But Amani didn’t come back, and that’s when it truly dawned on me that my daughter was gone. By the way, my post-partum caesarean wound was never checked.
Laying the Blame on Someone
I tried getting answers for the cause of her death. Where did she get sepsis from yet I had had a caeserean section and all my urine tests during my antenatal clinic visits had been normal? I had so many unanswered questions –compounded by the fact that we never got the lab results.
I started blaming everyone and everything. I was mad at the nurse who allowed me to labor for 12 hours only to be booked for a CS for a reason that was detectable upon examination.
I blamed the surgeons -perhaps they had not sterilized the theatre well as I had noticed another lady being wheeled out as I went in.
I blamed myself –how could I not have noticed that my child was unwell even after being in medical school for two years? How could I have stayed with a baby for two weeks and not notice anything? I blamed my husband. I blamed the health system. I basically blamed anything and everything.
“You Can Still Get Another Baby…”
Only my immediate family and close friends knew about Amani’s birth and death. So for those who didn’t know, I never bothered telling them. While I did receive good support for the first month, people soon moved on with their lives. I think I expected people’s time to stop just like mine had. But it didn’t.
When I went to the shops, I would receive all kinds of advice and some statements would really crush me. “huyo hakuwa wako…” “utapata mwingine tu” “usitumie family planning pata tu mwingine haraka haraka…” as if getting a child is a button you just click and voila! here comes a baby. People’s comments were very insensitive.
Meanwhile, I would find myself crying in public, in matatus, or when I saw pregnant women or babies. When someone who didn’t know that Amani had died asked how she was, I would lie and say she was fine. Later on I would cry myself to sleep as the guilt was too much to handle. I had not yet accepted her death.
I had sacrificed a lot to have my baby Amani, including taking a break from my studies. But now there I was -out of school, with a caesarean wound to heal and no baby to show for it. I also had no job to keep me busy. Aside from that, I was home alone most of the time as my husband was away at work.
My Suicide Attempts
I would cry day and night. My sleeping patterns were erratic…sometimes I would not sleep a wink, other times I would oversleep.
In addition, I had a hard time concentrating on small tasks and remembering things. There was a time I was boiling milk and I sat on the couch to wait. I don’t know how but I completely forgot and the milk boiled over. It was the smell of something burning that startled me. The milk had burned till the sufuria had turned completely black that I had to throw it away.
I just didn’t want my life anymore. I wanted out. I didn’t see the need to continue living. One day I took a mixture of pills –hoping to get away from it all. I don’t know how much time passed; I just woke up with a heavy head, I was seeing stars and I at the same time had crazy ringing in my ears. When I looked down, I saw vomit – turns out I had thrown up beside the bed. I woke up, cleaned up my mess and never uttered a word to my husband. That was my first suicide attempt.
Two weeks later, I tried taking my life again, this time round with many more pills. Unfortunately or fortunately, it was the same like before. I didn’t die. I now became more determined to complete my mission that I started googling other effective but painless ways to commit suicide. I just didn’t care about my life anymore. I even stopped caring about how I crossed the roads –I would do so very carelessly.
One time, I joined my schoolmates for a hike to Mt. Longonot. It was two months and some weeks after my caesarean section. I wanted to have fun and see if my life would return to normal again. We hiked Longonot and even went round the crater 7.5km. When I look back to this event, I now know that it is God who preserved me. Anything could have gone wrong with that CS wound considering that I was never examined since being discharged from the hospital with my newborn.
Death Now Comes for Me
My turning point came on 18th August. I was still suicidal and had not quite gotten the right way to exit from this life. As I was having a meal, I suddenly started choking on a piece of potato. It had lodged itself in my throat and I was struggling to both breath and to cough it out. Something beyond my control was now trying to kill me!!
In the midst of all that I managed to call out to God, asking him to forgive me for all my sins. I no longer wanted to die. Then I suddenly coughed out the potato wedge and THAT WAS MY TURNING POINT.
It was like a bad dream that I woke up from. I thanked God for saving my life yet again. That incident made me realize that God was preserving me for a purpose and I decided from within myself to continue with life as I discovered what this purpose was.
My Neighbor Commits Suicide
I went back to school and continued with my studies. It was not easy though as my classes were in KNH where the UoN’s College of Health Sciences is located. This was the place I last saw my daughter Amani. I always asked God for strength but sometimes the sadness and tears were too much. I would cry, but God’s Grace was abundant and I was able to pull through this period.
In January 2016, a neighbor of mine lost her infant twins suddenly. She couldn’t take it and committed suicide, unable to deal with the loss. Learning about her demise took me back to my own experience when I lost my daughter, when I too couldn’t take it anymore, to the point of depression.
I went to check on her husband to urge him to seek counselling because I imagined what he was going through –losing three close family members at the same time. But I didn’t find him. Other neighbors told me that he had traveled to the village for a ‘cleansing ceremony’ as well as attend the burials. Apparently, in his culture, anyone connected to a person who has committed suicide has to be cleansed as it is deemed a curse.
This case really bothered my heart and in May 2016, I started reaching out to bereaved moms and their families. Child loss grief comes with a lot of issues like stigma, little or no bereavement support as child loss is belittled.
Some moms are shunned as they are deemed cursed, while others are accused of having procured abortions.
Others go through the pain of being thrown out of their homes as another wife is brought in.
Still, other bereaved moms lose their jobs if they don’t go back in time. They are not allowed to grieve because, after all it was ‘only a four month pregnancy’ or ‘just an infant’. In fact, some wonder why they fuss so much about ‘something that never was’. I wanted to give such women hope.
I reached out to my now two colleagues; Mary and Wairimu and we would visit moms who’d lost their babies. With time, we saw the need to have group meetings, which we now hold on a monthly basis. During these meetings, the women are taken through different sessions by trained counselors. Many issues are handled from the grieving process to relationships, work and self-care.
About Empower Mama Foundation
The name Empower Mama came up as we sought to empower these women in various life aspects as we believe that an empowered woman is a resource first to her family, then to the society. We address the bereavement support issue first then the empowering follows.
Despite the name “MAMA”, we have gone ahead to include the bereaved fathers as they grieve too just as the mother does though they grieving is different.
Resources have been a challenge as we rent a space for our session. However we thank God for the volunteers and professionals that have been working with us. Volunteers, individuals and corporates are welcome to join us in our work, and supporting us where they can.
My Rainbow Baby
My second born Ivan was born three years later after the loss of my firstborn Amani. He didn’t come to replace her as I always wish I would have my two children around me. People always see one child but I am a mother of two. I always thank God for giving me the chance to hold a baby in my arms again. Ivan is my joy.”
And that’s Vivian’s story. Very heart-warming and emotional. Thank you Vivian for sharing your story and for the noble work that you’re doing. God bless you and your ministry.
Through Mummy Tales, I am committed to raising awareness on different issues surrounding maternal and child health. If you, just like Vivian have a motherhood experience that you’d like to share with other moms, email me at email@example.com
Facebook: Empower Mama Foundation
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