You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.
My son turned one in July 2014. His second year was incredibly rewarding. He was, and remains so, the funniest, most boisterous, strong-willed child we had ever known. He is at once headstrong and tenderhearted. And finally, I was enjoying motherhood. I woke up genuinely excited to start our day. What seemed like insurmountable tasks before, had turned into simple gratifying times together. I didn't mind having breakfast with him, taking walks with him, putting him down for a nap, giving him his bath...all of it. And he wanted to be with me. He would gurgle and squeal whenever I would enter the room. He put his arms tight around my neck when I carried him. He would stroke my face as I held him in the rocking chair, lulling him to sleep. It was glorious. I couldn't thank God enough, and I still can't. My son and I became inseparable.
As unbelievable as it sounds, I began to yearn for another little one. No one was more bewildered than me. I was sure I was done. Like, done, DONE. Becoming a mother had nearly killed me; and I was certain I couldn't possibly endure that heartache ever again. But here I was; here we were, my husband and I, joyfully praising God when those two little pink lines formed on another pregnancy test.
I was at my prime. I was cured of the postpartum depression, praise Jesus. I had lost the baby weight and then some. I was working out four to five times a week. Our marriage was flourishing. I was peacefully settled in our decision to have me quit formal employment and raise our children. Life was beautiful.
My pregnancy was once again, so very easy. I didn't feel pregnant one bit. I wasn't fatigued, or nauseated, or anything. I felt like myself; still exercising, eating as usual, sleeping as usual. I daydreamed about our life with two children. I started to window shop for baby clothes. I was certain we were having another son; that mommy intuition thing. I couldn't wait to see Tito play with his small brother.
It was a Thursday morning. My husband had worked quite late the night before and decided to sleep in, leave for work a few hours later than usual. Tito and I absolutely love those mornings; having baba around to have breakfast together, run around, play with toys...it's great. A little while before he left, I decided to jump into the shower. I was smiling to myself the whole time, hearing them siren-wailing as they played with firetrucks.
That's when I saw the blood.
My heart stopped. I closed my eyes tight and opened them again. Yes, it was blood.
I walked out of the bathroom slowly.
He didn't hear me. I don't think any sound actually came out.
He stopped crawling with his firetruck and looked up at me.
I opened my mouth, but still, no sound came out. He stood up, and came to me. "Love, what's wrong?"
I whispered, "I'm bleeding."
He asked my sister to take over with Tito and we walked into our bedroom. I stood there, like a robot that had powered off. My husband held my face and spoke directly at me, "Sweetheart, let me help you get dressed, we need to go see the doctor." I think I'm the one that made the phone call, asking the doctor if he was at his clinic, and he was. One's memory records interesting things. I remember very clearly coming down the stairs, and looking at everything. The windows; it was such a beautiful sunny day. The picture of Tito and I hanging on the wall. And Tito running towards me. I took him up into my arms and hugged him for the longest time. I remember his blue t-shirt. I remember how sweet he smelled. I remember him asking me, "Why are you crying mama?". I didn't know I had tears on my face.
We got into the car.
We were on Kiambu Road.
We were quiet.
Bryan had his hand on my thigh.
I was shaking like a leaf. I was freezing.
It felt like my blood had turned to ice.
I found the clarity of mind( Jesus gave it to me), to send an SOS whatsapp message to a few friends that pray to my God. I know you're all reading this. Thank you for pleading before the Father for us that day. Ade and Christine. Carol. George and Rubin. Christian and Sheila. Kamau and Eva. All of our parents. My sister Muthoni. My brother Isaac. Thank you.
Lying on the bed in the ultrasound room, I was unable to utter a word. I watched the screen,
willing myself not to look, because I knew exactly how to read the scan, but unable to tear my eyes away.
I saw it before the doctor spoke. Our baby was gone.
I vaguely remember him apologizing, consoling us. All sound faded around me; I turned my head to the wall and wept my heart onto the starched white sheet.
He gave us two options; to have our pregnancy surgically removed, because I was not that far along; or to let "nature take its course". I refused to have my baby taken out of me and destroyed in some hospital incinerator. I wanted to go home with my son.
I have no recollection of getting to the car. I don't remember anything except saying to Bryan, "I need my mom."
He took me to her pharmacy; she was there with my dad. I walked in and fell apart. I was in her arms,and we cried until we were spent. I don't think I was lucid or coherent. She gave me a heavy sedative, and my husband took me home.
I was in bed for five days. I cried until there was nothing left to cry. I refused to eat. I stopped speaking. All the while I had agonizing uterine cramps, and endless bleeding. I felt like a human coffin. My baby was dead INSIDE OF ME. It felt like a five day funeral, and I was the only one by the grave. My body had failed to protect my child, and he had died.
I don't know what happened in the house that weekend. I know Tito spent a lot of time with me; we would curl up together in bed and watch cartoons on a laptop; or at least he watched. I sat there wrapped in a suffocating blanket of grief. I spent the nights in my husband's arms, and we mourned together.
On the morning of the fifth day, it was over. My body said goodbye to our baby. I collapsed onto the bathroom floor and my heart broke. It actually BROKE. I held this minuscule human being in my hands; my flesh and blood, lifeless. I would never give birth to him. I would never hear his first cry, never nurse him. There would be no diapers to change, no hand to hold as he learned how to walk. He would never put his pudgy arms around my neck. He'd never run into my arms. We'd never splash around in a pool, have his first day of school or watch his face as he saw the ocean for the first time. Our child would never walk this earth with us.
I don't know how long I was on that bathroom floor, but when I walked out the door, a part of me had died forever. And once again, I fell headlong into the darkest of darkness.
It didn't take long for my husband to see the signs. He had battled with them for a year already. This wasn't normal grief. I was spiralling, and fast. I was consumed with a desire to go and be with my baby. I remember the genuine dilemma I felt I was in; do I stay and be with Tito, or do I go and live with his baby brother? I had nightmares; of the bleeding, of drowning, having my baby wrenched out of me. Then I would have happy dreams, of my baby and I, lying on beautiful green grass, under a robin blue sky. I was obsessed. Thank God for His mercy and grace; He once more gave me enough clarity to see things in reality. I knew I needed professional help, or I would disappear for good.
Cue in Nancy. My psychologist...the woman God sent to us. He used her in such an incredible way. She didn't discount or disregard my grief. She didn't divert me from it. She didn't trivialize it. But she opened my eyes to what it was not.
It was not the end of my life.
It was not a curse on my head.
I was not a bad mother.
I had not failed my child.
My body was not a faulty vessel.
God's love for me remained complete and unconditional.
Why am I sharing this? Why am I forcing myself to remember the sorrow, the agony, the torment? Well, to begin with, writing is cathartic for me. When I see the words, I see how God walked with me; I see clearly His faithfulness. I was never forsaken.
We are also opening our life to the world about this, because the black sea of desolation and utter loneliness I experienced was unbelievable. The friends you think will be your best ones for life; some will completely vanish. They will not call. They will not text. They will not visit. Some will even resent you for being depressed, for not communicating with them, meeting up with them...they somehow see the situation in reverse. That you're the one who has abandoned them. I have one friend that walked away after my postpartum depression in Tito's first year. She simply stopped relating with me like we always had; she became distant, actually got angry with me for no longer speaking with her, completely disregarding my disease, and how it had made me incapable of doing anything normally.
This happened again with our miscarriage. The people you have known forever, they mostly just ebb away, and you are left alone. People will meet you and talk as if nothing happened. They will say hurtful and stupid things, like, "At least it didn't happen after being pregnant for nine months." or "God will replace that one; maybe you'll get twins.", or "Maybe that child would have been disabled, God was sparing you; at least you have one baby, can you just be grateful." People actually said these things to me. I wanted to slap them unconscious.
My sisters in grief; your babies were just that, your babies. Real, living human souls. And they forever will be. If you have no living children, because they all died before they were born, Then you are a mother, to each of them. YOU ARE A MOTHER. The Almighty God has placed eternity into the hearts of man. Your child lives dear mother. They live. Just not here.
If only you and your partner or husband know about your tragedies; may God give you strength and overwhelm you with His comfort, even as you have to go back to work almost immediately, and nobody notices your red-rimmed eyes. May He hold you up as you endure the, "When are you guys having a baby? Time is running out; you're not getting any younger...", and "Where are my grandchildren?", or even perhaps, "What is wrong with this girl you married?" Because, Africans. I know how the grief pierces your heart anew each time you see a pregnant woman in the supermarket, at work, at a bus stop. I know the way you exit whatsapp groups planning a baby shower without explanation; and when asked you lie that you have a wedding to go to that day. I know about those baby clothes you have in a drawer, that you regularly take out and weep over, wondering if little hands and feet will ever wear them. I know...I know. And I am so sorry.
Show them grace, those who do not understand. Those who slice you open with their knives of ignorance and heartlessness. Show them grace. If they knew this pain, then they would know to be merciful. Show them grace...they know not what they do.
To the general public. Make it a rule from today to NEVER ask a couple when they are planning to have kids. It doesn't matter if they got married last month, or five years ago, or ten years ago. Eliminate that question from your vocabulary immediately. And don't ask them when they plan to have a second or third or fourth child. A couple's reproductive history, hopes and dreams are NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS people; just sit down. Take a seat. You have no idea how many hearts you might have broken already with these hurtful questions. People have their tears for food day and night, because they have buried children nobody will ever know. And because their wombs refuse to carry a baby. Or perhaps they have never had a positive pregnancy test. There are private burdens of pain we all carry on this fallen earth. Let us teach ourselves some tact, some tenderness, some sensitivity.
And to you that knows one who has suffered this inconsolable loss; mourn with those who mourn. Be there. Visit, cook, pray for them. Sit in silence. Take them out to a movie. Let them know they can whatsapp you at 3am. Love them. Please, love us.
Contact me if you need to speak with one who knows exactly how you suffered.
Two months after the passing of our baby, two pink lines appeared on the little stick, yet again.
God was not done with us yet.
Christian, wife, mom, doctor, and an alien on earth, on my way to the city of God.