The news about the Duchess of Cambridge took me back 36 years, when we were living in a remote village just off the Jos plateau in Nigeria.  I was expecting our second child.  We had had 5 months studying the Hausa language, and we’d been sent to this spot because almost nobody spoke English, and it would force us to speak Hausa.  We had a two year old, but no electricity and no running water.

Wase Rock

Some weeks before, the President of the country had been assassinated, and there was a manhunt on for his possible killer.  As our local village was the birth place of his clan, it was only a matter of time before the army arrived.  The first I knew, I was carrying the supper out on to the verandah, when I saw a line of armed soldiers walking steadily up the hill towards the house.  They jumped over the low fence and walked straight into the house without speaking to me, which they proceeded to search.

The compound had numerous other buildings – a disused garage, a small guest house, a radio hut, chicken huts … they demanded that we unlocked every one so that they could search.  In the end, they left.

This happened another three times the same evening.  The last group, of soldiers and police, ordered us outside at gunpoint.  I stood there, nine months pregnant, clutching our little daughter, and praying like mad.

They talked angrily at two of the local staff, who were terrified, and then, thankfully, left us alone.  But our doughty ‘senior mish’, who had been in the country all her working life, came over to our house and asked if she could sleep there.  We were all rather shaken up.

A week later, it was my turn to do the radio.  This was a daily task at 7am, and was the only means of communication with headquarters.  Each station was called in turn.  On that particular morning I was already having some contractions.  I took our daughter with me where she sat on my lap and did some drawings, and hoped I wouldn’t have a contraction when my call came through …

A couple of hours later, as the contractions were coming more regularly, we decided to go to the hospital, which was 90 miles away.  As we were about to set off, one of the student wives arrived.  She was an English woman who had married a Nigerian student.  She looked awful – barely able to stand, and almost yellow in colour.  She confessed she was pregnant, but was so ill with morning sickness that she could hardly lift her head from her pillow.  Could she come to the hospital too?

So we were a motley crew:  me in the front with contractions, Kay in the back trying to survive without throwing up too much, our little daughter in the back with her,  Hub driving like mad, and all of us praying.

Especially when we got to the road blocks.  These were always set up at times of political upheaval, and there were 11 to be negotiated en route to the hospital.  Normally the soldiers would ask for papers and look in the car; sometimes, it could get unpleasant.  At one stage one of them got nasty … so I did a bit of extra-loud and dramatic groaning, and Hub pointed out that we were going to the hospital … and it worked.  An answer to one of our many prayers.

I did make it on time.  Our daughter was born safely in hospital that evening.  The next day, with the hospital wards filling up, Kay was brought into my room and we spent the next week together – me recovering from a forceps delivery, and Kay on strong medication for her sickness.

Strange fellowship!  And one that makes me empathise with what Kate is going through.  Although I suspect her hospital is a little more luxurious than ours  

(image of Wase Rock from http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=1214069  )  – near to where we were living.

Please note this story is copyright.  Any mention of it must be linked back to this post and my name.



  1. Rather you than me. It’s bad enough having a medical emergency, but being at gunpoint all those times must have been terrifying.
    I love it that Daughter no 2 has looked in as well ! 😀 xxx


    1. :)) yes, and she promptly posted it on her Facebook – so it ended up with lots of comments from her mates – they were all kids together in Nigeria! Hard at the time but you look back and think 8|


  2. Interesting post. It must have been a bit scary at the time. You can certainly emphasise with the princess. They didn’t want to announce the coming birth until Christmas, but had to let the world know early. Great memories!


    1. Yes, poor things … but there was always going to be a furore, and so they might as well get it over and done with now … at least being inside hospital she can’t be followed everywhere!


    1. Yes, I take your point about the style … there are days when I am really ‘into’ writing and know that it’s coming out well … and days when I know I am just putting it down, like this one. It didn’t used to be like this but I guess it’s a matter of age … or opportunity … or needing to find my ‘voice’ again.


  3. I disagree, a well written book with a good story will always sell and you don’t get many stories like yours around anymore. I’d send a synopsis to a few decent publishers and I bet you they’d be interested.xxxxx


    1. :)) unlikely, I feel … it’s incredibly hard to get a book to sell any copies these days … unless it’s 50 Shades of course 8| which I shan’t be writing :no: :))


  4. GOOD GRIEF! Phew!!!! You had me chewing my nails and clinging to the seat of my chair reading that!
    AND ….any comment doesn’t do that story justice….where to start??????

    Assassinations, soldiers, guns, searches, no running water or electricity, tiny child, pregnant…VERY pregnant….wow, I totally agree, you need to write a book and write more posts re your adventures!


    1. :)) I’m hoping to … if the uni course goes ahead it should help me brush up some skills – the book market has changed out of all recognition with the coming of the internet!


  5. Wow what a very amazing experience to survive – being at gunpoint and searched and then having to travel so far in labour… must have been pretty scary… so lucky you all had such faith to help you through…:yes:

    Yes you should definitely write that book… or several books!

    I have to say I had appalling morning sickness – well 24 hour sickness – gruesome…

    Poor Kate having to go through everything in public as you say…


    1. My Mum had awful morning sickness too, but was so desperate to have babies she put up with it 4 times … 8|

      As one of my friends was wont to say, God is a good midwife!!


    1. Not brave really :no: it’s just ‘what happened’ … that’s when you have to be very very sure that God has called you, and so you can leave the outcome in his hands. I’m thinking seriously about writing a book, and have signed on for a distance-learning course at Exeter uni to help me brush up some skills.


  6. I remember too I had to ask the doc for some pills with my first pregnancy to stop the sickness my daughter weighed nine pounds so perhaps Kate is going to have a biggish baby bless 😉


  7. Extremes of anything are not nice; sympathies to any woman who has that level of sickness in pregnancy. You probably don’t care where you are, you just want to get help when it is that bad.

    You certainly did not go in for easy options, did you. :no:


  8. OMG…you do not realise what it is like in 3rd world countries.

    Morning sickness is awful and I feel for Kate….presurer is on her as well to be carrying the heir to the throne.

    P xx


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