Monday, 6 October 2014

The night it rained.

On Friday night, we started having complications with our pregnancy. Saturday morning we went to the clinic here in town and he found that my cervix was dilating in preparation for labor. I was just approaching my 4th month, so obviously this was a bad sign. He gave me medication to stop preterm labor and then sent me home to be on complete bed rest for 3 weeks. By around 4pm, I starting having cramping. At around 5:30, we started to eat dinner, and the cramps got bad enough that I couldn't breathe. I found out afterward that those were contractions. I knew something was wrong and just then I felt a large amount of blood and I told Sydney to call the doctor. He called the doctor and one of our deacons, and the doctor told us to rush to the big hospital in Chilonga, around 30 minutes away. The deacon and his wife came at that time and we left for the hospital.

By that time I knew I had lost a large amount of blood. The deacons wife was concerned because I was ice cold. As we were driving I felt myself losing my grip and the last thing I remember is seeing rain start pouring down. It hasn't rained yet this year, and I remember asking “Is it raining?”. They told me it was, and then I told them I was going to pass out- and from there things were a bit fuzzy. When we arrived at the hospital they brought out a wheelchair and rushed me to the delivery ward, where they left Sydney, the deacon and his wife in the hallway and pulled me into a room with about 4 beds but luckily only one was occupied, a lady waiting to have a c-section. The doctor tried to get my history. I can't explain the amount of pain I was in or the dizziness I felt- and he asked me to spell my name and I got K and A but after that I failed to remember. He asked me the name of our church and I couldn't remember it no matter how hard I tried.I just remember repeating over and over "I am passing out, I am passing out."

At that point, none of the five nurses in the room had even stood up off their chairs so he called over and said “Hello- we have a patient, someone come get her vitals.” So a girl stood and got my BP, told the doctor and started walking away. He said “and her temperature?” So the girl took my temperature- shouted it out loud and sat down. He then got furious and said “What about her pulse? I said her vitals! This is a patient get up!” So she took my pulse as I sagged lower in the chair unable now to hold myself up. Sorry for the gore, but blood had soaked through a towel, slip, my skirt and two chitenges. The fact that I couldn't spell my name had me in terror that I was dying. The doctor had now got his tools out and gloves on and he turned around to see the bed with no linens. He asked another nurse to put linens on the bed and she turned to me and said told me- 'just give me one of your chitenges, Ill lay it down"  (a chitenge is a piece of cloth wrapped around the waist for modesty). 

The doctor looked like he might actually slap her. He said “This is a hospital we have procedure- put linens on the bed” At that point I think I must have blacked out because next thing I knew I was being put on the bed and the nurse was being told to put on gloves. I will spare you most of the details except to say that I felt very alone, very scared, very tired, very angry, and completely out of control. At a point, the baby became stuck because I hadn't dilated enough.. The nurses couldn’t find the tools he needed, so he had to “improvise” and he removed it himself. Then he showed my baby to me.

That was the worst moment of my life, and I will never be able to forget it.

At that point I kind of lost it and started trying to pull iv's and instruments out. I can't explain it except that in my mind I felt that if he had just left the baby inside it would have made it. I was convinced at that moment that he had just ruined everything. Like our child just needed more time but now it was out and it was over and I just wanted everyone to stop touching me. They had to call our deacons wife in to calm me down so they could complete the procedure. At that point they also let Sydney come to the door, so that they also show him our child.

We had not come prepared, so I had no change of clothes, no food, no soap, no blankets, no nothing. I had to put my blood soaked clothes back on, and they wheeled me to the female ward. There was only one empty bed in an open room of about 40 women. There was a flat sheet draped over the plastic mattress, and a wool blanket on the bed. Men are not allowed in the ward, so the deacons wife came with me, Sydney gave her his sweatshirt to wear to keep warm overnight. I was hooked to an IV so she helped me use the toilet, made sure I was covered and warm and drinking water. I used one of my dirty chitenges as a pillow. The deacons wife was on the bed with me.

They gave me drug after drug, some injections, some orally, some through the IV. I was too dazed to even ask but Sydney had told the doctors about my allergies. One of the injections in my thigh made me almost scream in pain (and I have a VERY high pain tolerance) and I even lost feeling in the leg for at least 20 minutes. Sydney wanted to sleep in the car at the hospital but I sent him home, there was nothing he could do. They let him come in and say goodbye, and bring us toilet paper and water (you bring your own supplies, there are just two toilets for all 40 patients to share and you must have your own toilet paper, soap and food).

Our first night apart as husband and wife was the night we went though the most trying moment of our marriage thus far.

He left, with the intention of coming Sunday morning with clean clothes, soap, supplies. We are so thankful that without being asked, a brother from church called to tell Sydney that he was preaching tomorrow so not to worry. Sydney called one of our Bemba brethren who also prepared for the Bemba service so that instead of trying to come before services to the hospital then go back and try to manage preaching with his mind elsewhere, he could just be with me. People pitched in and really supported us in a way only brothers and sisters in Christ can.
Mrs Kapesa the deacons wife who stayed with me spent part of the night sitting on the end of the bed with me, and then when I slept she and the lady next to us shared a plastic garbage bag laid on the floor, and she used a chitenge for a blanket. On the floor with a stranger. Multiple times in the night I woke to feel her adjusting my blankets and making sure my IV was working. Selfless love that I couldn’t repay if I tried. In the night, one of our other deacons daughters came to visit, she is a nurse in training there. She brought us water, and medication for Mrs. Kapesa's BP which she didn’t have time to bring from home. 

At some point in the night, the power went out and we were being medicated and checked on by the nurses by candle light.

I just remember thinking that it couldn't be real. I thought it was one of the nightmares I'd been having. When I woke up still there it still somehow couldn't sink in. The girl in the bed next to me was just 18. She also had a miscarriage in June but had complications, so she had surgery at a village clinic where they damaged he urinary tract and since then she has had to have a bag attached. She has moved from hospital to hospital since. She had been at Chilonga hospital for over a month, just living there with her mom. Many others were miscarriages, malaria, infections after labor, car accidents....

Laying in bed, I woke up many times in the night to see cockroaches even on the bed. They didn’t even phase me. The windows were open to let fresh air in, you can imagine the smells, and mosquitoes also freely roamed. All around me was a language I didn't understand, in a place I've never been with people I didn’t know and a situation I couldn’t comprehend. If our deacons wife hadn’t been there I wouldn’t have managed. I just wouldn’t.

In the morning at 4am, When getting up to go to the toilet I nearly dropped to the floor. They checked my blood pressure and it was only 82/53. Mrs. Kapesa gave me a soda to give me a little blood sugar rush, and a little while later Sydney came with supplies, tea, coffee, fruit and clothes so I was able to clean myself a bit, put on fresh clothes finally, brush my teeth, eat some bananas and feel a little better. They even allowed Sydney to just be with me. Not sure if that was laziness on their part, or preferential treatment because of skin colour or just God's providence. The IV had fallen out in the night and clotted, so they just decided to remove it but I received some more drugs , took bloodwork and malaria bloodslide (which she took without gloves, and put down haphazardly on the wooly blanket while she did other things...). I ended up with 8 or 9 holes with bruising from those iv's and injections, plus the mistakes the nurses made. They claimed it was hard to see my veins....

By 9 the doctor came. He explained that due to the malaria, the baby must have developed an abnormality or deformity, maybe deafness or something worse so the body rejected it. All I could think of was- I still want a deaf baby. I just want my baby back.

He said due to the conditions of the place he was sure I'd be more comfortable at home, so without discharging me they gave me oral drugs to take at home but we were to come back Monday morning for an ultrasound. When we got home, ladies from church came to visit and encourage me, some of whom have gone through the same. The love and support has been overwhelming here, and they have stood in for my family during such a hard time.

We went back to the hospital Monday morning at around 6:30. We got my charts from the ward and went to the x-ray/ultrasound ward. It was around 7:15, and I was told to drink tons of water before the ultrasound. I did, and by 8 there was still noone working in the ultrasound room... then 8;15, then 8:30. At 8:45 I almost started crying because I was now in pain from my full bladder but finally a woman came strolling in. She sent Sydney to go pay the bill for the scan, and then did the ultrasound. She was just silent- never said a word to me except “im done” when she finished then she got up and walked away. As she was walking away with me just lying there not knowing what to do she said “I said Im done, you can come wait for your husband.” We waited, it took him about 30 minutes because of the crowd of people. The whole time she wasn't saying anything so after some minutes I finally just asked- “What is the scan showing? is everything OK?” And she giggled, yes, giggled- for an unknown reason and then said “No, It's not OK There is still something there. It was an incomplete abortion.” (The thing I hate the MOST is that in Zambia, miscarriages and abortions are both called abortions.)

Once Sydney came back we had to find a doctor to review and give us advice, the Congolese doctor who had treated me Saturday and Sunday has gone on leave so the lady just said “find a doctor”. Very helpful woman. We called our doctor in Mpika that we use, and he then started calling to find doctors who were on duty. The doctor who is on duty is a white German woman but she never showed up for work. Another guy who had providentially seen us with our doctor on Saturday saw Sydney and called him over. We showed him our charts and he gave us some recommendations but also gave us our doctors number. We called him and explained and he rushed over to the hospital (we really like him) to see us. He borrowed a room from another doctor and performed an exam and check for infection. There is no infection and the bleeding is not as much but I am still having a bit of cramping. He believes whatever is there is small enough to come out on it's own, but if it can't within 24 hours then I will have to go for a procedure tomorrow. He has given us antibiotics and sent us home again so I can at least rest from home, but tomorrow morning we will go back. If the uterus hasn't cleaned itself out, I will be put under anesthesia and they will perform a vacuum procedure to clear it.

Needless to say, I don't want to have any sort of operation, major or minor. I was told how to prepare for going into theatre tomorrow “just in case”. Our plea for prayer now is that whatever is there will pass on it's own and I will be well enough to finally be officially discharged tomorrow, without a procedure done.

Every once in a while, reality sets in. I had these hopes before the ultrasound this morning- maybe I had twins and only one miscarried, maybe it was a mistake and the ultrasound will miraculously have a heartbeat.
I will have thoughts: We should have gone to the US next year with a 7 month old. We should have spent the money we are saving on a crib. We should have, we would have, we could have. I go through times of feeling a strange relief- and then guilt. “Maybe I wasn’t ready to be a mom, and besides- I have been absolutely terrified to deliver a baby in Zambia. All I know are American hospitals and giving birth overseas was giving me so much anxiety." I feel guilt over feeling that, and then I feel guilt about the malaria. If we had just hung the net sooner. If I had just used bug spray. I know this is probably normal but it's just... so hard. I just want my child back.
Sydney has dried my tears, comforted me and been a rock of support but I know he is also broken. This was his baby. He was already such a proud Daddy. Now he is holding his world and my world on his shoulders, cooking meals and checking my temperature and getting me water and helping be move around but I wonder how he's holding up deep down?

We have been blessed by the doctor, who is a Christian. He has pointed us to Christ every step of the way. Times when I feel like screaming he reminds us of God's providence and His love for us. Sydney has been ceaselessly praying and comforting me. It has brought a peace in my heart.

This has surely been the hardest thing we have gone through, and we can only take it a day at a time. We know that God is watching over us and whatever happens, His reasoning is better than anything we could have hoped for or imagined. One day, I will ask Him why he took our baby before I ever got to kiss their little mouth. Then I will understand. For now, I trust Him and his reasons which are beyond all comprehension.


  1. Praying for you Katryn. Having seen others in many similar types of hospitals here in China I could almost see what you were describing. Heartbroken for you, but thankful for God's care of you. Praying for His continued care and protection of you though this.

  2. Such a hard piece to get through just reading it!! Cannot imagine going through it.....We are continuuing to pray for you and all the family. Ans esp. for your most recent request. Love and prayers Katryn!
    Concetta Snyder

  3. Katryn,May the God of all comfort and giver of life comfort your heart and Sydney's even through this trial.
    You may never to get to know or understand why on this side of Jordan but remember that God is still sovereign and reigns hon his throne -that he is too wise to err- Yes it may not look thus or feel thus now but trust his word more than the circumstances .Continue looking to him -cling ever so tightly to him and cry to him for grace .
    It is very painful-( I have had three miscarriages ) so I know the pain ,but I also know God and he is still the same God who loves you with an everlasting love -even if you may not feel it -tis ture.
    God comfort your hearts.Praying for you !!!

  4. I just read this ordeal with my girlfriend and it brought tears to our eyes. We'll praying for you both. Your faith and hope are such a challenging example, God bless you.