By Roseline K. Njogu
That’s what Dr Kinyua said. Blighted ovum.
I started thinking about potato blight. Suddenly Mr Karani’s voice, from another lifetime, talking about crop pests and diseases in science class, was crystal clear in my head.
My mind was desperately looking for an escape, like a deer caught in the lights (Ok, that’s a very foreign phrase. I have never seen a deer’s face caught in my headlights. I have however seen a child caught with sugar all over their face – same thing). My mind desperately sought escape. He couldn’t mean what he was saying!
I was lying uncomfortably on a doctor’s table (those things are unbelievably narrow). The good doctor had the ultrasound probe on my belly and we were all staring at the screen.
“Hmmm,” he said. “Let’s sit down on this side and talk.”
My heart sank. That’s a chronic understatement. My heart fell into an abyss. I started sweating and crying all at the same time. And now I needed to pee. I rushed my sweating weeping self to the bathroom and got back to find the doctor and Mugash-my husband-staring at each other.
Mugash took my hand. I knew, there was something.
“It seems that your baby stopped developing well, and now… well, there is no baby anymore. You have an empty gestational sac,” he finished as gently as he could.
Wait, what did he mean? Where did my baby go? How come there was a baby a month ago, and now there was nothing? I was spiraling. I kept zoning in and out of the conversation Dr Kinyua and Mugash were having.
“That’s what’s called a blighted ovum… we don’t really know why it happens… no, it’s not likely to reoccur… it’s fairly common…”
So where had my baby gone? Had my body actually eaten it up? Am I a monster now? Oh my God, my baby is gone!
I zoned in to find Mugash negotiating with the doctor. I think he was negotiating with God – the doctor just happened to be there.
“Are you sure you’re not wrong? Could you have made a mistake? Show me other ultrasound scans for healthy babies at ten weeks to compare with what we’re looking at,” he said. He was desperately trying to reduce everything he was hearing into a chart, so his mind could make sense of it.
I was flailing. We were holding hands but we were in different worlds. Different corners of hell actually.
Eventually the doctor convinced us that our ten-week-old pregnancy was lost. We had miscarried.
Miscarriage. That’s a heavy word. It’s a scary word. An earth-shattering word. Miscarriage is something that happens to other people!
In my 27 years, I had yet to be touched by a tragedy this brutal. And in my mind, I feared that now that tragedy knew my address, it’d keep coming. These were the thoughts preoccupying me as Mugash gently led me to the car.
The doctor had said something about scheduling a D&C procedure soon (that’s dilation and curettage procedure to clear the uterine lining). I hadn’t heard it. I was back to thinking about blight.
We hadn’t even been trying to get pregnant. We were in between contraceptives when this happened (the contraceptive journey is a whole other series of articles, trust me). But boy were we excited! We are both last-borns. All our families knew about the new baby. Friends, colleagues, everyone.
Of course we were faithfully reading EVERYTHING on Baby Center. I was even knitting a blanket. I was on vitamins and what not. I was also faithfully puking my guts every morning. Everything was going wonderfully. In fact, as we drove to the doctor’s that morning, we were joking about the possibility of having twins.
Now we were not having twins. We were not even having one baby. We were having no baby.
We held it together until we got into our car, in the basement parking. Then we held each other and wept. We wept for what seemed like an hour.
Mugash re-engaged the Lord.
“Honey let’s fast and pray for a week. When we come back to see Dr Kinyua, I believe the Lord will have revived our baby,” he said.
What do you say to that? He was so broken. He couldn’t accept it. I couldn’t breathe. I held him. We cried again.
Finally, we drove home. We typed out a text to our closest friends letting them know the awful news. Typing the SMS made it real. Now other people knew… it’s almost as if sharing that information with others made it come alive. We wept afresh.
As our friends arrived with food, prayers and comfort, I went into our bedroom to fetch a sweater. Then I found the incomplete baby blanket on the bed. Mocking me.
I went to the bathroom and threw up. You see, my body still thought it was pregnant. I still had every symptom of pregnancy – like a cruel joke.
I curled up on the bed and wept. Again. Mugash came and sat with me. Then called the doctor to schedule the procedure for the following day.
I lay there, paralyzed by nausea.
Stupid, useless, unproductive nausea.
And night fell. It was a very dark night.
(Part II continues next week).
The author is a lawyer, an academic and co-founder of Lexlink Consulting and Afyakit. She’s a Christian and loves working with women to live out their purpose in their public and private lives.
She’s married to Mugash… and they have three daughters.