The following story was published with the request of anonymity. For the purposes of continuing her story, we will refer to the submitter as Precious.
I never knew that someday I would talk about this. I did not even believe it myself. I love life; life is beautiful. I love books; I read a lot. I read almost everything that is readable. I love traveling when I can. I’m a single mom of three. I love my children to bits.
I’m a born-again Christian. I am in the praise and worship team. The only time I feel fulfilled and like I’m living my purpose is when I’m behind the microphone in church, worshiping God. That atmosphere, that setting. Sometimes I feel like I don’t want to go home. I feel at peace. I feel at rest. I must admit that in my most difficult moments, I find solace in the Word of God.
I enjoyed life as a child. I’m the firstborn in a family of five. We were brought up in a slum. We had our parents, both of them. Sometimes we did not have all that we wanted. Sometimes we lacked things, sometimes we were sent home for lack of school fees, sometimes we were cold and hungry. But basically, life was good. We were happy.
Then my dad passed away. I was in high school then, and life became sort of hectic because my mom, who was a housewife, had to start fending for us and taking care of us all by herself. She did not know where to start from. I dropped out of school and stayed home for almost two years.
A troubled marriage
I met this guy who swept me off my feet. At first, he was a good guy, and I got pregnant with my first son. I was 19. I left home and went to stay with him. Eventually, his people came to see my people. And they did the normal thing that we do down here [dowry], and it was like I was traditionally married to him.
After I had my first child, I noticed his anger, I noticed his violence. He would beat me up sometimes. I knew it was not good, but I never knew there was any way that I could either leave or protest.
He is the kind of guy that would get angry. If he talked to me and I answered him, he’d say that I was talking back at him. And if he talked to me and I kept quiet, he would say I’m being stubborn. So either way, I would end up getting beaten. And he was not that responsible and used to drink. Sometimes he’d come home very late; sometimes he wouldn’t come home at all.
My second pregnancy caught me unaware. The first trimester was really tough. I suffered some severe morning sickness, but I got through it. During the second trimester is when I found out that I was carrying twins, a male and a female. I was excited.
Coupled with the fact that my then-husband was not very responsible and I was not working, things were tough. I had tried running a business in the past, but this guy would always show up at my place of work and demand money to go and drink. I used to give him the money because I did not want any problems and to avoid embarrassment.
Over time, the business was run down, and I closed it down. I had also stopped working because he used to demand for my pay. He divided everything on the table and would leave me without even transport money to go to my place of work. So at some point, I just lost interest in working, and I stayed at home.
I don’t know if it is the fact that I was carrying multiples or the situation at home, but my blood pressure started shooting up. It was a real concern. My legs started swelling.
Doctors kept advising me to relax, but as much as I tried to relax myself and to rest, this guy was not giving me peace of mind. He continued his bad behavior. He’d come home, sometimes he would not come at all, and pick fights with me.
At the back of my mind, I knew this was going nowhere. I resigned myself to my fate. I did not think that there was anything I could do to change the situation.
In my third trimester, my tummy was pretty big – very big. And I could not move as fast as before. It took me a long time to do some things. He used that as a point of attacking me, telling me I’m lazy, I’m good for nothing and useless. I had sort of gotten so used to him saying negative things that his words stopped penetrating me.
In my eighth month, my blood pressure was high, but they did not want to put me in hospital. They told me to take lots of rest and maybe try to hold on until I started the ninth month. Then maybe I’d go into hospital.
A long night of horror
It was a Saturday on the 16th of March that year. I remember the date.
He came home very late, almost 2:30 in the morning. As usual, I opened the door for him, and I went straight to warm his food to serve him. I saw the look on his face. There was this look he had when there was trouble. Sometimes he would get into a fight or a quarrel with people out there, and he’d come home and continue the trouble with me. I was so tired. I did not want any trouble.
He pushed the food away and demanded something else. The food he was demanding was not even in the house. I politely told him that we didn’t have that, and tomorrow, I’d try to fix him what he wanted.
“You’re lazy!” he started. “What have you been doing? You can’t fix me the food that I want. You’re trying to starve me to death!”
He went on and on. I just stood there. I did not speak. That irritated him.
“You’re quiet because you’re stubborn! I don’t know why I still have you around here. You’re useless to me!”
I did not want to answer. I did not want to fight, so I tried to leave. Things escalated. I wasn’t feeling well. This guy held my hand. I told him, “Let me go and sleep. I’m not feeling well. Let me go and lay down a little bit.”
“All you know how to do is lay down and be sick. You’re useless!” he yelled. “You’re trying to control me in my house. I cannot eat what I want when I want to eat it because you’re trying to control me. And I’m the one that is providing.”
He pushed me away.
“So you’re going to sleep? You don’t want to cook me what I want to eat?”
We had lost power that night, so there was only a candle lighting the room. He hit me. I was trying to flee, but he was so fast. He caught me by my braids and started beating me. At that point, I realized that my son, who was now 4, had woken up. My husband pushed me, and I lost my balance and hit the table.
The candle fell from the table and went out. The room went dark. The impact…I can still recall the feeling that I felt throughout my body, but I kept quiet. I did not scream. I just sat there.
I heard my son calling me. I told him to go back to sleep. He kept calling me at intervals, and I would tell him go back to sleep.
When I heard my husband snoring, that’s when I tried to get up, but I was not able to stand on my own. My lower body refused to move. I was feeling a lot of heaviness. There was a lot of wetness around me. I did not see that I was bleeding. I thought it was my water that broke. So I just sat there. That is when the tears started flowing. And I was thinking, ‘Oh my God, this guy will kill me one day. What am I still doing here? I should leave this guy. Look at me now.’
I was appealing to God, ‘Please, God, preserve my life for the sake of my child.’ It did not cross my mind that I was going to lose my babies. I was in the dark on the cold floor.
Those were some of the longest hours that I’ve had in my life. I was scared. I did not know what was going to happen. I was especially scared because I couldn’t move. I was just there. I started feeling dizzy. My son kept calling me. I did not want to go to sleep. I thought that if I slept, my husband would come back and finish me off, so I was just there in the dark. I almost bled to death. I was there until I saw light coming from the windows.
When morning came
My vision was weak, so I called my son. I was not talking straight; I was struggling for the words to come out. Sometimes I get goosebumps when I remember that day. As my son was struggling with the door, his father woke up. He came and looked at me. I looked at him, but I could not see clearly. I was so tired. My whole body was numb. Honestly, all I wanted was to lie down. Maybe sleep. But I couldn’t. He looked at me then he went to the door. I don’t know what happened after that. I drifted off…
I could feel like we were in a moving vehicle. I saw people, but I did not recognize them. And then I drifted off again. I came to and opened my eyes. I didn’t realize straightaway that I was in the hospital. I could see people around me, but I couldn’t see them clearly.
At some point, someone asked me what happened, but I couldn’t speak. I drifted off again. Then I don’t know for how long, but for me, it was just like I was going into a deep sleep and then waking up for a little bit.
I came back to myself again. I tried to open my eyes, but I couldn’t. I was feeling a lot of heaviness, but my mind was awake. I could hear people around me. I could feel some of them touching my stomach. They were working on something, but I couldn’t do anything about it. I could not talk to them. I tried to move my hands. They were so heavy, but I managed with a lot of effort to move my two fingers. I remember very well that I moved my two fingers because of what I heard them say.
“She’s coming around,” someone said.
“Are you sure?” another asked.
“Yes. She moved her fingers.”
“I never thought she was going to make it.”
I remembered that I was pregnant, so I touched my tummy. My stomach was no longer big. I asked myself, ‘Where are my babies?’ I went to sleep again.
When I awoke, I still remembered that I was supposed to have children. I was supposed to have babies. I saw one woman; she was in white. I tried to focus on her. “Where are my babies?” I asked her.
“You have not been told the condition of your babies?” she asked.
She walked out of my focus and pulled some sort of trolley. I don’t remember if it was really a trolley or something else. She pulled it towards me and brought it closer to my bed. Then she took the babies by their feet and lifted them up. That’s when I saw them. Both of them in one hand. She told me they were gone; they were not breathing. She dropped them back and pushed the trolley to the wall again.
I was not fully in control of my emotions and senses. I did not cry out, but I started shaking. I told her I was cold. She took blankets from somewhere and covered me, but I was still shaking.
I heard her calling for someone or for some people. I drifted off again. I came back to myself. I was not alone. I realized there were some people around. When I opened my eyes, a woman approached my bed.
“What is your name?”
“Have you been told the condition of your babies?”
I said that someone told me they were dead.
“What is the sex of your babies?”
“Did you see them?”
“Yes, someone showed them to me.”
“Okay, I want you to sign some papers for us to that effect because we cannot get them out of here unless someone does the signing, and you’re all alone here. There is no family member of yours. So you’re the one that will have to do the signing.”
I asked them what I was signing. She said I was signing to acknowledge that I had seen my babies and that they are dead, and I was authorizing them to take them away.
They give me a pen, but I started shaking all over again. I told them I was cold again. They told me they had already brought out all the blankets in the room to cover me. There were no more blankets. I was still cold. I drifted off again. I felt like I was floating away, something I could not control.
I later learned that my then-husband took me to the hospital, and he said that I had fallen down and left me there. When I came back to myself, they told me about the demise of my babies. I was alone. There was no family member in the hospital with me.
I’m grateful to the doctors and the nurses that assisted me because if they left me without any assistance, maybe I would not be here telling you my story. But the way they were going about it, bringing papers for me to sign, I could not. I could not even see them clearly. My vision was so foggy. I don’t think it was right. The information had not even sunk in.
I later realized that I lost the babies long before I arrived in the hospital because of the bleeding. I also learned later that something happened that they call placenta abruption, where the placenta broke off from where it was attached. That is what caused the bleeding. The babies were gone within the first 30 minutes of my bleeding. It’s just that I did not realize it at the time. It was the hardest thing.
They performed a C-section. Basically, it was to save my life because the babies were no longer there. And from what I heard them say, they never really thought that I would make it because I lost a lot of blood, but God is good. I pulled through.
It took a long time for them to declare me stable enough to be taken to the ward. I was later taken to the ward, and there were other women that had gone through the C-section. The had their babies with them. My body was numb. My feelings were numb. I was not crying. I had sort of accepted my fate. It was like I was beyond pain. I just slept.
The next day, I could hear other babies crying. And that’s when it hit me. The tears started flowing. The reality of seeing the other ladies with their babies, it broke my heart. I could not get out of bed. I had a catheter on, so I was not even going to the washrooms. I managed to sit up with assistance, but I could not stand up.
My second day in the hospital, my husband came. That is when he realized that I lost the babies. I did not talk to him much. I was tired, and I did not know how to talk to him. He just came, asked me how I was doing. I told him I was good, then he said this was a big loss. I didn’t say anything else, so he left.
My mom was heartbroken, but I did not tell her what happened. I did not know what to say because he had already told everybody that I had slipped and fallen down. So everybody was asking, “What were you doing?” I could not start explaining.
For the first five days in hospital, I was learning how to walk all over again. I was gradually recovering. The swelling was gradually going away because for the first two or three days, my face was so swollen, and I had undergone a blood transfusion.
On the fifth or the sixth day, that’s when the nurses were doing their rounds in the morning. I had removable stitches on, so they came to take some of them out and then they would remove the others the following day. That is what I was told.
One of the nurses was working on my tummy, and I saw her jump back. Then I saw blood spilling everywhere. I panicked. The other people around me panicked too. She went to call the others. All of a sudden, I was surrounded again.
Back to the operating table
They were asking themselves where the blood was coming from. I was scared again. The doctor told me that they were taking me back to the theater to try to see where the blood was coming from and fix the problem. I was scared of being under anesthesia again.
The doctor left me with two nurses to prepare me for operation.
“Can I ask you a question?” I asked. “Is it bad?”
“They looked at each other, and one said, “That’s a hard question.”
My heart sank. I told them I had one request. I didn’t want to go back into the theater before I spoke to my mom.
A call was made to my mom. They told her to come. I realized that sometimes you might go into that theater and never come back. I did not want to tell my mother the truth exactly.
When my mom came, I told her I wanted her to pray for me, and I also wanted her to go get my son from his father because he is a wicked man. She was surprised by my request, but I made her promise to get my son. Whatever happened, I wanted my son to be with my family.
I was in the hospital for almost a month and a half before I was allowed to go home. My mom kept her word. I don’t know how she did it, but she got my son from that guy. And when I finally left the hospital after six weeks, I never went back to him. I went straight to my people, but I never told them what happened. I just said that I’m done. I’m never going back there.
I’ve never told them the truth of what happened that night. I accept that I had issues with blood pressure and that me carrying multiples also played a part in complicating my pregnancy, but my husband played a bigger part in causing me pain. My story is still unfolding. More to come…