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.
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.
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.
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)
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
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