ‘Maria catch yourself, number one it is not a baby it is a mass of cells still, surely you can see the strain and pressure Ken is under and will get worse; you’re young, you have time to have another child in the future but not THIS YEAR! Nursery runs, breast feeding and looking after Ethan, it’s cruelty, no Maria my advice to you and Ken is to get rid of it.’ Under my skin grew hot like fire with anger, not just at mums words but at Ken just sitting there not defending his unborn baby or me. I could’ve boxed his lights out but mum was there and no way was I going to show here the other side to us. It was important to me that she saw at least one of her children’s marriage works; Cams first marriage ended in divorce, my eldest brother Teddy was now divorced after just five years and my other brother Lincoln’s marriage was on the rocks but more visible than ours. Gosh someone’s marriage had to work! Mum turned to Ken, ‘well what you think Ken as this involves you too? I stated my feelings on this predicament with you in mind, you feel you can handle a baby… another baby?’ He rubbed his hands over his face as if he just woke up ‘look whatever Maria decides I will stand by her.’ Now what the heck was that supposed to mean? What ah cop out, how was that supporting me? how did that put a band aid over the cuts of mum’s tongue? He had mouth enough to cuss and carry on when we disagreed on things, yet the minute I truly need him to just love me through a difficult situation he couldn’t or wouldn’t show any strength or control…I will stand by her!!!
I sat there unable to speak anymore. Mum got up and said she needed to go but to think very hard and quickly as the last thing we wanted was to make this linger and it become noticeable. And with that she left.
I was numb, I couldn’t look at Ken as I blamed him, I’m not sure what for, maybe all of this, but it felt easier to blame someone else and I was hurt that he didn’t speak up more.
I looked at my pregnancy book that was given to me by the prenatal clinic in hospital when I was pregnant with Nadia. It was so cool, it showed week by week of the baby’s growth up to the fortieth week with illustrations. A group of cells, not a baby mum said, but at nine weeks there would be a visible heartbeat according to that book. I was six weeks. If I was going to go through with this I would have to think and act fast for real. But the pressure, I felt so pressured, I couldn’t think straight and all Ken would say was ‘anything I decided he will support me.’ The more I heard those words in my mind the more upset I got. I knew full well that if I chose to continue with this pregnancy I would be blamed for all setbacks, all hardship, all debts, everything bad. How on earth was I going to do something I’ve never agreed on in my life. The only thing keeping me sane was it needed to be done before I was nine weeks!
I booked in to see my Gp the following day, he was very nice and sympathetic after hearing my reasons why I was heading down the path of putting my baby to sleep ( I couldn’t say the words killing or abortion, they felt cold, heartless and like cuss words) He gave me a referral letter to a Marie Stopes abortion clinic and contacted them to book an appointment.
The whole process seemed so long, and it seemed no one cared about the time frame but me.
It was just over a week that I had to wait for the appointment, it was more of a consultation. The therapist spoke at length trying to get a sense of my mental wellbeing. All pointless, what did it matter, it’s not like I had much choice in the matter. Mum was adamant the baby had to go, Ken was on the fence but only because he was too gutless to speak up. He did however say that he didn’t want to say yes in agreement to mum as he didn’t want me to blame him, but I already did!
The day came for the procedure. Ken drove me there, but he couldn’t stay as he had Ethan. Nadia & Rishon were at nursery. There were two other women in the waiting room, one was a young teenager who was as tearful as I was and looked awfully scared, the other was a young woman, maybe in her late twenties with her partner. They sat holding hands and I couldn’t help but wonder what their story was.
‘Maria Sajor’ my name was called but it sounded like a distant echo underwater. I was shaky when I stood up and tears burned my eyes, what was I doing? This was my body my baby… ok cells, it was just a mass of stuff, I had to fill my mind with the vision of cells as I lay on the bed. A nurse was speaking and telling me what to expect and asked if someone was coming to collect me as I couldn’t go home on my own. I whispered yes and sobbed, she rubbed my arms and said everything would be alright. She also asked before she gave me the anaesthetic if I was sure this was what I wanted. It was like giving last rights. I shamefully nodded my head, as she started to give me the injection I heard the surgeon read my file asking to confirm my name, date of birth. I said yes to all.
I felt a sharp scratch and cold fluid entered my hands as I heard ‘young woman 23yrs old nine and a half weeks gestation, marr’…. And it went black.
In my mind I screamed stop and my eyes opened, thank God they heard me, where was the nurse, she was just here? I had a baby not cells, nine and a half weeks, that meant I had a baby not cells, it had a heartbeat according to my book, so no I couldn’t put my baby to sleep. Everyone would have to understand.
The nurse came from around the curtain and I smiled at her ‘how are you Maria? Everything went well, we’ll give you a couple hours to make sure there are no after affects and you can call the person who is to collect you.’ I lay there gobsmacked, but I just blinked my eyes what did she mean. ‘I don’t understand I cried out stop, I thought you heard me, what do you mean I just shut my eyes for a second’ I sobbed as she started to explain the effect of the anaesthetic that when I spoke out it was in my mind as I went under within seconds…’but my baby, I was nine and a half weeks, it had a heartbeat, was it a boy or a girl?’ I was inconsolable as I didn’t realise with all the appointments I had gone to; time had obviously slipped by and I lost count. I put my baby to sleep, it was gone and the pain was intense, the same after pain you get after delivering a baby. My stomach was contracting the most horrendous pain I felt like I was going to die. Was God punishing me for murder?
The nurse gave me a shot of pethidine… I think that’s what she said it was, I was too upset to hear her words, and I drifted into sleep.
Weeks, months passed, and my life was a cloud. My joy of Ethan was stripped away with the loss of my baby. Yes, MY baby, nobody else wanted it except me. Mum tried to make it seem right telling me God will understand and He will not punish me and it was for the best for both me and Ken. Oh my gosh it was just too much. Sometimes water produced in my eyes with no physical effort, I’d blink and there it was. I had to pull myself together for the kids sake and I hated crying in front of them.
I constantly heard a new born baby crying in the night while I slept, and in the quiet times of the day, but when I got up to look there was no baby, I was going out of my mind. Butterflies, they fluttered in my stomach. It was the same feeling of the first kick you get from your baby in the womb. Then the thoughts started, what if they left part of the baby in me, what was making that movement?? Constant reminders daily of what I’d done. Nine and a half weeks, I even went over the cut off time I gave myself, just so I wasn’t stopping any heartbeat. How awful. I would have to live with this for the rest of my life.
Ken was true to his word, over the following months he was very supportive and allowed me to cradle in his arms when need be, he tidied up and cooked when I couldn’t. There was no fighting or arguing, to be honest, I wouldn’t know how. Ken loved on me and he had said one day, if he knew it would affect me so bad, he would’ve never let me go through with it. I was glad he said it but it was too late.
No, not the kind on the fourth of July
Or celebrations to mark a brand-new year
No colourful lights to light the sky
It’s an explosion of emotions that bring heartfelt tears
How is it possible for love to cascade
Down a steep rocky slope
Diminishing any resemblance of hope
In my mind, my heart, I simply cannot cope
Silence fills the air.
I think and wonder…
When was the last time I sensed he cared?
Awww… warm water! Oh yeah
You see my Dookie Dooks
Love is still in the air
When you start doubting,
Go back to the night baked beans and eggs filled your hair
I’ve tried so many times to show you
To remind you how men are
But you used all your energy to cover up those rigid scars
What do I do, what can I do?
For richer, for poorer
In sickness and in health
What really did I mean when I vowed for better, for worse?
Did I in fact decree a curse?
The unbearable silence
Words spat in hate
Anger, bitterness and resentment formed an alliance
And now the marriage is in a hideous state
In the times of disappear, to show that he cared
His lips kissed gently in the midnight hour
He touched you softly until you couldn’t breathe
You forgave him with so much ease
Fighting through nightmares, so wanting to please
I knocked the door to your mind but you declined to answer
I could see from inside, tumours of pain formed like cancer
Ready to destroy anything good
Your hunger to be loved so misunderstood
How you defined love
To others, it would sound insane
Yet the penetration of his kind of love
Has you pregnant again!… and again…
Shhhh I hear you say to me
Stop being so fearful of what the future has in store for me
Should I be worried to fill my womb again after three?
You’re about to see
And face a cruel reality
Regardless if you are married or not
You’ve conceived in the midst of hardship and strife
People will not consider you as a wife
As you’ll be forced to consider an abortionist’s knife
I am here
And I will hug you internally
A new nightmare is about to arise
Words shall cover truth with lies
For every child gifted to you is a blessing
Unfortunately, you and Ken will not realise
And darkness awaits with tears in your eyes
Fireworks so loud it deafens your ear
Your inner me crying out but no sound do you hear
No one is speaking to you intellectually
I ask… What is this pregnancy’s contingency?
It took a few weeks for Ken and me to start talking again. With him it was due to shame and guilt. I was upset as I was victim, even though to be honest I missed sharing the love we had.
Friends had come over to visit one evening and that’s what broke the ice. It was hard to put on a mask and stay vex afterwards. The children were such good playmates and played really well in the playgroup that I took them to every Thursday. A new nursery had opened in the area and were taking on children with sibling discounts. I registered Nadia & Rishon and thankfully they were accepted. Kens work colleague that was giving him a hard time was dismissed and Ken got a promotion, so things were a little easier. It was decided by both Ken and I that it was a good time for me to go back to work. I was accepted for the first application and job interview I applied for, and the hours were perfect to fit around the children. Things were more than good, they were great. Ken and I had put the plate incident behind us. Being freshly married had its ups and downs whilst finding your feet and we just put that blip down to one of our downs.
Everyone saw us as the perfect little family, we looked great as a couple, our children were beautiful, and our home was always welcoming. Valentines, Mother’s Day and my birthday were three of my favourite days of the year as I was always showered with love. Ken spoilt me and I spoilt him even double. We were comfortable in our routine, me going back to work, his promotion and the kids settled at nursery was a blessing.
Christmas was around the corner and we decided to spend it with our parents. The family enjoyed seeing our kids and this was a time where all the little cousins could meet up.
Work was tiring the weeks leading up to Christmas, due to the dropping off the kids, the commute to work, standing up all day cooking then the journey back again had my times of eating out of whack. By the evening I just couldn’t face eating. I was glad when Christmas day came as I didn’t have to do a thing but get myself and the kids ready, which Ken helped me with. Our first stop was Kens parents. They were so happy to see their grandchildren. His sister and her family were there too. We didn’t eat too much or stay very long as we still had to drive down to my parents afterwards.
Mum as usual had cooked up a storm, her traditional Trinidadian Christmas dinner, her freshly baked breads, cakes and sweetbread made the day so special. Maybe due to eating breakfast late and then dinner, although light, at Kens parents; I couldn’t eat a lot at all and was quite tired. Mum looked at me ‘what you mean you’re not hungry, you come all the way here and not eating good food! What happen yuh pregnant or something?’ she chuckled and everyone in ear shot laughed. I smiled and said I was just over full, but inside of me a lightbulb flicked on so fast, pregnant? No way but my mind swiftly looked back at myself over the last few weeks. No no it wasn’t possible anyway, yes we were both forgetful when it came to birth control but I was taking it regardless. As for my menstrual cycle, it was as irregular as our local bus! I set myself a test to put my mind at ease, as my morning sickness was always in the evening; I told myself I would see if I felt overly tired that night and the evening of the day after. There was no need to panic just yet. Obviously I was tired and feeling a little off now but there was still the next day.
Boxing day, we stayed over at mums as Ken had a few drinks and the kids had a late night playing. During the day I clean forgot about checking myself and had a lovely relaxing day after the excitement of Christmas. Before long tiredness came upon me, mum offered me food but I couldn’t and the only drink I fancied was to sip water. Maybe I ate something bad or had a stomach flu. Then my eyes popped wide open and I looked at the time, it was 5pm, I gulped and I’m not sure if the words ‘oh shit’ was audible or if I said it in my mind. It was Boxing Day, all the shops closed really early so there was no going to the pharmacy until the next day. It was going to be a long night.
Mum & dad encouraged us to spend another night and I was happy for the extra pair of hands with the children especially feeling the way I did.
As soon as I woke up, I had a shower and went down to the shops at the bottom of the road. I brought something to hide the clear blue pregnancy test I got in the pharmacy. I hurried back, everyone was preoccupied and didn’t notice my movements. I headed to the bathroom and locked the door. Breathed in and slowly exhaled then began to take the test.
The cross was crystal clear, I was pregnant.
What would Ken say, my mum, my friends??? Baby number three. Three children under five. Wow! I know we wanted children but these were popping out pretty fast. I was happy yet nervous, the thought of gas and air didn’t quite cut it this time; I was a little nervous. Ken and I were getting on like in the early days of our relationship, I was now working and our lifestyle was comfortable. What would he say? I needed a cushion to soften the blow of his words, I thought it best to say something now while we were in mums company. I had gone downstairs, the kids were happily playing with their new toys and Ken was chatting to mum and Cam who had popped in. My sister had a huge smile as she said hello to me and I forced a smile back, I couldn’t hide my nervousness. Cam searched my face and asked what was wrong, why was I looking like I lost a pot of gold. With a half smile I said I hadn’t lost anything, more like I found something. I turned to Ken actually wishing I could’ve retract my words and just hide a while longer. ‘Ken I know this may be not the best of times but I’ve just found out our family is about to get bigger,’ Ken looked bewildered and it wasn’t until mum and Cam’s reaction that he caught on. ‘Maria oh my gosh THREE,’ Cam blurted out, ‘well girl yuh good not me mate, but you and Ken cope well so what’s one more?’ Mum smiled and quipped ‘Ken yuh real have my daughter busy’ giggling but said all children are a blessing and congratulations. Ken still looked out of sorts, he looked at me ‘Now that’s a Christmas surprise present…oh my God, three, how the heck… well girl we just gotta deal with it. It will be okay.’ He reached over and kissed me and rubbed my belly ‘baby number three huh, okay,’ he smiled and bowed his head for a minute or so, rubbed his head as he turned and looked at Nadia and Rishon. ‘Roll on the new year!’ He smiled at me with a reassuring smile and that was what made me exhale after holding a very long breath. It was what I needed. Now I could relax, hey I was married and that’s what married people do, have children…right?!
Then why did I feel so awkward telling people, their responses were more a less the same ‘Three Kids!’ Yes three, what the heck, it wasn’t that I was a baby mama with three different baby daddies. I just smiled along with them and replied, yeah me and my husband will have three.
My pregnancy was just the same as Rishon and I swore I was having another boy. By this time I didn’t mind if it was a boy or girl, well actually I secretly wanted a boy to keep Rishon company as he was surrounded by girls. I worked up until my seventh month then went on maternity leave, but I knew I wasn’t going back in three months. I needed time with my baby and time for it to grow big enough to express his likes or dislike for his childcare when I eventually got back to work. Maternity leave meant maternity pay which was much lower than my salary. We had to make cutbacks which made Ken a little on edge at times. He wasn’t the greatest dealing with change, especially with a decline of finances. There were bouts of bickering between us but not to the extent to get physical.
Ken and I moved from the temporary accommodation to a council short term accommodation. It was a two-bed flat on the ground floor on the outside border of a local estate. We were so happy not to be in a high rise, there wasn’t a back garden; but we did have a small front garden. It was home.
It was the middle of summer and Ken had gone to cricket. Some weekends we would go along for the day, but I was near my due date and running after Nadia and Rishon was not the one. I decided to stay and cook a really nice Sunday dinner. I fancied some callaloo, macaroni pie, stew boiler chicken and rice n peas. Cam and her husband Patrick passed by to see if I was ok and drop some of Patricks vegetables off from his allotment. We had a laugh and they asked again if I needed anything before they left, but I was fine. We said our goodbyes and they hugged and kissed the kids who began to cry as they went through the front door, Patricks heart went soft and said they’ll take them for a few hours so I can chill. My whole insides were smiling. I quickly got a bag sorted for them and off they went.
It wasn’t even five minutes after they left that I felt as if I was peeing myself. I ran to the toilet but just a trickle came out. This was part of the pregnancy I hated, the feeling to pee and be bursting but only a little comes out, nowhere close to what I’d expect. I needed to change my underwear, but as soon as I leant up I was trickling again. Guessing the baby was resting on my bladder I decided to put on a sanitary towel as I wasn’t going to be changing knickers every few minutes. Before long the pad was soaked, when I went to change it I saw a plug of mucus but there was no streak of blood, I was confused. Just then the phone rand it was my auntie Ann who was a midwife, what were the chances on that stroke of luck. After I told her what was happening she said my waters had broken. But I imagined a big gush when that happened, my waters were always broken by the nurse in the past labours. I told her I wasn’t in any pain and too embarrassed to ask if the waters came out the same place as my wee… well they never told us in prenatal classes! She told me to put another pad on so the midwives could see and measure how much waters had gone and ring the labour ward to let them know… Here we go again I thought.
Why did this not happen while Cam was here for Pete’s sake. Reaching for the phone again to call the cricket club and I was stopped in my movement by a pain that shot across my stomach. Before long Ken arrived and we left straight away as the pain was getting intense and the water was coming down faster, this is not at all what I imagined it to be.
After two labours I must have gotten immune to the gas and air as it wasn’t working, in addition to that the midwife offered me Pethidine which I gladly accepted. Ken said he had just hit a six when Terry the barman came running across the pitch waving and shouting ‘KEN KEN HER WATERS AV BROKEN!’ it sounded so comical that I couldn’t hold back the laugh as I thought how it must’ve looked.
I was well behaved in this labour it was relatively calm. Before I knew it, after two more big pushes our second son was born. Ken named him Ethan which means firm and strong. He was little but he had a firm grip and looked like a right little wrestler. Ken was happy, he adored all his children and was an excellent dad.
I loved Ken but when we argued an anger in me stirred up to boiling point and I would get in a fit of rage and lash out. All I wanted was a happy marriage and happy home, a man to call my husband, a devoted husband that cherished his wife. I’m somebody’s child and surely, I deserve to be treated right. Why couldn’t he see the damage he was causing. Why couldn’t my life be like the Crosby show? That couple loved each other, yes it was a show on tv but when Ken and I were out with family and friends that’s who they compared us with, we were a shining example of a good young family.
Our life fell into a cycle of Ken being silent, I would get in a strop as I hated the atmosphere in the house. I would then start to do the dishes but loudly. I would bang everything in frustration and slam the kitchen cupboards with hot tears behind my eyes. Why did we have to be like this? Why can’t we be a normal happy loving family? Where’s my fairy tale? This is not what I envisioned, I felt I was a caged bird that lost its voice, no longer a sweet song to tweet but rather a quiet groan from deep within. It wasn’t a nice environment, the children also seemed on edge and Rishon cried for every little thing. My banging would cause Ken to start cursing and would go out and smoke. He’ll come back in and I’ll start… ‘What’s wrong with you? why won’t you speak to me? what did I do?’ and all I would get is the silent treatment and my temper would engulf into flames shouting and screaming then the floods of tears. What was happening to me, to us. Ken would realise I’d gone over the edge and would take care of the children and get them ready for bed. He would read them a bedtime story while I sat in the kitchen feeling deflated with a bottle of wine. I felt useless and I was failing. Failure was not an option, this marriage had to and will work.
It was after these outbreaks Ken would come to bed and it seems his version of sorry was to be intimate, my mind however grew an army and the battle was real. A fight to separate reality from nightmare memories that were buried in the depths of my soul. Visions of hands touching me and I could identify each hand without seeing the face. I opened my eyes to look at Ken to keep me in the present. Looking still didn’t help as I felt to ashamed to visually see what we were doing. I felt dirty every time. How I had three children was beyond me as sex was difficult most of the time. Ken could feel me clamming up which I know annoyed him, he kept telling me its ok its him, but the scars were real and occasionally they bled.
It was customary that afterwards I would get up and take a hot bath. My hips would be in excruciating pain, not because Ken was rough with me but my joints just seemed to ache so much since having Ethan. The old pain in my knee came back after many years dormant. The bath seemed to calm everything down and relaxed me from the turmoil I had gone through. By the time I got back to bed, Ken was fast asleep snoring. I climbed back into bed and wrapped my body around his, he nestled himself into me so we fit each other like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and sleep came.
This was the peace I needed and craved, when I had it, I grabbed it with both hands and it stayed until the next time Ken had a bad day at work and came home with the mood that started a ticking bomb of events. I knew what would happen, what always happened.
Ethan turned 12weeks and growing well, even though there were far too much arguments between Ken & I, Nadia & Rishon were such joyful children and played together so well and they loved their baby brother.
Ken came home from work, he looked tired, but he was in a relatively good mood. There was no easy way to tell him, He looked at me and saw something was up ‘What is it Maria, what’s happened? The kids ok? I reached in my pocket and took out a white stick, opened my hand to reveal it in its entirety. There it was… a cross! He looked at me and said ‘f***ing hell no way.’
A seed was sown
Its down deep in the soil below
When it was sown, I do not know
But it was watered and fed
And arisen from the soil bed.
Wait, it’s okay for I see a bud
I assume it is a darling bud of May
A blossom of sweet fragrance of love
Potentially to form a bouquet
Presented to ones lover on Mothers or Valentines Day.
Out from the stem thorns take form
The aesthetic senses, perfume and colours that radiate sunset red
Intoxicating my head
But instead of imitating life, Dookie Dooks feels dead
There is a change in climate
Winds begin to twirl and rise
Her life is about to change before her eyes
Scolding hot baths and tears that stream silently down her face
I didn’t forewarn you
Falling head over heels in love
Fearing not the trials of life
And how lack of money can bring on stress and strife
The hand that says sorry touches by caress
In your heart, I made you feel everything was blessed
Here lies the greatest test
Will you stay and endure
So all will see a perfect love
Or will you go and save/change your life
No, off course you’ll stay
You have learnt over the years
To wear the mask called ‘ everything is okay’
What can I say?
What can I do?
I want to try and save you
But your love for him is strong and true
And even though he knocked you out
He does in fact love you too
Even though it was a heavy clout
Your eyes opened
And so did your mind
But instead of the truth, I whispered into your heart
The water, remember the water
The care he took to wash your face and hair
It was not cold but rather warm
So no matter the reality of the storm that just brewed
No matter what I can whisper
To deliver you from what’s sure to come after
No matter the warning signs
All that matters in your life is Ken, Nadia and Rishon
You are determined to carry on
As far as you are concerned
You must have caused the situation
After all that’s what was said
I should’ve told you, you could’ve dropped dead
A seed was sown
Out of the fertile soil grew a rose
It spelt love and grace, joy and peace
You held it not knowing the pain it could release
It grew with warm water
As long as you held it between the thorns
It was capable to give love and not hurt you
Beauty that deceived
You left your parents to cleave
No way will you entertain the words to leave
So, what did I do?
I left you to believe
Because he used warm water,
He loved you
Christmas was approaching and it was too be our first Christmas as a little family spent in our home. I was still at home looking after Nadia while Ken worked. Money was a little tight, but we were coping. It wasn’t like we had to shop for three as Nadia was on baby food and formula milk which was provided by milk tokens from the government, myself and Ken did not eat that much portion wise.
I was okay at home with my routine but lately I was getting tired during the day and by the evening I was so ratty that even Nadia got on my nerves. Ken and I started to have little snappy arguments. They weren’t bad, but it sometimes had me on edge. I was off my food too. Mum said I was run down and was not having a good diet. I was still breast feeding in between so it could be that my immune system was low, she urged me to go and see my Gp hoping he will give me a prescription for some tonic or vitamins.
I did, and after I explained all what I was feeling, he got the nurse to take my bloods and I took a urine test and advised me to drink plenty of water and rest.
The doctor called me back in later that day. I sat down in his office as he turned my way. He said I needed some tonic but not because I was rundown or anaemic, but because I was pregnant! My eyes had shot wide open in shock, then looking back, all the signs were there. The feeling nauseous in the evening, ratty, off my food and lately the metal taste in my mouth. He asked me if I was okay with that news and I had smiled and said yes. He examined me and judging by my dates estimated I was six weeks gone. I was given a couple of appointments and he wrote up a letter to send to my preferred hospital and said they would send me an antenatal appointment in the post. He said congratulations and I left. Walking out the building a million thoughts ran through my mind… two children, what would Ken say, how will mum and my friends react, two babies in nappies, what I would do different in labour… Labour! I smiled, in fact I grinned as I said out loud the delightful thought that sprung to mind ‘gas & air Yes!
Ken was at work; I was bursting to tell him. It was killing me to stay silent, the more I thought about it the more I was loving the fact another baby was growing within me.
When he finally came home, I had composed myself. I wanted to feel his mood first after his long day, what if he wasn’t as excited as me? He kissed me and said evening and I smiled. He knew something was up and asked if I had been to the gp. ‘Yes; and he gave me his diagnosis this afternoon as he saw something, he saw a baby!’ Ken looked up ‘what?’ ‘you heard’ I smiled as I saw the twinkling in his eyes, his eyes always shone as diamonds when he smiled. He stood up chuckled and kissed me. He joked saying he now realised why I was so moody and snappy of late. I told him the doctor said I was about six weeks according to my menstrual cycle dates so very early days.
I wasn’t one to keep news of a pregnancy until after twelve weeks pregnant, I was letting my family and friends know I was expecting, after all, I was married now so it was no shame in it. The feeling was so good mentioning I was pregnant without fear of a backlash of negativity. Everyone we told was so happy for us, especially our parents. The thought of another little Nadia was pleasing to many, she was a beautiful baby in looks and temperament.
Christmas day was so lovely, in fact it was beautiful. My first time cooking my very own Christmas dinner, serving it in the special silver dishes we received as our wedding gifts and as I couldn’t drink alcohol, we had apple tango in our posh wedding champagne flutes. The best part of Christmas day was Nadia took her first steps. It couldn’t get any more perfect.
Weeks rolled into months; time seemed to fly by. This pregnancy was nothing like Nadia’s, I grew as big as a whale, my hair was really healthy, and it grew as did my feet! From a size five to a size seven. I waddled like a duck when I walked, it was quite comical. It was quite a hot summer which didn’t help. It was so different being heavily pregnant in the summer than in the winter which I was before.
Ken left me at mums and took Nadia to drop Daniel to a cricket match the other side of London. I was alone as everyone had gone to work. I was restless and decided to pop down to the shop for my much craved for pineapple juice, stopping off at the dry cleaners on the corner, I chatted with the couple that ran it. They were a lovely couple. As we spoke a sharp pain cut across my stomach which winded me and I doubled over. The lady, Mrs Bannerman asked if I was ok as I composed myself, I said yes it must’ve been a Braxton Hicks although I thought to myself it was rather strong for that. No one was home so I prolonged my conversation with them. Seven minutes passed and there it was again, now we all panicked as I doubled up and groaned. Mrs Bannerman got her husband to call my mum at work as she was closer than Ken was. Ken wasn’t answering his phone and I was sure although I was thirty-eight weeks gestation, this baby was coming. It caught me off guard as I expected it to be the same as my last experience. As if my body had its own automatic alarm clock the contraction came again, I held my breath involuntary; the pain gripped me. Mr Bannerman tried calling Ken one last time and by a miracle Ken answered. He explained the situation, but Ken was too far for me to wait and decided it was best I get to the hospital and he’d meet me there. Mum was on her way. I had to get to the house to get my hospital bag which was packed and ready and to call the labour ward. I waited for the last contraction to pass and Mrs Bannerman walked with me slowly to our house. By the time we got to the house there was mum pulling up and at the sight of her gave me a sigh of relief.
Mum rushed in the house to grab my bag and quickly called the hospital. They were expecting us and after I danced and rocked the next contraction away, we got going.
This labour was quick and it seemed that Ken was going to miss the birth as after just a couple hours I was ready to push. Ken had rang and said he had dropped Nadia off at his sisters and would be right there.
I thought of where his sister lived and rolled my eyes, I looked at mum who was holding my hand and rubbing my back and I fell into tears, I was scared, I wanted Ken, I needed to hear his voice and feel his touch. He always had a way to comfort me and say the right words to make me feel safe. Times when I would have flashbacks when we made love, images of indecent touches and accusing words that showered me with guilt. Ken would hold me in his arms and gently kiss the nightmares that tormented me.
Mum consoled and encouraged me as best as she could, after twenty long minutes the door burst open, it was Ken, oh the relief. I was ready to push; the gas & air had my head feeling nice, but it was time to let go to feel the urge to push with force (you gain wisdom and knowledge from your first labour!) My body trembled uncontrollably immediately after the baby came out, it was all over. I heard the words ‘It’s a boy’ a boy! What did they mean, it must be a mistake, my family don’t have boys!! I panicked and burst into tears. Ken was lost as to what was wrong and I didn’t want to hold the baby, there had to be a mistake. He quickly went out the room to get my mum telling her something was wrong. She came rushing in ‘Maria what is it, what’s wrong? Sobbing I explained ‘I don’t know what to do with a boy, I’ve only ever had nieces and my baby at home is a girl, why have I got a boy?’ Mum smiled and said well darling you only get two offers male or female and we take what’s given and be thankful. I still wasn’t liking it and spoke out my concerns, ‘how do I put his nappy on, is his little willy supposed to fit up or down in it? And how do I potty train, would he stand up or sit down?? Wouldn’t he miss?’ I sobbed out these words and Ken and mum did everything they could to suppress their laughter. Looking back, my concerns and fears were so ridiculous and humorous but they were so worrying to me at the time.
They comforted and reassured me and celebrated that this was the first grandson for my parents, first nephew for my brothers and sisters. I smiled. The midwife, after I had calmed down, brought over the swaddled baby for me to hold. I looked down and a burst of love covered me like a warm blanket and I kissed him as he slept.
As this was our first son, Ken named him, his name was Rishon, a Hebrew name meaning First boy. Ken had Daniel off course but Rishon was our first.
Again, I stayed at mums initially for some help but only for two weeks as it was more hectic having Nadia as well. It was a little cramped and I missed the comfort of my own home.
Things got back to normal quickly and we slipped in our new routine well. Ken was having problems at work and began smoking a lot heavier. He stayed out longer and more often on Friday nights with the lads which began to irritate me, no longer was I a part of that. I was now the stay at home mum with two young babies. It was upsetting as I hardly saw the girls and I missed being able to go out clubbing, especially with my cousin Shantel.
Ken started bringing home his frustration from work, he was snappy and we got into fits of shouting matches every other week, it was always a build up until it blew up. The children would cry which made me calm down so they to will feel ok. Ken would slam the door shut as he went out for a smoke and a walk. He would come back and there would be silence. I would get the kids to bed, have a bath and go to bed. I would pour a small glass of straight rum and knock it back just to take the edge of the hurt away and make sleep come faster. Those were the nights Ken would come to bed and hold me in his arms, they’d be no words but he would kiss me and before I knew it we would make love. That was his ‘saying sorry’ I was ok with it as the rum helped images stay away. I could get lost in an oblivion and fall into a deep sleep afterwards, our bodies entwined and at peace.
We headed into difficult times financially, I wasn’t working just receiving Statutory Maternity benefit and Child Benefit as an income which was very limited. Ken’s salary was stretched which did not make life any easier. He seemed to resent me staying at home even though we both agreed it was the best for the children. I then resented him for resenting me. He constantly gave me the silent treatment and so I would flare up in anger as I hated the rejection to my touch or the lack of response when I tried to speak about my day and what the kids done.
One evening, Ken was out of money and out of cigarettes and the cupboards were bare except for things to make breakfast, but it was dinner time! I made scrambled eggs, bacon and baked beans. It wasn’t a meal you would expect in the evening, but it was food and it was hot. The kids had eaten, bathed and in bed. I had made the meal in silence. I was fed up of the atmosphere in our home, I didn’t like it, it wasn’t us. Every time I spoke to Ken he grunted a response and I was getting so frustrated to anger, ‘for crying out loud Ken your situation at work isn’t my fault, stop dam well taking it out on me.’ No response.’ Ken I’m talking to you, why won’t you lis’ and before I could get the whole word out and finish my sentence, he got up with a fit of rage and flung his plate at me as he shouted ‘SHUT UP SHUT UP’ I turned to get out the way but the plate smacked me at the back of my head and I dropped to the floor. The next thing I knew I felt warm water trickling over my face, Kens voice mumbling quietly ‘look what you made me do’ look what I made him do?! I felt dazed and then it sunk in, I was knocked out. Ken had never hit me before. My mind was swirling with thoughts and then a wet warmness brought me back to reality, he knocked me out but he loves me, I know he loves me, he used warm water to wake me up and not cold. Ken knew how much I hated cold water on my skin; surly he cared enough, love me enough to use warm water, didn’t he? I looked up and the tears rolled down my face in silence. I didn’t, couldn’t say anything and Ken seemed too ashamed to. I got up slowly looked at him and brushed passed. There was baked beans and eggs in my hair, I wanted a bath. A hot bath to wash away the pain, yes not the food, the pain.
The tears fell with no effort, what the heck just happened? What was happening to us? We’ve now resorted to this. I ran the water my eyes blurred, the bathroom steaming. I stripped off my clothes effortlessly and stepped into the bath one leg slowly at a time it was scolding, once that leg adjusted to the heat, I put my other leg in and stood there. I held on to the sides of the bath and bent my legs slowly to immerse into the hot water. I couldn’t feel how hot it was, I was numb. As I sat there I whispered, ‘he used warm water he loves me, yes he loves me off course he loves me, he used warm water, I’m his wife, he asked me to marry him, I never forced him, he used warm water, yes he loves me, he didn’t use cold water, he used warm water.’ And so the mumbling continued whilst I sat in water that was too hot for me to be able to move.
I slipped down into the water once it got bearable and drifted off to sleep. I was awoken by Ken, I don’t know how long I dropped off for but the water was luke warm and all the back of my hair was wet. He called out my name and shook me. At first I forgot what had happened but it came back. I looked at him blankly, reached for my towel and got out the bath. I had no words, no energy to dry my skin. My towelled dressing gown was hanging on the back of my bedroom door and I reached for it and put it on and wrapped it around me. Crawled into bed and curled up like a foetus.
There would be no intimacy tonight to apologise. My thoughts swirled around seven words that wooed me to sleep… ‘He Used Warm Water, He Loves Me.’
To be or not to be
Either be locked up in your inner me
Or rejoice in being set free
Can joy be found in rain?
The constant sound, pitter patter
Increasing louder as it hits the windowpane
Joy knocking on the inner pain
Breaking down walls of shame
Let me go
Is it I who holds you, or you me?
There is an exit door that lights the way for you to see
But your eyes are wide shut!
Still trying to figure out how to fight your enemy
It is in fact a memory
You have found love in your new family
A sweet love that beckons and asks politely ‘marry me?’
Did I hear correctly?
You said yes wholeheartedly
Well I’ll be…
Footsteps walking out one two three
The day draws closer
It’s the month of September
Heart tremors as you think no one remembers
Walking down the aisle wearing a watery smile
It is just life trying to steal your joy
Playing with your mind like a lifeless toy
Turnaround and see
The pews are filled with friends and family
Do not let your mind attack you so ferociously
Declare your vows, exchange of rings
Say I do and hear your heart and spirit sing
Embrace this next stage in life
Beware, It will not always be free of strife
To have and to hold until you grow old
Will be your greatest testimony
To be or not to be…
It is time to set yourself free
Now joined together in holy matrimony
To walk in fair weather between anniversaries
But remember the rain
Not every shower is a blessing
In your joy, be ready to face the pain
For in these times you will need to press in
To be or not to be…
Real love is the key
Unlock your inner me
Sweetheart, love and be loved and set yourself free
Nadia was my everything. I stayed at my parents home for the first two weeks and mum pampered me. She did all the cooking, all I had to do was sleep, breastfeed and get used to motherhood. I had friends and family visit us over that time and my bedroom soon looked like a florist! Ken was besotted and displayed more love to both me and Nadia. She was so small, weighed six pounds four and a half ounces at birth which was a perfect little new born size.
I moved into my new place after a few weeks passed, and Ken finally moved in also. We were finally cohabitating as a cute little family and I was more than happy.
Kens son Daniel visited every other weekend and in the summer we all went to see Ken play his beloved sport of cricket if the weather wasn’t to bad. There was a day that we drove to take Daniel home and as we journeyed back Ken & I got into a conversation about life, our wants and desires, what we expected out of our relationship. I loved speaking about the future, it all seemed like a fairy tale, me, Ken & Nadia and no doubt a couple more children. As a young teenager, I always imagined having five children because I felt I wanted to form a happy bond like my siblings and I finally had once I grew up; but my children would be different, I would make sure they bonded properly and played together nicely from an very early age and have them close in age so one would not be spoilt over the others or teased and left out as I was. Ken wanted to get a degree in his field of work and eventually get a promotion. I wanted to return back to work as a Chef once Nadia was walking and talking. He also spoke of his parents looking forward to retirement in the West Indies but there one desire was to see him settled down. They were really happy that we had become our own little family and seemed to be getting on quite well. His parents loved me too, we got on rather well and Ken and I visited them often as well as spending time at his sister and brothers respected homes, they were all married. Ken mentioned that his parents expected the same for him and as we had Nadia he didn’t want to be anywhere else with anyone else but me.
‘So Maria look you know how I feel about you and I want to make this more solid especially to make my parents rested before they leave. I know your mum has also been making a lot of hints also about us getting married, so how about it… do you want to put up with me for a lifetime and get married?’ What did I know at nineteen about proposals? I knew there should be some magical experience surrounded by romance, flowers and the man down on one knee, but this was Ken; the man that took my breath away and had my legs like jelly for months, the father of my first beloved child. How could I possibly say no. I remember the day like it was yesterday. I sat in the car speechless, literally. I said yes but it was a yes with disbelief that I heard correct; did he really ask me to marry him? I searched his face for clues trying to read his emotion, was this a serious talk, real talk, just a chat talk, talking thoughts or was he actually asking me…ME! Who would want to marry me? Was he having me on? Immediately I felt unworthy. Ken felt and saw the doubt in me too, he knew I struggled with self-confidence at times when it came to relationships due to my past. Then I heard his firm voice that resonated down into my soul which took the fear and disbelief away ‘I love you Maria, will you marry me? ‘a smile broke out of my face and I felt my eyes fill with water ‘Yes, a hundred times yes, off course I’ll marry you, I love you so much.’ Ken reached over to his glove compartment and took out a small box, he opened it and there it was, the most beautiful gold diamond cut ring with a single diamond in the centre. He planned this, he brought a ring with intentions to propose, he meant it. Why would he spend money and go through so much trouble had he not wanted to do this? It was no act, this right here, right now was happening. One of my memories in life that will never fade. Ken placed the ring on my finger and kissed me gently but passionately.
Our parents were most excited at our news and marvelled at my ring. My mum looked somewhat relieved and I’m sure it was the fact that I would no longer be a young lady with a child out of marriage, although she loved Ken, deep down she did not like our lifestyle (not that she was a church goer) but she was set in old school ways. Kens parents were staunch Christians and attended church every week without fail, so they too were relieved and pleased. The wedding was set for later that same year to make sure Kens parents would still be around. I spoke to the vicar of mums local church which happened to be the same church my sister Cam and also my brother Teddy got married in, he was happy to do our ceremony.
What were we doing? I relied on Cam and mum to put all things, Ken was in charge of sorting out the reception… music and drinks. Our parents paid for the hall, there was no need for caterers back in those days, the best cooks out of our family and friends were designated a dish to cook. Just the basics in everything, no fancy table pieces just a nicely decorated top table and gift savers on each table setting which was normally gift-wrapped sweet almonds was needed.
My cousin Shantel was to be my chief bridesmaid and my niece Cams daughter a bridesmaid, Kens son Daniel was our pageboy and my two little cousins who were twin girls were to be my flower girls. Mum and Cam went with me to a bridal boutique to try on some dresses to see what complimented me. The dress we all liked had a price tag that made us hold our breath! We left smiling knowing that mum was going to make my dress and she would add the gemstones and pearls to the dress which was lacking in the dress I tried on. Cams job was to make the bridesmaids dresses. I was such a lucky girl to have two seamstresses in my family.
Over the months that followed we fell into a nice routine and grew in our parenting, loving each moment with Nadia and filled with happiness at her growth and little milestones expected at her age.
My paternal grandfather passed away. Did I feel sad? Somewhat I guess, after all he was still my granddad, but news of his passing brought back visual memories of his indecent kiss and the fear I felt towards him afterwards. Questions yet again arose, why? Why would he do such a wicked thing and abuse the love I had for him? There was an avalanche of stories that fell out the closet after he died and the true revelation of the life he lived was exposed. My poor grandmother was such a sweet woman and to think that she lived in a kind of bondage under the umbrella of her marriage made me sad. Granddad had done many sexually indecent acts as a spiritualist minister by ‘anointing women’s bodies with oils!’ well you may think what’s wrong with that? It was the kind of anointing that was the problem.
Grandma had never travelled on a plane in her life and my dad sent for her to come for my wedding. She was to come for three months to give her a well needed break and for us to shower her with love. Everyone was excited about her pending arrival; she was loved dearly by all.
She arrived in time for Nadias Christening, which was a very small occasion, mostly because I’ve never believed in big parties for such a holy event. The church was the same that would be used for our wedding and afterwards we came back to my parents home for refreshments.
Two months after the Christening, it was to be my special day. The day I waited patiently for. I was to become Kens wife. I was not just a ‘baby mother’ just a girlfriend or fiancé, I was about to have status. I knew of quite a few school friends that had babies but were just in a boyfriend girlfriend relationship living separately, more often the girl still living at her parents’ house.
The night before our big day, Ken left to be with his mates, and I stayed at mums. Bernell and Toni came over and we had a girlie night helping Cam and mum hand sew on the last of the diamantes & pearls to the bodice of my bridal gown The girls got ready to leave so I could settle down to sleep as I had a huge day ahead. But how could I sleep, I was so anxious. I couldn’t think, was everything ok? And then a frightful though came, what if everyone forgot and didn’t turn up! Cam laughed and said we will still have a big party and eat all the food… I knew she was being funny, but the butterflies prevented me from laughing. Mum ushered me out the room and told me everything would be just fine and to stop worrying and get to sleep and to remember how happy I shall be. Now that made me smile. No sooner than my head hit the pillow, I was asleep.
My eyes opened with the burst of light through the curtain, it took me a few seconds to recollect my thoughts and realise that the day was the ninth of September, and the biggest grin lit my face and I bounced out of bed. Cam stayed over too and I ran in her room shaking her awake giggling. She turned and smiled as she saw my excitement and said, ‘let the day begin.’
Bernell had taken Nadia with her the night before and Ken was with his best man. It was decided by us both that we would not call each other under any circumstances unless however there was an emergency with Nadia.
First stop was the hairdresser, and as I feared, things started to go wrong. I stood at a locked door, I mean shutters down kinda locked and I began to panic. Where was Donavon? We spoke about this day, the time I would come, the style I would have, oh and tat was another thing; I forgot the tiara at home. He had told me to bring it along so he could style my hair around it. Oh well what could I do. I just had to wait; I mean how late could he be to open up??? My appointment was booked for 8.30am and here was Donavon strolling towards me at 9.15am with a smile that told me he had no clue he was late.
‘Hi morning darling, how yuh going, have you been waiting long? I tried to breathe in a less frustrated rhythm as I answered, ‘Don we agreed 8.30 remember? It’s my wedding day and I’ve been a nervous wreck waiting for you.’ ‘Oh Shit!! Oh Gosssh, Maria I sorry eh, come come farst leh we do dis quick, nah worry yuhself, girl I clean forget.’ Dons Grenadian accent was singing through with his excitement. I smiled as we were now on the same page and he knew my schedule. Well a bride was meant to be late right!?
I called my brother Curtis to pick me up to save time on the train. He drove just over the speed limits to get me to mums to dress. I had no complaints with his crazy driving at all.
Mum stopped me in my tracks as I raced through the front door, both hands on my arms and she told me to stop and breathe, just breathe. I took a couple of deep breaths in and exhaled. There, calm. We went upstairs and I showered. It was refreshing feeling the water cooling my skin, I was relaxed somewhat once more. I sat on the stool for mum to fix my hair with the tiara and I did my makeup myself, I didn’t want or need a lot. The dress was on, I turned and looked in the mirror and all I saw was a black fairy-tale princess. Mums eyes was springing water and I had to look away as I felt mines about to, but my makeup!
Kens brother in law Elijah was my driver as he had a Seven Series BMW but where was he? I was running really late now, and the panic started to creep back into my nerves. Kens sister Stella came running in panting saying Elijah was stressed that the car needed washing… washing, now?! What the heck was really going on, I couldn’t wait for a car to be washed and then fluffing around trying to fit its ribbon. No no… ‘Curtis I beg you, use your car it’s 1.35 and the wedding should’ve started 5 minutes ago! Stella wait here for Elijah and meet us at the church.’ Dad and I went in Curtis’s car and mum drove her car with the bridesmaids. As we turned into the church gate, Curtis in his fluster, crashed into the gate pole. No damage was done but it was a scene from a ‘Carry On’ film! Hilarious. The Vicar was outside waiting, we apologised, and he hurried us into the reception area where we composed ourselves and my dressed was smoothed out.
The organs started playing and the doors opened. There before me was the longest aisle, each bench of seats was decorated with posies of flowers and as I looked to the rows of seats there was hardly anyone there. I choked back tears thinking people really did forget and didn’t come. I walked slowly down the aisle behind the flower girls, Daniel and the bridesmaids, which felt like a long walk of shame. I smiled the tears away as the guests took pictures as they gasped and smiled as I walked past them. I wanted to run but I fixed my gaze on Ken who looked the most handsome he has ever been and, in my mind, all I could think of was how empty the church looked, there would hardly be any wedding presents and all the food will go to waste. This day was going from bad to worse.
My mind was so preoccupied with these thoughts that the words of the vicar flew over my head like a soft breeze, but I do remember the vicars voice raised as he proclaimed ‘As you have exchanged vows before God and witnesses, by the giving and receiving of rings, I now pronounce you husband and wife, you may kiss the bride.’ Ken raised my veil and tenderly kissed my lips and I felt I melted like I did the very first time he kissed me outside Panamas night club. Everyone cheered, the sound made me look towards the guests and I couldn’t believe my eyes, the church was packed! I chuckled inside and the relief was immeasurable. Typical… black people and time keeping!
There was a short musical interlude as we signed the register and after the vicar said a few words we turned to leave as Mr & Mrs Sajor.
My fake smile I had walking into church hiding tears was replaced by a huge grin, all teeth shining, holding Kens hand and feeling like his queen. The church had a beautiful garden where we took all our photos. Elijah was waiting by the front of the church with the shiniest ribband car that looked spectacular. Inside there was a small pale with a bottle of champagne on ice and two champagne glasses. We escaped the noise of voices, the greetings the extensive smiling, I honestly thought my face would stick! I didn’t realise how much being a bride had you as the centre of attention and this was just the beginning.
The speeches were heartfelt, and my dad had a few dry jokes that everybody seemed to laugh at. Ken’s uncle Sam’s first words were to shout out ‘Who Made The Saltfish, it was absolutely amazing?’ my uncle had made it and it truly was delicious. In fact all the food was amazing and there was enough for everyone and more.
After we cut the cake and took more pictures the tables were cleared, and a dance floor was made visible. Ken and I had our first dance, then everyone joined in. The rest of the night was simply wonderful. Good music and lots of drinks, Ken did so well sorting that out with his brothers and his bonified group of friends.
The reception had finished at 11pm and Kens best man and friend from school days Mark suggested an after party back at our flat, and so a group of friends and family gathered back at ours and partied until a little after 3am. I had conked out by then I was totally exhausted. What seemed to start off as a disastrous day soon overturned into a glorious one. Everyone eventually left and Ken threw himself on the bed next to me and we looked into each other’s eyes, we both smiled in silent agreement, no wedding night specials tonight! We fell asleep cuddled up close and slept sound into the next day.
I awoke first and the whole world felt brand new. I was new, yesterday I was Maria Skinner and today I awoke as Maria Sajor. I woke up Ken with breakfast in bed, I couldn’t wait to go pick up Nadia and head to my parents to open all our gifts as I saw we had loads.
Ken had other ideas, he set the breakfast aside and reached over and caressed my body from my neck down to my toes, my mind slowed down as I became intoxicated by his touch. Our breathing escalated into a deepness that you eventually could no longer hear. There was silence, the only thing I heard was the friction of the silk sheets. I knew I was alive by the surrender of my body that danced in according to his.
Let the music play.
Are we ever ready?
When our parents are too strict
You want to talk but the atmosphere is thick
Best leave the boat to rock steady
No sense moaning about sitting alone
I wanted this
To feel like a woman loved
Now my womb is in bloom
But lonely in the days stuck in a bedsit room
Rubbing my belly I smile
New keys and I have a place of my own
Dookie Dooks look how far you’ve come
I didn’t think you could be decently touched
And loved by a genuine man
What they did was meant to scar you
You don’t fool me though
I am you
And feel everything you go through
I am a crying soul
Your inner me
Fighting off your enemy
Yes all those untold memories
One man comes along
Singing a new song
Hypnotises you to think all wrongs have gone
But have they?
Let that pain strangle your brain
Don’t let those images stay to drive you insane
With every contraction let it be a distraction
Oh the pressure, the pain the strain
Again again and again
Breathe in a methodical rhythm of Entonox
Float in another universe
Separate from the excitement
Loosen your body
Let it pass through
If I let go
You can let go to
It is not just new life that disconnects from you
One last thrust
All the pain of labour and the past
She’s here, at last
What joy, the unbelief, you gasp
How can such excruciating pain birth happiness?
Your lover wipes your brow
Surly it will all be okay now
The pushing has ceased
May the beauty of love increase
And your innermost find peace.