There is no celebration. There is no baby shower. There is no gender reveal party. There is no maternity photos. There is very little talk about the pregnancy.
There is fear. There is despair. There is a small glimmer of hope. There is few, if any, doctor visits. The time slowly ticks by.
But only one holds a baby in her arms.
One has laid her baby in a grave. The men of the community went door to door to collect each other to help prepare the grave. There was little talk. I could feel the heaviness in the air.
This other Mama, the one who holds her baby close. The one I didn’t even know was pregnant until two months before she delivered. She knows all too well that the woman burying her baby could have been her. Even her delivery was not easy. At 3 am she walked all the way across town with her husband, and two local grandmothers to reach the hospital. A walk that probably took about 2 hours, while she was experiencing contractions and labor pains. When she arrived at the hospital, her little girl was born in no time. She’s still not out of the woods though, as many as 1 in 10 children will die before their 5th birthday. Around 32% of all under-5 deaths occur in the first 28 days of life.(unicef)
I should understand. After all I’ve been with Neema House for about a year and a half now. We’ve received countless babies whose mother’s have died in child birth. We’ve heard stories of the babies who didn’t make it. I’ve seen the rows of beds in the premature ward of the government hospital. Beds full of babies barely weighing a pound. Babies whose skin is so thin I can see their little bones.
My heart is heavy. The air is heavy. But there is still hope. There is still light.