By Wanjiru Kihusa
Last November I lost a baby. I was 20 weeks pregnant at the time. After 3 days in hospital and countless pain killers and antibiotics, I went back home. One week passed and the reality of the situation hit home. Every time I went to take a shower, the absence of my baby belly became even more obvious. My husband hid the diapers and other baby stuff we had bought so I wouldn’t be upset seeing them. (Awesome man I tell you!)
After a couple of days at home, I began to ask questions. Questions like “why me?”, that really have no answer. I began to look back at my pregnancy to see if I had done anything wrong. I had eaten right, I was taking my vitamins and any other stuff my doctor recommended. So, what happened? Where did I go wrong? I couldn’t find no valid explanation.
I turned to the internet to look for answers and what I found astounded me. I found so much information I was overwhelmed. I learnt that there are different kinds of miscarriages. I found out that miscarriages are caused by a myriad of things. However, what shocked me the most were the statistics. Here are a few:
Studies reveal that anywhere from 10-25% of all clinically recognized pregnancies will end in miscarriage. This means that best case scenario, 1 in every 10 women will have a miscarriage or worst case scenario 1 in every 4 women will get a miscarriage. Each year in Africa, 4.2 million miscarriages are estimated to take place. The ratio of miscarriage rates is 22 per 1,000 women. This estimates to one miscarriage per seven live births. Studies also show that 1 in 100 women will experience recurrent miscarriages (three or more successive miscarriages).
In my quest to know more, I also searched for support groups in Kenya that helped women who have gone through miscarriages. I called several counseling centers and got the same response, “we don’t have a support group for that and we don’t know of any”. I looked online and found only 2 Facebook groups where women shared their stories on loss. This was not what I expected. There are support groups for a lot of things all over Kenya but none for women who have gone through miscarriages. Why?
After looking around for a while, I came to this answer. Women don’t talk about miscarriages. It was only after I shared my story on my blog that people began sharing their stories of loss with me. A friend called me and told me that she had lost 2 pregnancies at 24 weeks, another related how she lost twins when she was 7 weeks. So, why didn’t they talk about it to people? I wondered. After about 2 months since my loss, I figured it out. I finally understood why women don’t talk about their loss easily.
Motherhood is at the core of every woman. Every woman hopes that one day when she feels ready she will be a mother. No woman ever imagines that they will never bear children. It’s not something you think about. I got married and always assumed that when my husband and I were ready, we would get pregnant and get a child. I never for a second thought I would lose my baby. When you go through a miscarriage, it tugs at your utmost fears. What if I will never get children? There is a desperation that comes with it. You begin to think, “Am I not woman enough?” You watch other women get pregnant, go to hospital and come home with a bundle of joy. You look at how they seem to do it so effortless and you wonder, “What is wrong with me?” When you think of trying again you are terrified of the thought that it will happen again.
To women who have gone through miscarriages, all I can say to you is to hang in there. All is not lost. Refuse to lose hope. I have lost 2 pregnancies and am still hopeful that one day I will hold my baby in my arms. When you feel inadequate next to women with children, remind yourself that you are still a woman, no less than them. Begin to see your situation in a not so dark way. Think, “adoption is not a bad thing. I will be giving hope to a child with no home”. I say this not just to you but to myself too.
To women who have kids, be grateful. Don’t take it for granted. To all of you who have friends who have gone through miscarriages, be nice to them. Don’t say insensitive stuff. When they are ready to talk, listen more than you talk. And do not ever say “I know what you’re going through” unless you do because trust me, you don’t.