MYSTORY: In silence there is compassion

Patriciah Kemboi suffered a miscarriage at 12 weeks. PHOTO| COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • The chap who did the ultrasound mindlessly told her, ‘pole’ (sorry).
  • “I asked him why he was telling me pole but he said the doctor would explain. I already sensed things were bad.”
  • Later, in the doctor’s office, “The doctor told me she wished they could save him or her. Then she asked me questions. Like, if I’ve been overworking myself and not eating well, if I’ve been stressed."

Patriciah Kemboi had mixed feelings when her pregnancy test returned positive. “I wasn’t expecting it but I was shocked either,” Patriciah says carefully. “I was excited and scared. I didn’t think I was ready for a baby, and I didn’t know how I was going to tell my mum I was pregnant. I lived at home with her and my two brothers, I’m the only girl.” It was early May 2015. The sun shone on the flowers in bloom. Patriciah was 22, her (ex) boyfriend was 28. She worked crazy hours as a customer service agent.

Patriciah’s gynaecologist later confirmed the pregnancy at six weeks. Patriciah had terrible morning sickness but her baby developed well – the three visits she made to the clinic gave her a clean bill of health. “I wanted a boy but everyone told me I was getting a girl,” Patriciah says, smiling. “I picked names; Ivan for a boy, Ivanna for a girl. And I bought clothes; I bought six pairs of socks, two sweaters and a pink dress.”

The cookie crumbled at the end of the 12th week: “It started with painful cramping on Friday, I was working the evening shift. It ends at midnight. I knew the cramping was not normal. Saturday morning, I’m spotting and in less than 10 minutes, I started bleeding heavily. I immediately got in a cab and rushed to a nearby hospital.”

MEDICAL ABORTION

Patriciah was sent for a scan. The chap who did the ultrasound mindlessly told her, ‘pole’ (sorry). “I asked him why he was telling me pole but he said the doctor would explain. I already sensed things were bad.” Later, in the doctor’s office, “The doctor told me she wished they could save him or her. Then she asked me questions. Like, if I’ve been overworking myself and not eating well, if I’ve been stressed. The self-blame began there, that maybe all this was my fault. She sent me to the evacuation room for a procedure called a D&C [dilation and curettage]. She explained that I was going to have a medical abortion.”

During a D&C, WebMD says, you lie on your back and place your legs in stirrups like during a pelvic exam. The doctor inserts a speculum into the vagina and holds the cervix in place with a clamp. A D&C is done to remove tissue in the uterus during or after an abortion or a miscarriage.

“It’s like the nurse who was doing the procedure didn’t know what she was doing,” Patriciah continues. “She didn’t inject me with anaesthesia or anything for the pain. My back felt like it was on fire! I cried myself numb after.”

It was late July. The overcast skies hang low. Physically, Patriciah was in top form. Emotionally, she was a wreck. “I took the next three days off from work to recover but I quit a day after returning. I couldn’t keep pretending to be jovial. I needed a lot of time alone to grieve, I needed to find out why it happened.”

Patriciah spent the next three days holed up in her room, resting. She spent the next week online, digging up everything she could find about miscarriages. “I didn’t believe it was so common, statistics say it happens to one in every four women. I drank to deal with the grief. I stopped going to church and I cried myself to sleep every night,” Patriciah pauses, eyes shifting as she remembers that dark space. “In September, I joined a support group on Facebook called Still A Mum.” Sharing with the other mums on the group was therapeutic for Patriciah. She better understood her own grief. “I realised my triggers: News about my friends having their own babies. People making insensitive comments – people would tell me that I shouldn’t worry because I was too young to have a baby and I’ll get many others, or maybe God had His own plans. I also didn’t know what to say when I asked if I had kids or not. One friend, I remember, told me it was irritating how sad I was all the time.” Silence – not unsolicited and ill-thought comments and observations – gives more support to a grieving mum, says Patriciah.

FINDING HEALING

Patriciah became vocal about her miscarriage on and off social media. She actively reached out to other mums in the group in the same compassionate way the founders had reached out to her. Reaching out helped her find healing. “The miscarriage wasn’t my fault.” She also met up with other mums who shared in her loss, mums who had lost their babies through, among other ways, miscarriages. Some had lost their babies several years ago, others recently. Some had lost one baby, others multiple. Some mums talked about it, others didn’t. Some observed the anniversary of their loss, some chose not to. To each her own. Counsellors and gynaecologists were on hand at these frequent meet-ups to offer professional consultation.

“I got a telesales job with a beverage company in January,” says Patriciah about bouncing back. “I started getting better around March, when I gave the baby clothes away to my friend and gave the name ‘Ivan’ to my newborn nephew. I could visit them and not cry about it. I was happy for them, I wasn’t sad for myself anymore.” She smiles. “I’m dating again, I want another baby but not just yet. But I can confidently say I’m a mother of one.”

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