She is in her late forties and it has been more than 15 years since she lost her unborn child. Carol (not her real name) opened up to me about how painful it was and still is all these years later.
“You know it is not like I did not have a child already. I had a son and he was big and healthy. But I had no children with my husband. I had a son and he had a daughter, but we did not have any children together. So when I get pregnant we were happy, is something growing out of we love,” she explained.
Carol and I share a daily routine that has resulted in us having conversations. From time to time, without any invitation, she would share little snippets of her life. I believe I am a good listener as they are mostly monologues. While I try, even though I like Carol, we are not on the same level with sharing our life’s stories.
The morning she told me of the death of her unborn baby girl, was just one of those mornings that she opened up after I made a small comment about my children. Mind you there are some mornings when we go through our routine in a comfortable silence.
“When I get pregnant it just felt like the right thing. Is not like we say we trying for a baby, it just happen natural and we were happy. The pregnancy was not a hard one and because I been through it before. I felt everything would turn out okay,” she said.
“I was just before seven months when it happen and I was not even in Guyana; my husband was not with me. One day I just went at the beach and then I start feeling funny and then I feel wet between my legs and I just know the baby was coming,” as she spoke, her hands fluttered to her stomach, a totally unselfconscious move.
“We try everything. I went to the best hospital… but the baby didn’t make it. My husband was here in Guyana and I know he was going crazy and I was there in pain wishing that he was with me. Girl let me tell you it was not an easy experience. I would not wish it on my worst enemy,” she said that last part forcefully.
“At first it didn’t really like settle in. I know the baby dead and I have to bury her because I couldn’t bring her home. But it was when I come home is like everything just sink in. I had so much plan fuh this baby and done start picking up a few things because you know I didn’t want wait until last minute to buy everything. So girl is then like the thing really hit me and I is person I don’t cry, cry and so but the pain.
“And you know [name of her husband] didn’t know how to deal with it, like he didn’t want to talk about it so it make it more hard for me. Sometimes when you wake up in the morning is like the whole world on your shoulders. Like a big hole deh in your heart and nothing you do making it smaller.
“I had to go back to work and then questions! Is like people don’t know what to ask you. Sometimes, like I wish they would see and don’t say anything but like is everybody want to say something and it wasn’t easy.”
Carol’s pain is almost tangible after so many years. She is not crying but it’s there in her voice, in her facial expressions, even in her body language. I wanted to say something comforting, but was very conscious that in such circumstances, silence might be best.
“And then is like people expect you to get over it quick, quick. Is like to them the baby born dead is not like she born and I start nursing and so. So for them it is not so bad. But I carry her inside of me for all them months, is like I know her and I was preparing for her. I had so much plans, how I woulda raise she and everything. It was like a piece of me just gone.
“After some time I didn’t think about the baby everyday but the pain never went away. I think my husband got over it much easier than me. But remember he didn’t carry her for all them months is like his relationship would start after the baby born, at least that is how I look at it,” Carol said.
“Now is just me and my husband because his daughter get big and move on and my son, well I tell you already he died some years ago.
That make it more hard for me because now I have no children. It is not like I never get pregnant or like I didn’t give birth, but still I have no children. And so is like two pain I am carrying for my daughter that I never really get to know that well and my son who was big when he died.”
Carol had told me about the death of her adult son some time before and how hard it was for her especially around Mother’s Day. She had mentioned she lost a baby as well but never in detail and I was unsure of the impact it had on her because it was said in passing.
“You never know how painful it is until you experience it. It is never easy to lose and child and I am not just talking about a child who born and start grow or one that is big but even a child that born dead. The pain is just the same, I can tell you because I experience both pains.
“I will never forget both and I have to live with the pain until I die but life goes on. I still laugh and enjoy life but sometimes I have to grieve again and again even though I don’t cry.”
Our routine came to an end at that point and we said our goodbyes. The next day it was as if we never had that conversation. Carol, like so many women in Guyana who have had the same experience, never received any counselling to help her deal with her loss.