She weeped for her child
25th of October 2012 was a very unusual day for me, i woke up feeling so low and everything around me felt so strange. Somehow i managed to get the strength to get ready and go to work. I went to work and i received a phone call that one of my friends had given birth, this made me so anxious and all i could think about was who the baby look like. At the stroke of midday i rushed out of office and went straight to the hospital. It was a government hospital so there were no restrictions on the time of visitation.
My friend was in a private room and she was full of joy holding her baby in her arms. When i held the baby she was so cute and she smiled this made my day. Then all of a sudden we heard a woman in the corridors of the hospital crying out loud.
We quickly rushed to the door to see what the matter was. This young lady was being wheeled from the labour ward back to the general ward and the nurses were trying to restrain her from crying out loud since she was attracting attention from people around. Word quickly went round that she gave birth and the child passed away after a few minutes. When i went back to my friend’s room my heart was weeping for this lady so i decided to bid my friend farewell and went to the general ward to look for this young lady. She was not hard to find since she was still wailing and the women in the ward were trying to comfort her. She kept saying in the local language that she saw her child alive and breathing and could not understand why she was told that her child had died.
I managed to talk to the elderly woman who was taking care of her to find out what exactly happened. She told me that Margaret had been in labour for two days and since she had pressure the doctors decided to induce her to that she gives birth quickly. Her water broke 24 hours back and the labour start almost immediately but she had not yet reached the required centimeters to push out the baby. Being her first child she did not know what to expect and the pains were too much for her she kept screaming the whole night, something which angered the nurses who were on duty. They kept shouting at her to keep quiet and telling her that they are not the ones responsible for her condition. That these nurses were so ruthless they kept cracking jokes that she enjoyed the process of making a child and so she should be woman enough to ripe what she sowed. This elderly lady whom I later learnt was Margaret’s distant aunt was called Harriet. Harriet started weeping when she recalled what her niece went through and now the baby passed away.
Harriet continued to tell me that because they did not have enough money to give the nurses they received little or no attention until the baby was almost out. That is when Margaret was rushed to the labor ward. She said that the nurses were so rude to her and her niece and when the baby came out, Margaret was shown the baby and the baby was then taken away very fast to the nursery. After she was stitched and dressed well she was asked to go the nursery and it is there that one of the nurses informed her that her baby died of fatigue. Margaret collapsed and when she regained her consciousness she started wailing. She heard her baby crying and was sure this was some kind of joke. I could not help the tears that were forcing themselves down my cheeks. Having gone though the nine months of pregnancy myself and gone through labour I can only imagine her pain. I tried to console both Margaret and her aunt but I knew that it was only time that could take away the pain they were suffering. I bought them some food because they had eaten and could not afford food. I knew that they had no appetite but they had to eat to be strong for one another. I had to leave and go back to work but I promised them that I would check on them the next day.
On my way out I tried to ask one of the midwives what exactly had happened and she was so rude. She just told me without any emotion on her face that they baby died of fatigue and it was not their fault. She was so quick to exonerate herself and her colleagues, was there something she was hiding. I kept asking myself whether they were negligent at any one point. Having given birth I know that there is no space for a medical worker to be negligent whether the woman has money or no money to pay. They swear an oath to protect life and have a duty to ensure that this unborn child is born alive at all costs unless there are unexpected circumstances.
We all know that women face many challenges when it comes to maternal heath and many die in the process of child birth or lose their babies due to the negligence of the heath workers.
I went home thinking what the midwife said, “it was not our fault”. So whose fault was it? Was it Maggie’s fault for deciding that she wanted to start a family, was it her fault that she had no money to bribe them so that she is given special attention, was it her fault that she was not taught in antenatal classes about how painful labour pains are and what to expect. So who is to blame……………….
The next day as usual I went to work but my heart was with Maggie and her aunt. So I called the aunt since she had given me her mobile number. She was weeping so much on the phone. When I asked her what the matter was, she told me that they had discharged her niece but the hospital was demanding money that they did not have. I told her that I would pass by at lunch time and try to help them. When I reached the hospital Maggie was still weeping. Her aunt told her that I was the lady who had bought them food the day before. Maggie was so grateful. When I asked her how she was feeling, she told me that her problems were just beginning. I was a bit lost.
She went ahead to explain that when she informed the father of the child that she was pregnant he started avoiding her and she had not seen him for the last seven months of her pregnancy and that it was her aunt and some of friends who had contributed towards her bills once in a while and shopping for the child. When she gave birth she immediately called him to inform him that she had given birth to a baby boy knowing that he would be so excited and come to see the baby and indeed he was thrilled and had promised to pass by the hospital at the top of the hour. Since in the African culture if you give birth to a baby boy, you have an heir and the fathers take pride in knowing that they have heirs.
But then she called him back within a few seconds with the bad news about the death of the child. He told her that he would come to the hospital but he never showed up and to make matters worse he switched off his phone. Now the baby’s body needed to be buried. And according to culture the body of the child needs to be buried at the father’s ancestral burial grounds since our African culture is patrilineal. She was now in a big dilemma. I decided to ask my husband to come to our rescue with the money which he gladly did after a rather long explanation considering I have no relations with these two ladies. Maggie’s brother offered to transport the body of the baby to their fathers’ land in Masaka district and Maggie told us that she wanted to go back to the village for a while.
I understood that she needed to be close to family and mourn the death of her child before she can move on with her life.
What really angers me that the midwives are women like us, they are mothers and daughter of women who have in one way or other experienced labour pains. So why do they treat their fellow women so harshly. We can understand that they are not paid well but they should not take that out on innocent women who want to start a family.We realize that these health professionals end up violating our rights as women and yet they should be protecting them because they are our sisters, mothers and daughter.....
My heart is with Maggie though I have not heard from her.
We need to stand up as women and ensure that our governments provide better health care facilities for women because we cannot have women losing their lives or their children over failed policies or systems. This is a fight we have to ensure that we win. Medical workers should be paid well so that they have no excuse but to treat us with respect when we are in the labour wards.
NO WOMAN SHOULD HAVE TO SUFFER LIKE THIS……..