intimate spaces

Can we talk… no, cry about miscarriage?

There is something naturally unifying about pain. It just brings the oddest people together. I would have given anything not to share a common resource with this one woman. She unnerved me, made the bitch in me shine like a diamond even in those days that I had just prayed for the strength to stay sane.

Early this month, that usual aggression in her just seemed to have…vanished. I looked at her and I felt an energy of guilt and…pain in her aura move to me. I rubbished it for the first few days—o pride! — then one day I gathered courage to share pancakes with her.When she allowed me in, I asked her whether she was okay. Tearfully, she told me she had miscarried her baby. At that moment, I forgot all about our fights because I knew what parts of her needed touching and hugging: the one that had hoped her pregnancy had lived to term. She did not need to explain to me how she felt. The guilt that maybe she could have taken care of herself more. The questions of whether there is something inherently wrong with her that mother nature would allow her to carry a life. The sense of loss when you look at the walls you painted, the clothes you bought in readiness… the names you had chosen. The anger that wells inside of you when people remark “you will get another child” as if you could just replace one baby with another.

The loss of a child for a woman is personal, and deep it becomes this abysmal emptiness that accompanies her forever. Life grows inside a woman, and it is life in its totality. It is memories of what she felt for the man with whom she made the child- whether he treated her right or nor, whether he was a gentle or passionate lover or not, and many other things. It is her life revolving around her baby…which hospital will I deliver in… do I have enough money for it, no? let me work harder in the first trimester. It is the name she choses and what prophetic message those names have for her child. It is imagining how it would look like, with her foul temper or her father’s. You can imagine how hard it is for her to let go of the physical body of the baby and all these other things.

This year, I have had these epiphanies and great contrasts as I carry out my job, a flash of second that just made me realise how beautiful children are, not just because of the way they are but the process of bringing them into this world. Very close friends of mine have fought for dear life in the process of trying to have a baby; then I have encountered painful circumstances of children who have been abandoned. I was talking to Rita Munyae( read the story here), an administrator of Childline Kenya, a non-governmental organisation that, among many other things, rescues children. It is housed in Lower Kabete in Nairobi, and my heart broke about stories of children who have had to live there because someone did not want them.

As a journalist, maternal and child health has been one of my key subjects which I cover with great gusto and activism. From hospitals that use data to reduce the mortalities, to poor referral systems in Kenya that kill women. I had never thought about a miscarriage as one of the topics in the maternal health conversation.

Yet in intimate spaces where women talk to each other, pour their hearts out about their scars and heartbreaks, I have heard these stories that move beyond the statistics. It is not just about a health system, it is a society that places so much pressure on a woman to have babies without realising the emotional, physical and spiritual investment that goes into making a baby. It is easy as ABC for a majority of women but there is that negligible percentage that is medically disadvantaged where each second they are pregnant they are just rubbing shoulders with death. When they miscarry, this very society cannot begin to comprehend the loss and they make remarks like “thank God you did not see or touch it”. Except she did, in her soul and spirit because she would crave things she did not even want before. She heard it kick…move. In these intimate spaces, women spoke of guilty they harbour for not being able to give their partners the opportunity to be a father. They cried about a desire to pray more imagining that whatever sins they had in the past could be forgiven so that mother nature could allow them to have babies too.

So this month, I will have a multimedia story of women who will tell you about their experience in miscarriages. I would like to provide a platform for women, and men as well, to talk about this loss. There is no knot too tight we cannot undo if only we allowed ourselves to acknowledge that we wanted something and it did not want us back and that hurt.

Should you want to share, email me okeyoverah@gmail.com or vokeyo@ke.nationmedia.com. I will call you and we will talk.

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