I have always considered motherhood to be an unparalleled gift, whether through adoption or biologically. No offence dads, you do a good job of raising children and can make or break them, but there’s something about a mother’s love which is surely significant and can somehow be felt whether or not you have yours with you. My deep regard for motherhood was the reason I was over the moon when Jackie told me she was expecting her first child. I conveniently skipped the part about the complications she was facing so that I could first ululate and then return to that point at length.
I hadn’t seen Jackie in months and our communication was mainly over the phone. I constantly checked for updates, especially when I found out that she had a few issues with her pregnancy and she always calmed me down. My pleas to visit were not addressed and I figured she wanted to be alone. I could, after all relate to that feeling. I decided I would pray for her and wait for such a time when she was ready to receive visitors.
On a chilly Friday morning, I made the decision to check on her physically and hoped she would agree. I noticed that her messages that morning were vibrant, and filled with emoticons, something that had been absent in the past weeks. I took this as a good sign. We agreed that I would visit in the afternoon so I spent the rest of the day working on school assignments in preparation. Once I had finished, I flagged down a boda boda and told her I was on my way. She informed me that she was planning to go to hospital and I figured I’d tag along.
When I reached her home, I was welcomed by her smiling mommy who has aged so gracefully, it is scary. I told her as much. I suspect she is one of those people who downplays compliments because as I was gushing, I told her “You look very nice.” Her : You too. But can’t you just allow and leave me out, I thought 😛 I got to Jackie’s room and waited as she’d stepped into the bathroom. When she returned, she was wincing in pain and clutching her stomach stretching out for the bed. She lay down and we struggled to make conversation. I could see the agony in her eyes, it broke my heart. Her mum asked if I’d stay long as she needed to go to church and I responded in the affirmative. I had so many questions but could tell Jackie was in too much pain so I had to stop myself at intervals. Her pain was increasing and she was bleeding. She kept asking me to leave so that I wouldn’t see her in that state. I mentally saved her slaps for when she would get better. We prayed and sat in silence occasionally. I really wanted to distract her but I was mostly helpless in the end. The plan was to go to the hospital but because she had been there the day before and received the diagnosis and medication from two different specialists, we hesitated in the hope that there would be a change. Paracetamol was the only accepted painkiller and it did not seem to bring any relief so we eventually decided to head to the hospital.
Her brother, Joseph, drove slowly, careful to avoid potholes and letting impatient drivers overtake as Jackie’s pain intensified with every bump. In the meantime, her Doctor was called and he confirmed he was at the hospital. Upon arrival, forms were filled and we waited as Jackie was the second patient the Doc would see. She felt the bleeding increase and we quickly ran to the bathroom. Now, this silly patient of mine started to dictate what I was allowed to do/not do and see/ not see. She would ask me to turn around or close my eyes *smh* “ I don’t want you to see things unless you promise to forget.” It turned out, the bleeding was intense and the clots bigger than she’d experienced before.
Jackie finally saw the doctor as her sister, Daphne, Joseph and I waited. When she got out, she told us we were going to the ward. We were glad she was spending the night because at least then, she could be observed. As we reached the parking lot, I dared to ask what the doctor had said “My baby is…” She broke down into tears. I did not want to ask again for fear of the response but Daphne asked, and that dreaded thought was confirmed. Daphne and I both broke down immediately only for Jackie to ask “Why are the rest of you crying.” Sigh
“I never knew until that moment, how bad it would hurt to lose something you never really had.”
It was a quiet walk to the ward. What do you tell someone who has just lost her baby? I could not even begin to conceive the millions of thoughts in her head. Jackie needed to prep for the theatre and only one person was allowed to go with her. Daphne quickly declined saying she’d just cry throughout so I went in with her. I wasn’t any stronger but it had to be done. At this point, it was time to call close family and just ask them to come without specifics so that they wouldn’t receive the news over the phone. I kept trying not to think about Jackie’s heartache. The sheer shock of an ‘ordinary day’ ending like this was haunting my mind. Her heart was probably in a million little pieces as we sat and talked about the situation and everything else. Before long, her hubby, Jacob showed up and he said a prayer just as I walked out to give them privacy.
By the time Jackie got out of the theatre, there were no less than 10 members of either family gathered outside the hospital room, anxious to check on her. Her anaesthesia had worn off and she was smiling. Sigh. We all got into the room and this is the question I remember, “How are you?” Jackie responded “We are fine, it’s just Jacob and I now.” Ooh the heartbreak!
The rest of the evening was spent discussing food, politics, roads and other totally unrelated topics. There was even a debate over which crisps are better; whirlwind or happy crisps (These are made in Uganda, please support these guys if you haven’t..oh and give me your reviews) Joseph and Daphne insisted happy crisps were better and we agreed to disagree. I digress.
As I left that night, I told Jackie I hoped she’d get some sleep but she said she wanted to stay up for as long as she could so that she could mourn. I totally understood that. I knew deep down the mourning would take a long while but believed she’d find joy and comfort along the way.
What stood out for me through it all was the amount of support and love I could see and feel, just being in that room. Everyone in the family who called to check in or who was called, whether they had reached home or were stuck in traffic in the opposite direction- dropped what they were doing and showed up. I was humbled and deeply touched by their warmth. The day’s events had been shocking and miserable but I was glad to see this silver lining and know that Jackie would be taken care of and pull through, somehow.