I remember being in a room with three girls. All of us laying in there like corpses, in our colourful gowns and fluffy slippers under our beds, looking at the white ceiling and awaiting our bundles. One by one, we would go to the bathroom to pee. But getting out of the tall beds was a struggle. It took a few deep breaths just to sit up. To actually walk to the bathroom took more than that. It took motivation to not pee on yourself. Even then, we would be walking like old people, slow and our hands on our backs.

I don’t remember the names of the girls or their faces, but I do remember the excruciating pain we all felt. Hours and hours of labour pains. Pain I’d never even wish on my enemies. Pain that made you hate everything and everyone. We took turns moaning and groaning. This other girl would shout and throw swearing words in the air. I’d find myself laughing under my fleece blanket. Laughing helped me forget about my own problems. But then, I’d stare at the blue dull walls, and all my fears and anxiety would come back.

I recall standing by the open window and looking at the foggy sky. A warm breeze brushed through my hair and blew kisses on my face. My phone vibrated in my hand. I looked at it. It was a message from Zintle:

I’ll be there in a few minutes, it read

Zintle was my cheerful friend. We were close and did everything together. I had a sister in her and she always knew how to make me smile, no matter how down I was. Hearing her voice outside my room was music to my ears. She sat at my bed side and we chatted and laughed until I had cramps in my swollen belly.

As she was telling me about her day, her voice became softer and softer, until it was silent. I couldn’t hear a single word she uttered. All I started hearing were my thoughts, flooding my mind. I thought about the situation I was currently in. I was a single lady, living alone. The father of the baby was absent, and the thought of raising a child alone was frightening. I thought of my family. I hadn’t spoken to them ever since I moved out a year ago. Tears flooded my eyes and my vision became blurry. I tried so hard to fight the tears, but they were as stubborn as a Xhosa gogo.

Zintle immediately stopped talking when she saw tears flowing like lava down my cheeks. She sat next to me and held me in her arms.

“Shhhhhh. Hey, what’s wrong? Talk to me.”

“I am just so tired, chommie. I’m scared, anxious, nervous… I don’t want this baby! I don’t want him. I’m not ready to be a mother. I can’t do this. I should have done an abortion…,” I wept.

“I know you don’t mean that. That is just the depression talking.”

“I wouldn’t have been in this situation if we had never gone out that night. If I never got together with that guy. Why, why did I get together with that guy? Why didn’t you stop me?! Look at me now. I look like an over inflated balloon. “

“Come on, chomza. What did we say about regrets? Listen, everything is going to be alright. You and this baby are going to be alright. Remember, you are not alone. I’ll be with you every step of the way, okay? Trust me, everything is going to be alright. You are going to be a great mom. Your baby is going to be lucky to have you. Now please, stop crying. Otherwise, you will upset the baby. Remember, what you feel, he feels it too. You will be okay. Everything will be okay. I promise you,” she comforted me.

Everything happened so quickly after that. One moment I was walking to the bathroom, when my water suddenly broke. The next moment I was strapped down like a mad person and pushed to the theatre. I was as naked as a big baby. My hair was soaked wet, and so was my body. The pain I was feeling was unbearable and I just couldn’t stay still. When we entered the theatre room, the cold was like tiny needles on my skin. But it was nothing compared to the pain in my abdomen.

“Miss Lungelwa. What we are going to do now is inject this needle in your lower back. It is going to sting a little bit, but afterwards, you won’t feel a thing,” the doctor smiled.

And indeed, the pain went away. The numbness followed. It was like taking off your bra or your brutal heels, after a long day. That is how I felt. Relieved! And I just laid there, surrounded by nurses and doctors in plastic suits and masks. I could only hear whispers as my eyes glanced at the shiny ceiling, as I drowned into my fears and miseries. The whispers were followed by a loud cry. I snapped out of my head and looked at the nurses. One nurse was holding Enzo.

“It’s a boy,” she smiled and showed me.

He was so beautiful. Sadly, I couldn’t hold him at that moment. But I got the opportunity to do so later on. And when his tiny body was in my arms, I felt butterflies in my stomach. When my eyes met his, I immediately fell in love with him. For the first time in a long time, I felt joy in my bones. Happiness filled my soul. In that moment, I knew that everything was going to be alright. Enzo was the light at the end of the tunnel. He was more than my bundle of joy, he was my bundle of hope.