I still remember the day I got married. The one image that would be etched in my memory was of the amazing life I would have with the love of my life. The image of two little human beings who had his brown sparkling eyes, running around the house was more than bliss to me. That was the dream, and I would have the most supportive man by my side every step of the way.
I figured that getting pregnant would be easy since no one in my family had had a problem of conceiving.
Months passed, then a year. Then two, then three, four and five.
Worry lines were starting to show on my face, I drastically lost weight and I eventually started getting depressed. My hubby was as supportive as ever, but I felt like I was letting him down. I mean, I come from a society where I’m at some point expected to be a mother; to have a lineage of succession, a contribution to the big family tree that would meet over in upcountry, slaughter goats and chicken and awe at the beauty of family. My husband’s side was beginning to think I was cursed and they didn’t want me anywhere near their homestead. I was getting desperate – I thought my husband would leave me for someone with more curves, as they as perceived to be more fertile – I thought he’d leave me for someone who wasn’t a disgrace as I was.
I hated getting my period. I would sit in the washroom and curse the blood, the cramps and the pains. I would scream in anguish at my womb for letting me down; this was a monthly reminder that I wasn’t with child and I resented every moment of my existence.
Then 5 months later, I was pregnant.
I was thrilled far more than words could express and for the first time in over six years, I felt my husband look at me the same way he did on our wedding day. The same way he looked at me with those sparkling brown eyes that he hid behind his glasses.
This was it. I was a mother now.
But it didn’t last long.
As weeks passed and messages of congratulations kept pouring in, my body felt different. I was carrying life in me! After six years I was no longer a disgrace. People who would shun me and my husband, knowing that we had been struggling to have a baby would now greet me with open arms and as much as I wanted to shun them as they did to me, nothing would dull the sparkle I had of soon holding my baby in my arms.
Hubby always used to joke that I’d be one of those mothers whose water would break in the weirdest of places and sure enough, it did happen. At the candy store section of the supermarket as I looked for my favourite chocolate. But it wasn’t just water, there were streaks of blood on the floor.
How I got to the ICU was all a blur to me. I could only remember white walls, antiseptic-filled rooms and the sound of scissors. The clear and contrite sound of scissors. And the reassuring voice of my hubby who was half-covered in my blood. Then. Silence.
The sound of the scissors haunted me and I woke up screaming for my baby. I’d named him Jason.
I got hysterical, trying to yank out the gazillion wires linked to my body, my body that no longer had that cute baby bump, and fear rose up to my fingertips. I had just lost Jason.
We laid him to rest on my birthday. Hubby liked the name Jay more so we had the name ‘Baby Jay’ engraved on his tombstone. According to the doctors, the umbilical cord was wrapped around so tightly around his little neck that it strangled him. By the time I got a car from the supermarket to the hospital, there was nothing that could be done. They also explained that the blood was from Jay trying to break free from the distress of the cord and in the process, there was damage to my uterine wall. This meant a very low chance to conceive another baby.
The nine months I had with Jason, even when I hadn’t had him made me feel complete. I felt so privileged to carry that little boy inside me and I had a sense of peace I couldn’t explain. Now I was childless, again, and yes the stares kept coming and the hushed whispers grew louder which I could learn to ignore – but no one showed me how to deal with the pain and the loss.
No one told the people around me that they shouldn’t say that Baby Jay was in a better place, because the best place for him was with us, his parents. His place would be in my arms, cuddled up in the adorable warmers I had already bought him. His ‘better’ place was in his father’s arms on a Sunday afternoon. Hubby would look into those identical brown eyes of his and they would just shimmer in the Sunday sun.
No one told people that grieving was a process, a process that needed time and a shoulder to cry on. And no one told them to not try and use a similar story of loss to equate with mine. You do not get to do that to a grieving mother.
No one told them to stop referring to Jason as ‘the child who died’ and the fact that my birthday carried a pain so great, I would spend it in bed. No one remembered that my birthday coincided with the day we buried Jay and that broke me inside.
No one got the fact that even if I would have the blessing of conceiving another baby, none would replace Jay. Getting another child, as precious as they would be, would never replace the thought of Jay. And despite the fact that it’s been almost 5 years since I lost Baby Jason, he will forever be my baby.
I wish my friends and family walked with me on this journey, instead of leaving all those nights where I lay crying on the bathroom floor for Jason and my hubby had to carry me up to bed like a baby. I will be eternally grateful to that amazing man and I’m blessed beyond measure to say that despite the fact that there are days that I despise myself for losing his child, he still looks at me like he did on our wedding day.