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Living with the tragedy of your baby’s death

Posted by Administrator on October 22, 2011

Midway through her evening examinations, Ann Murugi Muchiri received an ominous call from her house help.

“The baby is asleep but she is not breathing,” the girl said.

Ann quickly called a neighbour and asked her to check on the baby then hurriedly finished the exams.

When she got home, the baby was weak and they rushed to hospital. Sadly, 16 days later, baby Jeanette Wambui was no more, having spent her last days in the Intensive Care Unit. She was only four months old.

“I often feel guilty; had I been at home, maybe the baby would still be alive,” Ann says.  The loss of her first born hit her hard: “People kept encouraging me that God would give me another child, but none can be like Jeanette.”

Losing a baby is a traumatising experience, more so if you are newly married, or if you had stayed for many years trying to conceive.

Grieving in silence

October is the Baby Loss Awareness Month, with October 15 being the Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day in the USA.

The day isn’t yet a key entry on local calendars but the rate of infant mortality in Kenya could change this.

A website dedicated to the day, October15.com, emphasises that the month is dedicated to helping families live with the loss, not to “getting over” the loss.

“Too many families grieve in silence, sometimes never coming to terms with their loss. We help others relate to the loss…” the site says.

Although infant mortality in Kenya has recorded a slight decline over the years, it is not yet something to celebrate.

Statistics from government agencies and Unicef show that the year 2009 recorded 55 child deaths per 1,000 live births, compared to 54 last year. This year, the projection is about 52 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Causes of these early deaths range from management of pregnancy and delivery to the way children are handled in the early stages of life. Natural tragedies also count.

A painful life

Take the case of Joan Kavata. Born in 2006, she died of hydrocephalus, also referred to as “water in the brain”, in 2008.

Although her medical treatment really strained her family’s resources, her father, Gedion Onyancha, says it was painful to lose a child “who after all was going to have a very difficult life”.

Hydrocephalus  is caused by an accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the ventricles of the brain, thus enlarging the head.

“There is something that makes you want the sick person to live even if his/her life will be painful,” says Onyancha. Little Kavata underwent two surgeries but did not survive the third, according to medical records.

“We spent close to Sh1 million, even though it was unlikely that the girl would get better,” says Onyancha, a security officer. Unlike Murugi, Rebecca Ndeta was there when her first born daughter, Marion Midega, died.

Two months ago, she helplessly watched tongues of fire consume her daughter during the Sinai fire. She is still too traumatised to speak about what happened.

Her husband, Aggrey Lumbasyo, recollects: “She was breastfeeding the baby but went out briefly. Behind the house were containers of fuel the villagers were hiding after siphoning from a Kenya Pipeline Company leak.”

The fire broke out before Rebecca returned to the house. Although she survived, she suffered serious injuries.

Lumbasyo 27, and Ndeta, 23, hope God will give them more children. “We have undergone counseling but this tragedy has completely changed our lives.

We are slowly trying to cope with the loss,” says Lumbasyo who no longer goes to work to be able to take care of his wife.

All these parents have felt the pain of losing a young one. The all agree that there can never be a child like the one that was lost.

It is such pain that made former American president Ronald Reagan designated October the Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.

It has been marked since 1988.

Source: http://www.nation.co.ke/Features/saturday/Living+with+the+tragedy+of+your+babys+death++/-/1216/1259374/-/f9ku3j/-/index.html

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One Response to “Living with the tragedy of your baby’s death”

  1. shi shi said

    SAD

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