True Story November 16, 2019

Cartoon by Dav Andrew, with permission

my name is __________
i am your mother
i carried you for nine months
i went to the hospital
about a week after
your due date

wait wait wait at Z__________ Hospital
i was nervous
i had not even been registered
a woman next to me suggested
i go to a nearby clinic
and showed me the way

but you were already in distress

Where are you, my sister?
Where can you be?
Your phone is not picking up.

Finally, Friday morning, someone answers
But it is not you
It is your friend
You had left your phone with her
Because you wanted to call her
After the baby was born
She said you had left for the hospital
Thursday morning
And had left the phone with her on the way
Why couldn’t you have let me know?
Even your boyfriend didn’t know
Where you were
(Your husband had left you
Because you did not become pregnant
While with him)

I knew you had done your prenatal care
At Z__________ hospital
So I went there
I arrived at 9 am but visitors could not enter
Until 11 am, how could I wait that long
To see you? What to do?

I thought about
The WhatsApp group from church
And sent a plea and sure enough
One of my church mates was
Inside the hospital and let me in

Worry set in
When they said u were not registered
We went door-to-door
In the maternity ward
And did not find you
I was in distress
What to do?

i gave birth to you, my son
but you were blue
and immobile
and could not breathe
nothing like i had imagined
i wanted to scream

how could God take you
even before i could cradle you
in my arms
the whole family had been
looking forward to your coming
and now this

i couldn’t take it
i couldn’t stay there at the clinic
where your life had been taken
i fled, despite protests
i failed you
i had to do something
i went to the pharmacy

Many many hours later
Your friend
Phoned to say you had phoned
And that you were on your way
To pick up your phone
I got directions to your friend’s house
And headed there to meet up with you
But you had already left by the time I got there
Your friend said you were headed home

I called our little sister who had
Come from the village to stay with you
I said you were on your way home
And to prepare some food

I gave you a call
You were in tears in a taxi
You told me you had lost the baby
I said, “Lord, that is terrible.
But God loves you. And you will be ok.”
You said you were not ok.

When you got home
You did not want to eat
You only wanted to go to bed and sleep
Explained our little sister
I told her I would let you sleep
It is Saturday morning
That I showed up at your place

It is then that we learned
Where you had been

i bought some pills
i took a matatu out of town
i got out and walked to the banks of
the S______ river
i had taken the pills on the matatu
so i was already drowsy
i lay down
on the bank of the river
to die

but some women came along
and disturbed me
they asked what i was doing there
and i shared my saga
they sat down next to me
and listened
they reassured me
they made me vomit
they said God would give me another child
that I had to pick myself up and go home

they walked me to the matatu stop
one woman loaned me her phone
and i called my own number
but not to announce
what i had wanted to announce
just to say i would
stop by to pick up my phone

when i arrived home
with only my phone and without you
i couldn’t take it
i started throwing things around
i was screaming at the top
of my lungs

i saw the fear and distress in my
little sister’s eyes
she finally got me to bed
in the morning our older sister arrived

Dear Sister, I love you. Our mother is
On the way from the village to see you.
Do not despair. Do not despair.
Do not throw away the baby clothes.
God will give you another child.

I cried and cried and cried
While your auntie held me
I am crying for you and for me
And for our separation
I feel like I will cry
The rest of my life
I miss you

I too was on the brink of death
And was pulled back into
The thros of life
By people who care

I feel empty
I wanted you to know my love
For so many years
I feel an ache in my heart

Your aunties are here
And your grandmother
They are trying to give me courage

May the soul of this innocent (nameless as far as I know) little boy, born during the ICPD25 Nairobi Summit, rest in peace.

Unfortunately, in our society, stillbirth is a neglected topic and surrounded by myths and stigma, often putting the blame on the mother. More info on the subject at:

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