Penny Appeal’s Fragile Lives Appeal provides life-saving care for vulnerable mothers and babies across Pakistan and Kenya. The UK Government will match every donation, helping us to make DOUBLE the difference to mothers and babies in Pakistan and Kenya.
This Mother’s Day, we invited mothers we know to share their experiences of pregnancy, childhood and motherhood so together we can honour them, and work to support more pregnant women and mothers around the world, with the care they need and deserve.
Saying Goodbye too soon
I wake up at dawn to pee on the pregnancy stick and anxiously wait for 3 minutes whilst it does its stuff.
3 minutes which turns my whole life upside down.
I see the 2nd line appear, and as the seconds tick by, I see it becoming darker and darker. It can’t be, so I rub my eyes to clear away the sleep from them and look again.
Yep, definitely pregnant.
I run to my husband, who is fast asleep in bed and jump on the bed shouting “We’re pregnant!!!!!” Alhamdulillah. I will never ever forget that moment.
Unfortunately, that pregnancy didn’t last. We lost our baby at only 9 weeks of her pregnancy life (I like to think she was a girl). My body denied its miscarriage. It couldn’t accept our baby was not alive anymore, so I couldn’t miscarriage naturally and had to have her operated to be removed.
We buried her. One of the worst moments of my life.
You see, when you see those 2 dark blue lines on a pregnancy stick, you instantly begin a dialogue with your unborn baby. You begin to plan out their life; their hopes, their dreams. You imagine them in your arms the moment they’re born, to the moment they start walking and talking, all the way to their marriage and granting you grandchildren. That is why you cannot and should not think a baby passing at 6, 7 or 8 weeks is less painful than a still birth.
We allowed my body to rest, for my mind to recover from the trauma we both felt and 6 months later, we fall pregnant again. Sadly, that too did not last.
This time round, falling pregnant was stressful. It was full of anger and resentment. Angry at my body for rejecting my previous children. Saddened that Allah did not grant us full term for them. How foolish was I? I knew Allah is the best of planners; that He saved us from great tribulation, but I was a grieving mother who wanted her babies in her arms.
We decided to not focus on having children. I began to concentrate on my physical and mental health. I lost a lot of weight before falling pregnant – 99lbs to be exact – and decided we needed to go on a nice break to get away from the stresses of life.
I remember cleaning the bathroom one day, and as I was cleaning, I saw a pregnancy stick in the drawer. I didn’t even remember what day I was in my cycle, but decided to test away – it was a cheap supermarket brand and I thought it’s not going to give me a true result anyway!
I was wrong. Very wrong. The line was dark and thick in its blue colour. The colour of my own face faded as I told my husband again. Because this time, we weren’t happy or overjoyed. We were worried. Nervous. Concerned. Apprehensive. What if it happened again? I couldn’t take another failed pregnancy.
Khair. This pregnancy, I flourished alhamdulillah. I was under the guidance of a great gynaecologist and my little peanut was born full term, without any complications. Alhamdulillah.
The pregnancy itself was great. I didn’t have any major issues. With my 1st two, I was constantly nauseous but Allah had mercy on me and this pregnancy I had none. I was active, eating well and enjoyed every stage of pregnancy.
The baby’s arrival
Birth was long. From start to end it was 32 hours, and the majority of that was spent in hospital because my BP became very high. By the end of it, I was tired, withdrawn and developed a fever because I was exhausted. The doctors had to break my waters because it wasn’t happening and my baby, Imaan, wasn’t getting into position after an hour of pushing. I was so tired. So spent. They wanted to take me to theatre, but I refused. Going in to theatre meant they would give me a C section, and I couldn’t have that. So, the doctors decided to give me an episiotomy instead and after a few pushed, she was out. But, the fever I developed meant Imaan and I had both be on IV antibiotics for 3 days so we weren’t allowed to go home until then.
The midwives and doctors were great. But they didn’t allow me to birth in different positions and instead was put on stirrups for most of the active stage of labour.
Seeing Imaan for the first time was a blur. I can’t remember her face, but I remember her being put on my chest for a very short time before being whisked away and a crew of medical staff surrounding her. I shouted at my husband to tell me what had happened, and amongst his own concern, he told me Imaan had a lot of fluid inside her and they were trying to vacuum that out. She was then placed on my chest apparently, but I really can’t remember that. What I remember is looking at her little face, her big wide eyes and finally feeling like I’d accomplished my purpose.
All I ever wanted to be, was a mother. And here she is, kicking and screaming in to the world! Alhamdulillah.
People in the UK are so blessed to have the wonderful NHS. Doctors, nurses and midwives work so hard to provide such an amazing service. And even though there are always flaws in government medical schemes, it is heaven and earths apart from what I would have received in a developing country.
For one, I know I wouldn’t have had as many scans (if any) in a developing country. Because of my previous history of miscarriages, and because my BMI was still high after 99lbs, I had lots of scans to keep an eye on Imaan’s development.
I wouldn’t have had as many appointments with doctors and consultants too. I was referred to a mental health practitioner because I mentioned I had suffered with depression in the past. My husband was educated on what to look out for. We both went to pre-natal classes. Read books on pregnancy and beyond. I went on breastfeeding classes and had the support of a breastfeeding consultant after I gave birth. We had health visitors who came to see us every so often in the first stage of Imaan’s life. We had access to medical care whenever we needed it.
Imaan was dairy intolerant to begin with and was in and out of hospital for the first 5 weeks of her life. Without the support of our primary doctor, as well as the doctors in the A&E, we wouldn’t have been able to cope.
That’s only relevant if I would even have access to hospital or doctors if I lives in rural Pakistan or Kenya. I know so many women are forced to deliver their babies at home and alone. I can’t imagine how scary that must be, and all the risks that go with that.
By Rozina Usmani
Penny Appeal will be providing pregnant mothers, new-born babies and children with health and nutrition support in Pakistan and Kenya. Many women living in poverty – especially in remote areas – struggle to access any medical care at all. That means that when complications arise during pregnancy and childbirth, the results are often fatal.
Our mission and goal is to help make sure that all women have the support they need to care for themselves and their children and to give them the best possible start to life. Donate before June 9th to Penny Appeal’s Fragile Lives Appeal and the UK Government will match your donation pound for pound to help save even more lives and make double the difference to fragile mothers and babies in Pakistan and Kenya.