October is a special month for me, for the reason that it is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. I have suffered the loss of two babies through miscarriages. What is unfortunate and what keeps me spreading awareness about pregnancy and infant loss is that to date I still suffer from shaming, silencing and all types of remarks mostly which revolve around ‘attention seeking. It is quite sad to see and hear debilitating stories of women who have gone through pregnancy and infant loss and the kind of treatment, especially in words (both written and spoken) that is levelled against their legitimate loss and pain.
Pregnancy is a hard journey. Science is still discovering all the effects pregnancy has on a woman’s overall health (mentally, emotionally, socially, physically, spiritually) both short and long term. Now compound those effects with a miscarriage or an infant loss. It really spirals to catastrophic lengths for me.
One of the reasons I actively participate in spreading awareness on pregnancy and infant loss awareness during the month of October as well as consciously talk about my experiences of child loss through miscarriages is that knowledge is power.
Knowledge is power
When I had my first miscarriage in March of 2010, I was lost. I felt alone. I was confused. I was overwhelmed. I really longed for answers, for conversations with kindred spirit but most were silent. Then I read a blog post by Becky Thompson and for the first time I had someone who had vocalised my worst pain. When Wanjiru Kihusa went ahead to share her story and begin Still A Mum, I felt so validated in all the emotions I had been going through. To hear stories of other women and be in a safe space where I did not feel ‘crazy’ or ‘weird’ or ‘something is wrong with me’. Meeting and getting to know Vivian Gaiko and the work she does with Empower Mama was so refreshing. It was such a healing moment to meet women like me, black women, Kenyan women, who shared my pain and my story; who understood my journey.
I realized then and even now that for many women going through pregnancy and infant loss, seclusion is the worst thing that can happen to you. Being along in your pain, unable to process it, put it into words, being misunderstood and sidelined, being hushed only adds salt to an open wound. That is why I write about my pain, my story and speak about it as well.
This morning I woke up to a retweet by Njoki Ngumi which had a trigger warning of a thread by Prof. Kate Antonova on miscarriage and all the complexity that is that word. I was not able to read past the first few tweets mostly because it was a description to the T of both my miscarriage experiences. It is a great awareness description of what really happens before, during and after a miscarriage, I encourage you to read it if you can.
I am convinced that if more women knew about pregnancy and infant loss, it would really ease all the pain that comes with this horrible experience. When I look back on both my miscarriage losses, knowing what I know now, I feel that things would definitely have been different. To know is to possess the power to make informed decisions and to grieve with awareness.
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Shout out to my gynae of the last decade and counting. A woman who has cared and continues to care for my reproductive wellbeing. Me and mine are forever indebted to you Dr. Angela Chekoko Muliro. God eternally bless you for us.