Sunday, January 22, 2012
Rainbow children: My darling Samuel
Last week, I learn for the first time the term Rainbow babies from a fellow bereaved mum, Caterine from Australia.
Rainbow babies are conceived after the lost of a baby.
"Rainbow Babies" are the understanding that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of the storm. When a rainbow appears, it does not mean that the storm never happened or that the family is not still dealing with its aftermath. What it means is that something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and the clouds. Storm clouds may still loom over but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of color, energy, and much needed hope.
Many mums for various reasons choose not tohave rainbow babies, and many well meaning people tell them, " You will be alright, you can soon have another."
For me, my rainbow baby came 7 years after Andrew died. I had not planned for him. I went through hell during my pregancy because I was worried I would have a repeat of Andrew.
1996 Samuel, the final chapter
He hears your cries,
He sees your tears,
Enough is enough!
He dries your tears.
He makes you laugh.
In January 1996, I thought I was having gynaecological problems. Every morning I met with my older friends doing Tai Chi. They were menopausal women so we talked a lot about women’s problems. I was bleeding when I shouldn’t be bleeding, and was dry when I was supposed to bleed. Once, I had a gush of blood rushing down my legs. I was really frightened. I went to the doctor and she said, perhaps the pills did not suit me, so she prescribed another type. She did this twice.
Around Easter, I told my neighbour Dorothy Debrah from Ghana. She was training to be a dietitian in England.
She asked, “Are you sure you are not pregnant? Some women bleed when they are pregnant.”
I had no symptoms of any kind, no nausea and no craving for particular food. I was climbing up and down a steep slope gardening. Dorothy frightened me and I insisted that CO took me to the doctor. We went to her and she wrote me a referral letter and rang the gynaecologist for an urgent appointment. We went to Dr. Selina Chua straight away. Dr. Selina Chua listened to me, and read the GP’s letter. She told me to get on the bed and hooked on the machine. The machine went Bop! Bop! Bop!
She said, “Congratulations, you are pregnant.”
I burst into tears. She was baffled. I was married and why was I crying? CO told her about Andrew. Selina was a very understanding doctor. Immediately she rang the radiology department to make reservations for a very urgent ultrasound scan. She recommended that I had an amniotic fluid test because I was 42.
Dr. Chua explained the options I had. I didn’t have much choice. I was too far advanced in my pregnancy to have an abortion by D & C, and scrape the baby away. I would need an induction to deliver the baby if I wanted to get rid of him. By induction, the hormone prostaglandin is intruded into the cervix. This hormone softens my cervix; the induction mimics the process of natural labour. Prostaglandins will usually cause ‘period type’ pains in the back or lower abdomen and these result in my cervix opening a little, to enable the midwife or doctor to break my waters. This artificial labour can be tiring and painful, and until the baby is expelled. Either way, the baby is killed in the process.
Selina said, “Let us not worry prematurely, and wait till we get the scan results.”
This didn’t pacify me a bit. I was crying and crying.
God in his infinite wisdom planned it that when I found out I was pregnant at 28 weeks; it was too late for a normal abortion. If it had been earlier on, there was no telling if I would have aborted the baby. The odds were too much against me. It was literally hell I went through when I had Andrew. Would I have the strength or be stupid enough to go through it again? I seriously contemplated getting rid of it. I remembered Olwyn Dickson telling me that it was terrible for a woman to go to labour knowing she was having a handicapped child. It was worse for me, I was going to have not only a handicapped baby but one that would die. My world had turned upside down, and helplessly, I was hit over and over by a sledgehammer.
They couldn’t scan me straight away because the clinic was closed for lunch. We had an hour to wait. We went to the cafeteria and I told CO I couldn’t eat. Food was the last thing on my mind. The horrors of the 55 days with Andrew flooded back. I was on tenterhooks. History was repeating itself. What had I done to deserve this? CO ate his lunch and I sat crying. I didn’t care that the other patients and their friends were looking at me.
The radiologist came back from his lunch and was very good when he did the scan. He had never encountered a Campomelic baby, and we told him, the most important sign was the femurs bending; you will see a kink.
I remembered telling him, “Check the femurs! Check the femurs!”
He reassured me that the baby was normal. I didn’t want anyone to say my baby was normal. The last time Dr. Tan said my baby was normal, my baby died. He told me the baby was a boy. I got no joy from this news. I think it was CO who told the technician to tell us the sex of the baby. All my previous three pregnancies, I hadn’t wanted to know. I wanted the element of surprise. CO later said, he thought if I knew I was having a boy, I might feel better. It didn’t.
We went back to Dr. Selina Chua. She made an appointment for the amniotic test. I was so confused and worried. Dr. Selina Chua informed my GP. My GP was very worried. The contraceptive pills she had prescribed me were very potent. There were a lot of male hormones. If the baby was a girl, she would be very masculine. I was thinking about the Campomelic SOX9 sex reversal. She rang CO to tell him this information and told him we were better to have an abortion.
This year in 2010, there was controversy over a gender row concerning champion South African runner Caster Semenya. She was suspected of being a man or of having male sexual organs. There were reports that claimed sex swap tests had shown she was a hermaphrodite. I thought of Andrew and other Campomelic babies whose sex was ambivalent. When people discuss Semenya, I refrain from saying, you don’t know about being Campomelic.
We had the whole issue of debate about abortion again, and I was worried. Though the scans showed the baby wasn’t Campomelic, I was worried that the scans were wrong. I went to the amniotic test. It was the biggest syringe needle I had seen; the technician injected the long needle near my navel. I asked if the needle would poke the baby, and she said no. The fluid the technician drew out was dark brown, almost black. I asked her why; she said she didn’t know. That was probably caused by the bleeding I had been having. The contraceptive was not foolproof; the human body sometimes gets tired of it. That was how I got pregnant, when my GP changed the contraceptive pills.
I was worried sick, and getting depressed. I was a mental wreck. The amniotic test results came back. Baby wasn’t Down Syndrome. We told Deborah and Gabrielle that they were going to have a baby brother.
Deborah aged 12, asked, “He is not going to die, is he?”
I said, “No,” without conviction.
To me, it’s like God saying, “Sorry for taking Andrew, I am making it up doubly.”
Time has diluted the grief in me. Having Sam helped a lot.