Friday, 4 December 2020

DEALING WITH LOSS: STILLBIRTH AND MISCARRIAGES



 Welcome to our first in your face tête a tête.

As I said to those who watched my video, Chanty’s Banter will discuss difficult issues head on as best as I/ we can.

This first discussion comes from my personal experience after the birth of my daughter who was born asleep. Born asleep means she was stillborn. It has been 10 years and I feel slightly strong enough to talk about it.

This is my Story:

After going through a very healthy, no complications pregnancy, the baby at every midwife's appointment and scan was doing very well, until a fluke phone call from Nigeria turned my life around.

Sadly that caller is now with our maker. May her soul rest in peace. The call came out of the blues from an old friend who had never called me before. Living abroad, away from your family, calls from Nigeria at odd times sets our hearts racing. And that call was wrong!

After exchanging pleasantries, the next sentence was "sorry oh for wetin happen to your mama dem" What was my next response. Wetin happen to my mama dem? And then the phone went dead! I tried calling her back, no way. I called everyone in Nigeria no answer. Panic then set in. My aunt I lived with at the time was very upset that lady called because my waters broke not long after.

I later found out my mum's house was robbed. Thank God no one was hurt, but things got stolen, like mobile phones, so communication was grounded. Because I had only just migrated and trying to find my feet, everyone was told not to let me know. My family members were furious when they found out I was informed without their knowledge, and the eventual outcome.

In the panic after my waters broke, the ambulance was called in, my blood pressure had shot through the roof. A condition that had been controlled all through the pregnancy. It became apparent I had gone into premature labour.

You know that confidence you have, because you are in a UK hospital they can treat anything? Well that was short lived because Rochdale Infirmary where I registered for convenience told me they had closed their premature babies ward. Even if she came out ok, they will do nothing to keep her alive. Looking back, I wish I had chosen Oldham Royal. Maybe we'd have had a better chance.

At the time, if I had been advised by a professional to have the baby immediately and she will be transferred to a bigger hospital I would have done. All I was told by a midwife was, if she can hold on till your consultant arrives on Monday (this was weekend mind you) to transfer us to Oldham Royal. And I was "holding on" through serious labour pains. Doctors came and went to take me into the labour room, I objected. Until a heart monitor was done and indicated she had stopped breathing. I could not hear that strong rhythm anymore then I realized to stay alive, I had to go into the labour room. My thought process was anything but rational at that time.

She was born naturally, a very beautiful girl I named Shauna-Mae. I was begging the midwife and doctor, crying desperately to please wake her up when she was put on my chest, nothing was done at all. Then I had to undergo surgery for the placenta to come out, as it was a difficult one. My word, pushing a baby out is one, nobody told me about the placenta.

I woke up in recovery with Shauna-Mae in a tiny Moses basket, dressed up as if she was asleep. You do not know the meaning of grief until this hits you!

That day, I was anticipating hot fish pepper soup as is traditional in my part of Nigeria. Sadly it wasn't! It was cold, scaly and unpalatable. The one thing I expected to give me brief comfort fell short! That was the start of internalizing my pain. At that point all I needed was my mother, my family or anyone who truly loved me.

It was the onset of serious grief. Grief that I cannot describe because it came with emptiness and shame. Shame because I felt like a failure. I failed at the one that being a real woman means and I failed to save my child.


Being member of a Nigerian church, I had to put up a brave face every time, because the next thing you hear after explaining, you lost the baby. "Don’t worry the one that will stay will come" Stop crying for the one that's gone it might hinder another child wanting to come bla bla bla.

In my head I was screaming. I want to cry, I need a hug, I need someone to tell me it is going to be ok even if you grieve. Cry and mourn your loss it is natural. No! It did not happen. The one person who gave me that support is a girl called Eve. I met on a Facebook interracial marriage group. She spoke of her loss, and I opened up to her, she was the only one who encouraged me to cry it out and not play that game the community has set for us to believe in, or else I will end up depressed. She even sent me a poem. A very sad but encouraging lines.

Did I feel supported by the church community I thought I was part of? No! Did the pastor call me to pray with me if he had heard of my bereavement? No! Except for the few people around who knew. I got NOTHING! No comfort whatsoever. I was even ashamed to cry in front of them.

No questions how I am doing, just those same "another one will come". I had to keep up the face of the strong black woman. But I was dying, crying, screaming. I needed to grieve in the arms of my mother, my aunty, a friend or even a church counsellor.

When I eventually did cry my eyes out, I did it well away from where I was staying. I followed Eve's advice, read the poem she sent me. I was on own at my nephew's while he was away in Nigeria. Did it help? At the time, yes.

I have learnt to live with it, I have learnt to cope with the emptiness losing a pregnancy brings. That is one aspect of grief women try to deal with, most people do not understand.


As members of the African community, we must learn to accept that miscarriages and stillbirths are as great a loss for us women as losing a child. Because we did not know that child alive or get to full term does not mean there was no bond. There were plans, made, names given, dreams of holding those babies and even what their future might be like. To face the emptiness is indescribable. Clothes that they will not wear, toys they will not play with, an empty crib. These reminders that are in our homes till we are ready to let go.

My advice is, please allow any mother to mourn her loss the best way she can. Unless she says leave it be, please give the mother of a stillborn baby and a miscarriage the same kind of emotional support you would give to the woman who lost a grown child or baby. Mentally, such support helps us move on a lot quicker. We are only playing strong black women at such times to please members of our communities and families.

 We must try to phase out those tiny judgemental comments, e.g. "e never do?" "na she be the first?" etc.  Comments that sees women internalise pain, only to end up depressed and deeply unhappy. If this happens, most of us will heal sooner whether we go on to have children after or not.

10 years is a very long time for one to feel confident enough to open up. Shauna-Mae is buried here at the Rochdale cemetery. We visit her grave now and again with fresh flowers as I did on her would have been 10th birthday. I remember how shocked my midwife was to see it was only me at the funeral as she expected a lot more people to be with me for support. I saw so much sadness and pain in her eyes for me that day. I can only imagine what her thoughts were.

Feel free to share your experiences, ask questions and make suggestions. This is Chanty's Banter join in….

 

 

3 comments:

  1. What a story ������������dropping down my eyes �� as I know and understands what your going through.
    My story I had two miscarriages
    First one was 10 weeks I cried my life out .
    My pastor told me was because I was not married enjoying the benefits of marriage. 2nd was twins went to scan the could see two sacks but no yolk. At 8 weeks i started bleeding �� I was so scared �� went back to hospital . I was confirm going through miscarriage.
    Again I cried I screamed from the hospital . I looked at my partner face all Hope was lost as he couldn’t say a word . Now I told my self no more as I could not go through the pain each time I see my friend baby �� I laugh in front of her and later I cry my heart out . 2018 I went to see the doctors and explain to them I asked to be referred . I was told in the Uk you need to have 3 miscarriages before they can refer you , well I fake one miscarriage just to be see ( I know not a good thing but I had no choice)
    The doctor now refer me I start seeing gynaecologist to fine out what is going on with me .
    Nothing really 2019 i find out out tubes where blocked . I went to Nigeria told my mum she said go and do massage I did massage for 3 weeks and I went for hsg any tubes were still blocked. Came back home to the Uk . All hope was gone after two month I got pregnant

    I was so scared very worried thinking if both tubes were blocked which means another miscarriage coming .


    Story of my life
    At 8 weeks at 2 am I felt this massive drop on me . Blood �� cloth I cry and cried at this time I was married my hubby was in Nigeria . Was just home with my two boy 14 and 12 . I packed all the blood and went hospital and I was told baby was still in , we could hear baby heartbeat .

    We for scan baby was seen I was over the mood .
    I was been looked after every week at the hospital .
    Now Covid came .
    Another problem every day I was watching the news for updates worries took over me . I was so scared of Covid . I keep telling friends to stop sending me video or messages of Covid.
    On the 16 of April I came on Facebook saw. Video of a pregnant woman with Covid . That night I couldn’t sleep blood pressure went high and 4 am my water broke �������� I pregnancy was just 24 weeks .
    Ambulance came took me .
    Immediately I went to see doctor the man said cs baby �� leg is coming out . I cried and I said to the doctor please and please can the call another doctor to come and check me because I can’t feel the baby down there .

    Well this time I was surrounded by 10 health care workers . One putting some in my hand to get me ready
    .
    I was so glad when the doctor I asked for cane and checked she said no baby is okey . No cs take her to admission room . I prayed in 4 days I was discharged to go home Baby was fine breathing . 7 days was was in side without baby . Midwife told me I could stay up till due date depends on baby .

    I called my mum she told me yes but there’s a high risk baby can also die without and without monitoring .
    Well after talking with my mum I went high I was lost I started crying �� my baby couldn’t stay in my belly anymore ambulance came took me to hospital . At this point I said father let your will be done ✅������������������ immediately we arrived my beautiful baby girl ���� came out without CS but she was taking into intensive care she was born extreme Preterm 25+1 weeks. (6 month and 1 day ) she stayed in the hospital 70 days ������������ Doctors don’t even know if she will be okey . They said one day at a time . To God be the glory she is alive with us . We called her Trinity Blessing . Today she is 4 month corrected month . So sorry for long story just letting it out . I feel you and I understand you . It’s really good to cry �� it out .

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  2. Chanty, I feel your pain as if it were mine. May your baby continue to sleep in the bosum of the Lord. Thank you for sharing and educating us, especially our community. Amen🙏🏿

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  3. Thank you for sharing your painful story, you shed light on what women silently go through and have to endure while the rest of their world walk on by. It is time for the African communities wherever they may be to advocate mental health education- beginning with embracing dark times in peoples lives, and stop this mentality that if something bad happens to someone they must have offended God. Hence, the shunning and emotional torture shown. Let love conquer all, you have done well for the enlightenment.

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