Watching My Daughter Writhe in Pain

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Words By. Nikitta Adjirakor

I have this recurring nightmare. 

I see myself years from now, watching my daughter writhe on the floor in pain, her hands placed against her pelvic area, crying, screaming and waking up the rest of the family.

I will squat next to her as my mother does to me now, wringing my hands frantically as she does because I like her, will not know what to do. Whereas my mother’s worries stem from her confusion about this pain because she herself has never experienced it, I will be paralyzed with fear because my nightmare would have come true. My daughter has chronic pelvic pain. 

I will see myself in my daughter. Her pain will remind me of days spent curled up on the floor crying and drowning in painkillers. I will watch her as I drive to the hospital, praying and wishing for relief but knowing that relief, if any, will be short-lived.

When she is calm not because she is healed but because morphine brings with it its own illusion of perfection, I will hold her alternating between relief and anger. Relief that for a moment, I can pretend my daughter is well and anger at my knowledge that this relief is short-lived. Ultimately my anger will win because I will see the creation of a cycle. 

My nightmare doesn’t end because my present nightmare hasn’t. 

Last week the doctor told me to have a child. 

“Have a child and everything will be fine. If it doesn’t work, you can have a hysterectomy”, he said.

I wanted to ask him if my daughter will be spared this fate. If truly childbirth is an answer to my present nightmare will it merely be a moment of transference – from me to my daughter. 

My womb is faulty and therefore, perhaps my daughter will not exist. In that case, I merely prolong my present ordeal and spare her this dreadful fate. But I want her to exist. I want the feeling of her pudgy little fingers in mine. Just once, I would like for an ultrasound to show a living being in my uterus rather than point out its flaws and imperfections. Yet, perhaps this desire will be the beginning of my nightmare. 

I will be my daughter’s curse. I will watch her as my mother watched me except, in those moments, I will feel complicit. If I couldn’t help myself, how will I help her?

Nikitta is a Ghanaian academic and a creative writer. Her works focus on women’s health, trauma and belonging. Her recent works include the documentary “A Thousand Needles” and the blog “More Than Period Pain”, both narratives on women’s health. She writes regularly on and on Instagram @nikitta_dede.