‘I checked in to deliver, but checked out empty handed’. Here is Mama Amara’s story of loss.

A story of a loss of a child or a mother during or shortly after birth always sinks my heart and breaks it into a thousand and one pieces. These stories propel me to advocate for maternal and children health with every fibre of my being because I know the pain too well. I wrote about my story Here . You can also access the story Here as published by the Daily Nation.

Sad man
As a parent, you’ll never really “get over” the loss of your baby- gestation period notwithstanding-. But with time, you will learn to live without his or her physical presence and, eventually, integrate your loss into your life’s experience.

looking sad image
Since sharing is a process of healing, I will be posting stories from women and men who have gone through a loss or losses. It is my hope that by these women and men sharing their stories in their own words, it will help them cope with loss and also encourage those in the phase of disbelief or pain following a loss. Above all, I believe it will activate their quest to stand up for maternal and children health in their individual capacities.

 
Today, Mama Amara shares her story of loss…Please read on.

 
Sunday, 27th March, 2016. That is a day that will forever be etched in my memory. I remember waking up at around 7a.m. with some on and off cramps. I was 36 weeks pregnant but being a first timer, I only knew as much as I had read on Google and other websites so I knew that the baby was well within her time since my estimated due date was 20th April, 2016.

 

I got to the hospital just in time as my water broke. The pains had escalated and had it not been for my mum who was rubbing my lower back, I would have lost my sanity. My doctor met us at the emergency entrance of the hospital and rushed us to the maternity ward. I had not realized I was bleeding till he questioned me when it had begun. I was in too much pain to capture the urgency in his voice as he rushed the nurses to assist him.

 
At first I thought I had imagined the doctor’s words. There was no way he would say such things. Was it a test? Was that what doctors told women who were in labour to help them cope with the physical pain?
‘Mum, we need you to be strong. We will induce you to remove the baby but we need you to help us here.’ The doctor’s voice sounded so distant and far away. I didn’t want to hear him anymore. He had already passed my death sentence several seconds earlier when he said the dreaded words, ‘We can’t find the baby’s heartbeat.’

 

The pain of his words made my physical pain worse; as if someone was slowly breaking my bones one by one yet the tears would not come out. I swore under my breath as another pain rocked me into a dizzy spell.

 

Everything had happened too fast for me to comprehend and I just hoped the doctor would come back and say that they had initially not checked properly or that the ultrasound equipment they had used was faulty…I wanted an assurance that my baby was very OK.

 
I bit my lower lip as a pain management tactic. No, I would not cry. Tears would mean I believed his words… Something I didn’t want to.

 
The nurse that came to hook me on the labour induction drip kept telling me how strong I was and how much I needed to remain so. Was I really strong? What was strength in the face of all that was happening? What was the need of going through all the pain with no baby to take home with me?

 

It was the longest period of pain I will forever remember. Pain that I could not stop, a hundred times worse because I knew I was not only fighting for my life but I had lost another precious life. I had lost her.

 
‘Mum, we need you to help us help you. Right now your blood pressure is very high. I cannot take you for surgery because of your unstable pressure so just remain strong and bear the pain. It will soon be over. We are here for you.’

 

The doctor’s words no longer made sense for me. I had already lost the most important battle and I just wanted to rest.

 
Nothing had prepared me for this. No one had even hinted at it… It had always been positive messages. So how was I going to handle this? How was I going through labour like a normal mother but only to birth a dead baby?

 

Till date I think had I not been in that intense physical pain, I would have gone crazy. No one prepares you for a loss. Not even my own body knew how to deal with that level of pain so it shut down.

 
Between the time the labour peaked and my being taken to the birthing room, I was in a bubble of emotions. Anger at everyone and everything, anger at God for letting it happen; guilt for not being able to save my little girl; embarrassment for what I thought was a failure as a mother and the one feeling that at that moment I didn’t know would plague me for a long time, Loneliness.

 

I felt alone. Ironically, I had had my mum with me the whole time. She had been with me right from the onset of the labour and had not left my side at any point. Yet I felt like I was completely alone. It would take weeks before I finally understood why I felt that much intense loneliness.

 
‘Mum, we need you to remain strong for your baby. This is the one thing you can do for her.’ The nurse kept telling me as I was taken through the birthing process. After the first push, my will gave in and I felt my whole being giving up. What was the use of it all? My whole system was shutting down. The doctor and the nurses kept urging me on but I just couldn’t. I was not ready to let her go. She had been a part of me for 9 months. My little Princess.

 

‘She is losing blood fast.’ I heard the nurse say.

My energy level was very low and I was not sure if I would be able to push during the ensuing contractions. What was I going to tell him? What was I going to tell the one person who was so much a part of everything happening in that hospital room yet so physically far away? What was I going to tell the father to my little girl? My last message to him had been ‘I guess it is time, serious pain.’

 

I could feel the fear taking over and I was ready to slide into the relaxing warmth that had begun covering me.

‘Get her some glucose syrup.’ The doctor ordered.
‘Mum, you need to listen to your body during the next contractions… ‘The voice faded as the pain took over.

They had said I needed to be strong. I started saying her name over and over again in my mind. Amara… Amara… Amara. In less than five minutes she was out. My little Princess came as an angel and I knew I would never be the same again. I was a childless mother.

 
Between the time we arrived at the emergency and I began bleeding to getting me to the maternity unit, a little less than 3 minutes, she was already gone. It happened so fast that it was only a week later during my doctor’s appointment did I finally understand what had happened. I had High Blood Pressure which led to a placental abruption.

 
I look back at that day’s happenings and I can’t stop wondering what I should have done differently. My baby was laid to rest but in me I still seek that peace of mind. Through a very strong support system of my partner, close and extended family, friends and support groups, I am trying to pick up the pieces and even seek counseling.

 
Amara, the whole family misses you. Daddy still calls you his little girl and your big sister always asks when you are coming home. You will always be in our hearts, always.

 
Rest our little angel, till we meet again.

rest in peace son
Thank you for sharing your story Mama Amara…May God give you peace and make things beautiful for you. May your lil princess, baby Amara Serem rest with the angels.

About Placental Abruption (Source, baby center)

placenta abruption
A placental abruption is a serious condition in which the placenta partially or completely separates from your uterus before your baby’s born.

The condition can deprive your baby of oxygen and nutrients, and cause severe bleeding that can be dangerous to mother and baby. A placental abruption also increases the risk that your baby will have growth problems (if the abruption is small and goes unnoticed), be born prematurely or be stillborn.

 
Placental abruption happens in about one in 150 pregnancies. It’s most common in the third trimester but can happen any time after 20 weeks.

 
In most cases, you’ll have some vaginal bleeding, ranging from a small amount to an obvious and sudden gush. Sometimes, though, the blood stays in the uterus behind the placenta, so you might not see any bleeding at all.

Call your doctor immediately if you have any of these signs:
• Vaginal bleeding or spotting, or if your water breaks and the fluid is bloody
• Cramping, uterine tenderness, abdominal pain, or back pain
• Frequent contractions or a contraction that doesn’t end
• Your baby isn’t moving as much as before

Do you want to share your story? reach me on lourdeswalusala@yahoo.com OR 0720 972 893

MY JABALI IS ONE!!!!!!!!

PG ALONE COLOURED

My Rainbow baby, my little piece of heaven, my perfect piece of art from God Himself is finally one today!!!! Why should I keep calm? Why shouldn’t I raise my voice and sing a joyful and thank you song to God the giver of ALL good things Jabali included??
It was just a minute, just the other at exactly 6.55am on Monday the 18th May 2015, I gave birth to Jabali via CS…I look at my CS wound and smile, Oooh! What a badge of honour! A badge that reminds me the price I had to pay to have him, a priceless gift that came to wipe away my tears and bring the best side of me a side I never ever knew existed till Jabali happened.

young jabali

Jabali at 2 days old

Jabali is just perfect, even with the sleepless nights due to his love for nyonyo, he is still perfect….
Even with his biting when am not paying attention, my Kababa is just perfect…
Even when he insists of calling daaaad!…daddy! baba! baaaaaaa! When he should be alternating between calling Daaad! and Maaam! kababa is just perfect…
Even when he hides keys especially daddy’s car keys and throws books from the book shelf, and katata newspapers in an effort to read them, Jabali is just perfect…..

And after 12 months in the minor leagues my Jabali has finally hit the big ONE! Hold your glasses of Champagne and let’s toss to happy birthday!

NOV JABALI 2
Dear Lord, there is no way you can miss in this tribute. You and I know us very well and that is why I thank you for Jabali, your beloved child. Thank you father for the gift of his young life and thank you for his life in old age.
JABALI, May the Lord bless you and keep you;
May His face shine upon you;
May you receive unmeasured bounty of God’s Grace;
May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace;
May wickedness or evil never come even 1 centimeter near you my boy;
Son may you be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

Prince Jabali
Dear son, today you are only one but I know you will have so many other birthdays to celebrate. You may not read this now, you may not even understand for now but I want to post it online because I know internet never forgets. Baba, when you feel that life is giving you such a hard time, just come to me and I will give you a tight hug. I promise to protect you and fight your battles even in my death. No matter how old you will become, for me, you will always be my little boy!

PG AND BABES BLACK AND WHITE
Today, Daddy and I promise you unending love, undivided attention, eternal pampering, everlasting affection and endless care. Stay happy and have a happy birthday my Mighty Jabali!
In the same breathe, I want to wish Jabali’s birthday mates a very happy birthday. Baby Ariana, baby Hansel and Baby Tamara, your mummies and I are buddies. We met when you guys were in our wombs and the friendship has grown and flourished to date…by the way we call ourselves WoJ when you grow up, remind me to tell you the acronym in full lool (Remind me about lool too- I know the phrase will be so outdated by the time you understand things lool) May God favour you dear children. May He cause His light to shine over you. May He order your steps and connect you to your destiny helpers.

MUMS AND BABIES

Girls and Women between 15 and 49 years to receive FREE Tetanus Vaccine from 16th to 22nd May!

From Monday 16th to Tuesday 24th May 2016, the Ministry of Health, UNICEF, WHO and other partners will conduct a nationwide campaign on Measles and Rubella and a Tetanus campaign in selected counties. Yesterday I wrote about measles rubella campaign. You can read about it Here just in case you missed the post.

As promised yesterday, today my focal point will be Tetanus campaign. Just like Measles and Rubella, Tetanus campaign will also be conducted from 16th to 24th May 2016. The target for this campaign is girls and women of reproductive ages i.e. 15-49 years in Kilifi, Mombasa, Meru, Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, Baringo, West Pokot, Turkana, Samburu and Narok counties. Vaccination will be provided in all public health facilities in these counties and temporary posts set as immunization facilities. Ensure you visit any immunization posts near you for this life saving vaccine.
Tetanus is a serious disease caused by a toxin produced by bacteria called clostridium tetani which is found worldwide in soil, dust, feacal waste and manure. It is characterized by painful muscle stiffness and results in death if not timely and appropriately treated. Please note that tetanus is not transmitted from person to person.

People get infected when the bacterial spores enter the body through open wounds; multiply and produce toxins that cause tetanus. Although tetanus infects people of all ages, newborn babies are more at risk to tetanus due to the umbilical cord wound and weak immunity.

Maternal and neonatal tetanus is a deadly disease that can occur as a result of unclean baby deliveries or abortions and unhygienic umbilical cord practices like applying cow dung, soil or ashes to the wound and cutting the cord with unclean instruments e.g. dirty razor blades and knives. Neonatal and Maternal Tetanus deaths can be easily prevented through vaccination.

The specific sub counties targeted by this campaign are Rabai, Magharini, Changamwe, Likoni, Meru Central, Tigania East, Lafey, Banisa, Wajir North, Wajir West, Wajir South, Eldas, Dadaab, Hulugho, Marigat, Mogotio, West Pokot, Pokot South, Turkana West, Turkana East, Loima, Samburu North, Transmara East and Transmara West.
Why these specific sub counties?

The Ministry of Health monitors the number of cases of Maternal and Neonatal tetanus occurring in each sub county. Each case of Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus is reported to the Ministry of Health and using this information those 24 high risk sub counties were identified and therefore they are targeted for the Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus campaign.

Why Does this Campaign Only Target Girls and Women?
Maternal and neonatal tetanus are common fatal consequences of unclean deliveries and umbilical cord care practices. Vaccinating women protects them and their babies from tetanus. When girls and mothers are vaccinated, they pass the immunity to future babies.

Neonatal tetanus is called ‘the silent killer’ because the disease and death occur within the first 28 days of life; most infants suffer and die at home, without ever coming in contact with a health provider. The baby suddenly stops suckling, his/her body becomes stiff and irritable. The stiffness can be so strong that it may break the child’s spine and death follows in most cases.

Tetanus vaccine therefore protects against tetanus when a full dose is taken at specified time intervals. A girl or woman will need a full dose of 5 vaccinations whereas children should get at least three doses of the tetanus vaccine given in combination with other vaccines at 6 weeks, 10 weeks and 14 weeks for maximum protection.

Tetanus vaccine is very safe, however few and mild side effects such as redness and swelling at the injection site, slight pain from the injection and slight fever may occur in rare situations.

Globally in order to eliminate tetanus the following strategies are used:
Routine vaccination of women during ante-natal clinic visits
Vaccination of babies.
Supplemental immunizations that target girls and women of child bearing age and – promotion of more hygienic deliveries and vaccination of babies.
Promotion of hygienic and safe deliveries.

According to the immunization programme administrative data (2015), coverage of Tetanus vaccination in pregnant women stands at 61%. In order to achieve the goal of eliminating maternal and neonatal tetanus disease, the country must reach coverage of above 90%. This campaigns aims at increasing this low coverage.

My appeal today is for husbands, parents, guardians, teachers and all members of the public in those sub counties to support this activity and ensure that all girls and women aged 15 to 49 years are vaccinated against Tetanus disease.

#Healthy Mama, Healthy Baby Healthy Nation
#Every Mama and child counts!

Children between 9 months and 14 years to receive FREE Measles and Rubella Vaccine from 16th to 22nd May!

Immunization saves life. Immunization is also second to safe water, sanitation and hygiene in reducing child deaths and that is a fact.

Healthy babies plus healthy mothers equals to a healthy Nation that too is a fact.

It is also a fact that the Ministry of Health, UNICEF, WHO and other partners will from today the 16th May 2016 to Tuesday 24th May 2016 carry out a free Measles-Rubella and Tetanus Campaigns. This massive campaign targets almost half of the Kenyan population at a tune of 2.1 Billion shillings.

Measles Rubella campaign will target children between 9 months and 14 years in all the 47 counties whereas Tetanus campaign will target women and girls of reproductive age that is between 15 and 49 years but in selected counties that are at highest risk.

Today I will focus on Measles and Rubella campaign and tomorrow, by the grace of God I will give facts about the Tetanus campaign. Remember, both Measles-Rubella and Tetanus campaigns are carried out concurrently.

 

measles vaccine

A child receiving Measles Vaccine- Photo courtesy of allafrica.com

When I told my friends about Measles and Rubella vaccination, one of them asked a very pertinent question: “Why measles – rubella vaccination now?” Like my friend, I know you might be asking the same question too. Statistics indicate that there is a steady increase in the number of people infected with Measles and Rubella viruses in the country. The cases are spread out throughout the country affecting both males and females. However, females are at high risk of Rubella disease and when infected could lead to bearing children with serious birth defects; thus the Measles and Rubella vaccination now!

Anyone not vaccinated against Measles and Rubella is at risk of getting the disease but young children are at highest risk of complication including death due to their weak immunity. This is the reason why the campaign targets all children aged between 9 months and 14 years.

Please note that Measles and Rubella are viral infections hence has no specific treatment available. Disease management with good nutrition and rehydration is purely supportive to prevent complications. However, measles and rubella can be prevented through vaccination. Every child should receive measles dose at 9 and 18 months through routine immunizations. Every child should also receive the free vaccine dose during this vaccination campaign irrespective of previous vaccination status.

Health workers will not go door to door to administer the vaccine. Vaccination will be provided in all public health facilities and temporary posts near you by trained, qualified and registered doctors and nurses.Community health volunteers will however mobilize people at the households and social gatherings like markets, churches, mosques etc to visit the immunization posts/ public health facilities. All teams will have identification cards and/or aprons

Mum, Dad, Guardian, Caregiver, please ensure you visit any immunization post near you for this life saving vaccine which will be given in form of an injection in the right upper arm. The vaccine is safe and effective to prevent both diseases.

#Immunization is all our responsibility
#Immunization is a basic right.
#every child counts!

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