Every Little Life Matters
I had just returned from a three week holiday with my family. I waited patiently for her for 5 good days. Unfortunately, Aunty Flo never came. On that fateful day of the 5th of May 2017, I sat on my workplace toilet seat, firmly holding onto a just - used pregnancy test strip in both hands with eyes partially closed. Part of me was wishing for this to be negative and the other part was not too sure of what to expect. I had never missed a period for that length of time before if the reason was not a pregnancy. Even though I prayed for this test not to be positive, when I finally opened my eyes, there was a heavy blue cross indicating high levels of pregnancy hormones meaning I was already 2-3 weeks pregnant. Upon spotting the results, I cried, not because I didn’t honestly want this baby or appreciate this precious gift of the womb. My crying had many dimensions. First of all, I was not actively trying for a baby, I didn’t ask for him either. I found myself asking, “Lord, why now”? Obviously, God’s ways are not our ways and neither are his thoughts ours. I also remembered that sometimes, God answers past requests. He may not necessarily answer our requests when we asked for them but may do so at a time when one least expected. I remember, I tried for a baby in 2015 but when it did not happen just after a few months, I gave up.
Secondly, when you have had a preterm baby before, the chances are high that you may still have another. 12 years ago, I had my boy at just 24 weeks gestation. Due to his extreme prematurity, he sustained a grade IV intraventricular hemorrhage which has left with him some forms of disability. For those who have disable children, you’ll surely agree with me that there are a lot of difficulties and challenges associated with taking care of a child with complex disabilities. I cried not because I hated my baby but because I was not financially ready, the pregnancy was not planned and my past experiences of having an incompetent cervix which may lead to miscarriages, having a preterm baby. There was also the normal fears or worries any woman will have when she has a disabled child and is expecting another.
With these thoughts on my mind, I felt this strong urge of energy all around me. With tear-stained cheeks, I still forged a smile, which I always do anyway.
At this point, it dawned unto me that there are many women out there who have tried for a baby for so many years, who have used all possible means to conceive, there are some who are willing and capable of spending any amount of money or any means one could possibly think of to have a baby or to get pregnant. There was I crying because I’ve got a positive test in my hand.
I was now in a dilemma of whether to keep this baby or not to. I had to think deeply and fast about this. Just a few weeks before then, I was having a discussion with my friend and I was telling the friend that I have always said I have to be careful not to get pregnant since I will be turning 40 because if it happens, I was not sure I was going to have the baby. Unfortunately, the baby was already forming in me without me knowing yet. How sad and regretful this was.
As I sat contemplating on what to do, I felt like I heard a voice saying to me, I quote,
“Look Claris, where have you kept your faith”? God has a reason for everything, get up, wipe your tears and go back into that office and cry no more for, God gives when he wants”. This voice continued to echo in my head even when I had gone back into the office and sat at my desk. “You are married, you’re a strong and a brave woman, you’re energetic and capable of so many things given your past experiences. You have to choose between these two scenarios and anyone you choose, be ready to face the consequences for the rest of your life:
- Do you want to get rid of this baby just because you are financially broke, it was not planned and you are afraid you won’t cope with the challenges that come with childbearing coupled with the different challenges you’ve faced with your other children? If so, then be ready to you spend the rest of your life regretting and feeling guilty for getting rid of an innocent baby?
- Alternatively, do you want to embrace, accept, love and cherish this baby knowing fully well that in life, there will always be challenges, difficulties, which will eventually come to pass someday?
When that voice stopped I smiled to myself and said, I choose the latter because challenges, difficulties, struggles will always come to an end. But guilt might hunt you for the rest of your life. Thinking again, I remember that when God puts one in a difficult situation, in an unplanned or unknown journey, He doesn’t abandon you there, he gives you a to guide you all the way. One has to bear in mind that no child has ever chosen the circumstances UNDER WHICH THEY are conceived or which they will be born, whether planned or unplanned, out of wedlock etc. Once it has happened, we learn to embrace and to accept them.
That is how the journey of my Cherished, Beloved Healer started where everything went so smoothly until the first week of September. For some unknown reason, I started leaving the house with a second handbag which contained my maternity notes.
During pregnancy, there is always the tendency for a woman to pass urine often. At around 4 am on that fateful day, the 7th of September, I was woken up by this sudden urge to pass urine. Which I did but on getting back into bed, I felt a trickle down my thighs, so I thought I did not dry up properly. With that thought. I went back into bed and drifted off to sleep almost immediately.
Just before leaving for work that morning, I went into the toilet just to empty my bladder. In the process, I felt like something had shifted downwards inside my cervix. I went back downstairs and quickly googled the early signs of cervix dilation. Some of the signs were familiar.
A little voice told me not to go to work and to rather go to my hospital for check-ups just in case something was going wrong. Instead, I reassured myself that I work at another hospital and if anything is wrong I’ll just walk into A&E and consult. I left for work. But on my way, I kept thinking of what I felt. Honestly speaking, this is one of the times I have been beating myself for not listening to that little voice. Maybe my baby could have lived only if I had listened to that little voice.
I had training scheduled for 10 am. I decided to go to the toilet first. Behold, on wiping, I spotted brown chocolaty looking discharge. I instantly knew something was going wrong. I remained calm, quietly walked back into the office, took my car keys and left as if I was going for the training. Instead, I went for my emergency handbag in the car and went to A&E.
I was seen at the Day Assessment Unit where I had a speculum examination and the sad words of, “I am Sorry” came echoing in my ears as if I was dreaming but in reality, I was not. These words immediately sent me down memory lane way back to October 1st, 2005 where I was informed I was soon going to have my 12-year-old son just at 24 weeks +5 days gestation. When she said she was sorry and that my cervix had started dilating, I immediately said to her “but the cervix can be stitched”. Unfortunately, she said another sorry and that there had been a leak at the back of the membrane and it was too late. I excused myself to go to the toilet and behold, all my waters broke and everything emptied right there in the middle of the room. At some point, I thought someone was pouring water down my spine but in reality, it was my amniotic fluid flowing out. I do not know how and when I found myself on the floor. I cried and I begged for this water to stop so that baby can survive a few more weeks but nature had already taken its course. At this moment I felt like the world was coming to an end. This all took me by surprise and I was in complete shock. I was helped off the floor by a midwife, a nurse and a healthcare assistant and changed in to the hospital gown where I was wheeled in to Willows ward (a quiet and comfortable room specifically allocated for parents who are about to lose their babies). At this point in time, (21+5 Days), I was told that my baby was going to be delivered since gestation was too early, the baby was not going to be saved. But since, I was not in active labour, they were either going to terminate the pregnancy or consider conservative management. I chose to go for conservative management since I couldn’t agree on terminating a baby that was actively moving in me. The funniest part of it all was that I was not in any form of pain. I was just gradually losing my baby. I was admitted and put on antibiotics but after two days of admission at this hospital, I was discharged home with an appointment. It was about 40 minutes’ drive from this hospital to home. Unfortunately, upon arrival home, the baby had started coming out. We immediately rushed to my main hospital where I was examined and behold, what I thought was the head of the baby, was his foot coming. Still, no labour pains had kicked in. I was admitted and placed on further antibiotics and the same explanations were given. I still maintained my decision of Conservation management. My life was at risk but in me, I was secretly praying that if this baby stays longer in my womb, he may have a high chance of being saved upon delivery. Unfortunately, with no amniotic fluids surrounding the baby, there are high chances of infections and complications on both mom and baby. I stayed for two more days with baby’s foot hanging out in between my legs. I could not sit upright, so I was always lying on the bed. Unfortunately, I became very ill on the 10th of September and still no signs of labour. I could gradually see my tummy disappearing in my bear eyes. The doctors finally decided that I was going to be induced and since baby still had a heart rate even after 4 days of no fluids, they were going to give me two tablets: one to stop baby’s heart rate and the other to induce labour. At this point, I could feel and tell from my body temperature that I was critically unwell and the doctor had warned me as well. It was quite apparent that baby was not going to be resuscitated no matter how long he lives if he is born alive. I gradually came to terms with this and still refusing to terminate the pregnancy. After a long discussion with the doctors, it was finally agreed that I was not going to be given the tablet to stop the baby’s heart rate. So they inserted the tablet for induction. But I was warned that it is no guarantee that my baby was going to be delivered alive. Even if the baby never lived, the doctors would have given the chance for the baby to live and nature decided otherwise. Within 8 hours, there was my little boy making his grand entry into the world as if it was his right time. He weighed 485grams and 18” long. My Davi-Jayce lived for 1h20mins. We cuddled for a while and I handed him to his dad. He was absolutely gorgeous, where he finally had his last breath while I was struggling to deliver the placenta. The placenta could not be delivered, I was therefore taken to theatre for evacuation. On leaving the theatre I had lost 2 litres of blood and had to have three transfusions for the rest of the days I was in Hospital.
Even though my baby never lived long, I had a great moment with him. I had the shortest but most treasured moments with him as Compared to my other children. With my first baby, I never got to know her or feel her. It was just a lump of blood at 8weeks. My second baby, I never had the chance to cuddle or to bond with him from birth because he was immediately whisked off for resuscitation. My third boy, whom I had at full term, I never enjoyed my first moments with him because I was too busy crying for having given birth to a full term baby for the first time. But with Davi-Jayce, I was ready to welcome him, to say hello and goodbye almost at the same time. The moments I spent with him felt like an eternity and I will forever be grateful to the doctors and midwives for taking care of me and for giving me the chance to have my little boy alive.
In Conclusion, most journeys in life are not chosen but when I found myself having to walk along some of the most thorny lanes of life, not once, not twice, I was broken, I crumbled, but I never stayed there feeling sorry for myself and asking why me. After I gave myself enough time to grief and to understand the purpose of God in my life, I thanked him and asked him for a roadmap to go through this journey, for, without him, I could not and still cannot do it myself
I may never know why God gave me this baby and had to take him back after a short while. But I do know that someday Davi-Jayce’s purpose on earth and in our lives will be revealed.
When all these happened, I was overwhelmed with a roller coaster of emotions; shock, anger, resentment, denial, confusion, blame, shame. I did not know what to do. I let myself to grief in every possible way that I could. It is exactly one year today, the 11th of September that baby unexpectedly came to this world and unexpectedly left us. The pain is still there, as they say, it gets better by the day.
If there is one thing I have learned so far with the loss of my baby, it is that “whenever we are faced with any form of tragedy or loss, we can try and learn something from our experiences, no matter how sad it is and then we use our experiences to help others in the long run. It is quite certain that we may not be the first or the last to have experienced child loss, but it is certain that we may be the first person to make a difference in someone’s life when they have lost a baby”.
I have also learned that when we talk about our angel babies and share our experiences about child loss with others we are gradually healing our own selves, we are raising awareness and educating the masses and by so doing, we are also helping others to heal and maybe understand their situation better.
I also discovered that there is a lot of importance laid upon the death of an older person as compared to the loss of a child, either at birth, in the womb or otherwise. Same importance has to be given, whether someone dies as a baby or as an older person because, life is life no matter how small.
Finally, during the loss and grieving of my baby, I also discovered that there are so many statements which people use with the aim of consoling grieving families. Those using these statements mean well, but they do not realize that most of the statements are quite painful. Some of which are: 'You have to get over it and move on'
'God does not give you what you cannot handle'
'It was just water that poured but the calabash is still intact'. Etc.
I am, therefore, sharing my story to encourage, inspire and give hope to others that they are not alone, to give a voice to the voiceless, to lay emphasis on the fact that child loss is real and will become less emotional or less sensitive when we collectively start opening up about our experiences, and finally, to highlight the fact that “Every Little Life Matters”. It doesn’t matter how old or how long the gestation period was, but all that matters is that these little lives have to be treasured.