Wanjiru Kihusa is a blogger, writer and student. She runs the blog http://www.wanjirukihusa.com/ where she writes about family issues. Wanjiru is happily married and had planned to start her family early. Unfortunately she had 2 miscarriages and her experiences sensitized her to the plight of many women, who have had miscarriages but they don’t have get to talk about it, to get counseling and to get the compassion they need during their time of need. She has a message she would like to share on miscarriage to encourage women to come out and talk about their experiences. Wanjiru has started a campaign called #StillAMum. The campaign encourages all of us to support women who have gone through miscarriage and also those who are unable to conceive.
What is your story?
I have had 2 miscarriages. The first one was terrible. I was 5 months pregnant and was really sick for over a month. The doctors couldn’t figure what was wrong with me. And then one day at 3am we were at the Nairobi Hospital emergency. I was in so much pain. By noon, I was in labor but our baby girl was dead. And then 5 months later we lost another pregnancy at 6 weeks. It has been a tough journey for us. If this is what “In sickness and health, for better for worse means” I get it.
How did it affect you?
I can’t even begin to describe the pain physically and emotionally. We were devastated. The day before we were buying diapers and planning a life for our child. Now were being asked if we want to bury our baby or let the hospital keep her. Physically, I healed OK – after countless blood tests and antibiotics. Emotionally? Well, I am still healing. You can never get over death. Times heals the wound, the scars remain.
Still A Mum, what is that about?
Still A Mum is an organization that I recently started to redefine motherhood. We believe that:
1. Children are a gift from God. So, whether you spend 7 weeks or 40 years with your child, you are still a mother.
2. It does not matter the method you use to get a baby (provided its legal), you are still a mum. We therefore demystify adoption as a solution to families going through loss.
What good has come out of your pain?
A lot. For starters, we are having this conversation. Getting people to talk about miscarriages and other taboo issues is a great start. Secondly, Still A Mum was born out my pain. Now, more women are talking freely about their loss, more are seeing counselors. We’ve done good things but we have so much more to do.
You are advocating for law on compassionate leave for mothers who have had miscarriages and maternity leave for those adopting. Tell us more about that.
The law is very limited when it comes to issues on motherhood. For instance, the employment act allows 90 days as maternity leave. It is however silent on miscarriages and adoption. This means that a woman who has had a miscarriage is at the mercy of her employer. If her firm gives her 3 days, that’s what she gets. Same with adoption – unless the company has good internal policies you can only take regular leave. This applies to paternity leave as well. It’s time the law became more sensitive to issues like infertility, surrogacy, adoption and miscarriages.
Why should women talk about their miscarriage experience?
As long we don’t talk about something, it feels like we are the only ones going through it. Speaking out on miscarriages will stop ridiculous myths such as witchcraft which means less stigma for women dealing with child loss. It will also help us see how as society we can help these women and families.
How can we support women who are dealing with this loss?
You see, from the moment a couple decides they want to be pregnant there are many things that happen. Some couples find they have to try for longer than others. Some find they can’t conceive for various reasons. Others get that yes on the pregnancy test but the journey is hard and they lose their baby. Others make it to the finish line only to deliver a stillborn child. This process is hard and we need to support those arounds in any way we can. For starters, stop nudging people asking them why they don’t have a baby yet; you don’t their story.
Check out the website Still A Mum to find out more about miscarriages and how you can support the Still A Mum project