I fell pregnant when I was 22 years old and the father of my baby was unemployed. I was terrified of telling my parents about my pregnancy. My mom suspected, but I denied it and only told her about my pregnancy when I was six months along. When my mom told my father, he was so angry that he blamed my mom for my pregnancy. It was so painful to hear my father shouting at my mom about my pregnancy that I would cry at night.
On 19 December 2002, I had labour pains and my parents took me to the hospital. My father was still angry. The nurse examined me and told me that something is wrong with my baby’s heart, but they brushed it off as not serious. I was taken to the theatre for a Caesarean section and will never forget holding my baby for the first time – he was so beautiful!
“Hours later, the doctor came and I could tell by his facial expression that my baby hadn’t made it. I cried so much, it felt as if my heart had been ripped out of my body.”
The following day I tried to breastfeed him but he didn’t want to suck. I tried to give him formula but he still didn’t want to feed. He’d sleep long hours, while other babies were awake. I told a male nurse that something was wrong with my baby, but he replied that all babies sleep a lot. When night-time came, he cried so much that a nurse came to ask me what was wrong with my baby. I told her I didn’t know, so she checked my baby and said that his feet were cold. She told me to wrap my baby with another blanket which I did.
In the morning, they called a cardiologist to check my baby’s heart. He realised that both clean and dirty blood went to one vein only and told me my son had to be operated on. The operation was successful, but after a few days he had complications. His body turned blue – it was painful to see my son in the NICU, in pain and crying so much.
I cried and sang him a soothing lullaby until the doctor told me that my son needed another operation. While he was in theatre, I waited and prayed for him to be okay. Hours later, the doctor came and I could tell by his facial expression that my baby hadn’t made it. I cried so much, it felt as if my heart had been ripped out of my body.
I asked the doctor if I could see my son and when I saw his tiny, lifeless body I wished he would wake up – but I knew it would not. The nurse called my mom, but the father of my son came before she did. He looked at our son and I was struck by how much our baby looked like his father.
My mom then came with my aunts to take me home. The pain of losing my son was so unbearable, I just wanted to die. Every time I see babies, I cry. It is a pain I can’t describe. I went for counselling and I’m also fortunate to have the support of my mom and my siblings, as well as the father of my baby.
Written by Linda Tholo