Rutendo Joyceline Kagoro is an electrician by profession, an entrepreneur, an Afrolynk facilitator and a mother who is pushing for baby loss awareness. Rutendo opened up to The Weight She Carries about her journey.
The Stillborn Baby
I got married at 21 years of age and immediately got pregnant. Throughout my pregnancy, I never had any problems. I went to every appointment with my doctor and did all scans and tests. The day my labour started, I packed my bags and went to my local hospital. When I got there, all checks were done and everything was normal including the baby’s heartbeat.
The expectant mother waited and was checked again about two hours later.
The doctors told me that they could not detect the baby’s heartbeat and told me to pack my bags so that the ambulance could go with me to a bigger hospital.
I was still expecting a miracle and I was continuously touching my stomach to feel if there were any movements. When we got to the bigger hospital, they [then] announced that the baby was no more and I had to wait for normal delivery.
I was already in pain and I could not even cry. I spent two days with the dead baby inside my womb. My body was now swollen. I finally gave birth on the second day after I was induced. They showed me my baby girl and I held her for a few seconds. My heart broke and I was shattered.
I was discharged the following day.
My body had changed because of the pregnancy and there was no baby to feed. My blood pressure shot up to an abnormal level. I then went for my check-ups to see a doctor who gave me advice on how to handle my loss. I followed what he told me and my blood pressure dropped to a normal level and never shot up again.
Some of the things included talking about my baby when I felt like it, crying when I felt like crying and spending time with other people so that I am not always lonely. All this helped me to heal.
Time went by and three months after my baby loss, I got pregnant again because my doctor had advised that we should try after three months. My pregnancy had no complications at all. After nine months I [went] into labour and I reached my 10 centimetres, but the baby’s head was still high up and there was no way I was going to give birth even though I was now at 10 centimetres. I had to be transferred from the hospital I was and go to another hospital which was two hours away.
What made Rutendo uneasy was that the hospital she was being transferred to was the same hospital where she had delivered her stillborn baby. To make matters worse, when she arrived, she was given the same bed she had used.
I struggled all the way to the hospital. When I arrived, I had to use a wheelchair because my legs were numb. I was escorted into the wards by the nurses and as soon as I got there, the nurses at that hospital started shouting, telling the ones who were now holding me to leave me [to] walk alone.
The nurses left me and told me to walk into the maternity ward. I was depressed because I thought of my stillborn baby and now, I was on that same bed again. I arrived around 12 midnight at the hospital and the doctor refused to do a caesarean section on me, saying that it was possible for me to deliver normally.
I delivered my baby boy around 0500hrs through normal delivery and he started crying. I knew he was alive and all I could say was ‘thank you.’ My rainbow baby had been born and was alive. I later had two more babies, but there were no complications at all.
Rutendo formed Kays Baby Loss Support after opening up about her story at her baby shop and realized the impact it had on other women.
A lot of women inboxed me and opened up with their stories and also thanked me for opening up. I really had no courage to start this because of fear of the unknown. I had a meeting with a lady called Loveness Nhleya who encouraged me and told me to put all fears aside and go on with my vision.
It was only one event with Loveness that gave me courage to create [the] Kays Baby Loss Support website and [social media] platforms. This initiative has helped other women to know that they are not alone in this baby loss journey. It has also helped women to speak out because most of these ladies face stigma surrounding them. Our society also sees baby loss as a taboo, so ladies have now found a platform where they air out their pain.
Advice for Mothers-to-be
I urge mothers-to-be to keep their faith and not dwell on stressing themselves thinking about baby loss. They only have to know that baby loss is real. When we talk about it, it doesn’t mean that we want[to instill] fear in expectant mothers, but it is for them to know that baby loss exists at any stage.
They should also be aware of signs and symptoms which might lead to baby loss and how to deal with it through reading stories of other mothers who experienced it. I’m not a professional in this, but I’m a mother who is raising awareness so that others know that baby loss is real and it exists and it is not rare. And we also want to break the silence surrounding this topic.
As an entrepreneur, I have managed to reach most parts of the world through the unique baby things that I sell. My shop is now online and it can be accessed by anyone from wherever they are in the world. I also managed to acquire an entrepreneurship certificate through Afrolynk (a Germany-based company) and currently I am facilitating students throughout the entrepreneurship course.
I have taught some of the students who graduated in February in Harare, Zimbabwe. My recent project is the Kays Baby Loss Support and I created a website this year and also managed to spread baby loss awareness through different social platforms.
My vision is to collaborate with professional counsellors who volunteer to help those grieving and also any people who volunteer to collaborate in supporting and comforting those grieving. I also want to go international and reach a bigger audience and spread this awareness.
The only thing that I can say I did differently [with] my stillborn baby and my other babies is that I increased my hours of prayer sessions and really had time to talk to God on my own. It doesn’t necessarily mean that all along I wasn’t praying, but I increased the time of my prayer sessions.
The doctors told me that the cause of the death was due to the baby’s umbilical cord which had strangled her whilst turning during labour.
I highly recommend that, if possible, people seek counselling after a baby loss and also join support groups with women who would have experienced the same loss.