As I stood looking down at an open dusty red grave with a milky white coffin my vision went blurry. As I stood I felt my swollen feet give up on me. I weakened with every deep sob. Then I felt a hand squeezing hard on my left shoulder. Looking down at the tiny coffin I felt a rush of blood flow from my uterus. I let out a loud heartbreaking cry. My newly fresh c-section felt like it was going to tare open from my emotional crying. As I cried painfully I thought to myself ‘I just gave birth to my son yesterday, I cannot be burying my son today. This cannot be happening to me, why me? why us? Lord, why have you turned your back on me? This hurts’.
My boyfriend and I were sitting in my maternity ward discussing our newly born sons’ names. We wanted to give him a unique yet meaningful name that characterized resilience, new sunny beginnings. Our pregnancy wasn’t a financially easy one so we wanted to give our son a name reflecting the strength and adversity we had survived as a couple during our pregnancy. After eliminating several names we came up ‘Alize-ilangelihle’ meaning a sunny day has come/coming. When I gave birth and my mother saw him she immediately named him Ndikhokhele meaning ‘lead me’. I looked at my boyfriend and I remember him smiling and he said “Alize-ilangelihle Shongwe. I love it babe,it’s perfect”. He stood up with emense excitement to kiss me. As I blushed the nurse came in and said the doctor would like to see him. As he followed the nurse I stayed behind and typed out our sons’ full names Alize-ilangelihle Ndikhokhele Shongwe feeling hopeful and pleased.
I gave birth to my handsome son Alize-ilangelihle on the 13th of September 2021 at 15h30 through an emergency c-section. He was 8 months premature weighing 1.48kgs. While daddy and I were fighting for him on the outside, little did we know he was fighting for his life inside me and would continue to fight after he was born. According to my doctors I had no amniotic fluid which meant I had to undo go emergency delivery at 32 weeks pregnant. My doctor was hopeful and I remember him saying as I was being transferred to women and children hospital “You will be breastfeeding your son by this afternoon”. His words eliminated my anxiety of giving birth 8 weeks to early. As I lay in the theatre room under local anesthetic I heard Alize-langelihle let out a loud cry. Though I couldn’t feel my feet,I felt a sense of solace and I remember thinking ” His alive, Thank you Lord, Thank you BoNkosi, Thank you BoBujela, Thank you BoFalati, Thank you BoDlamini. I looked in the corner of the room and saw him and tears of joy rolled down my face. I remember thinking ‘my son has such big balls’ as I could see his private parts vividly from the angle I laid. I then heard the panic chatter in the room. The doctors were amazed how he survived as my placenta had no single drop of amniotic fluid in the sac. I remember one of the doctors saying “This one is a soldier and a fighter”. The second Doctor came up to me and told me Alize-langelihle had swallowed his own feces and she isn’t happy with his condition. She brought him to me and I kissed his forehead and she said she was taking him straight to ICU. I laid there feet num, heartbroken but hopeful.
After surgery I was taken back to my ward to recover and wait for the anesthetic to whereof. I could hear Alize-ilangelihle crying in the ICU and all I wanted to do was to run to him and hold his tiny little hands but all I could do was lay there helpless. According to Alizes’ doctor due to the lack of amniotic fluid he passed meconium before birth, he then swallowed the meconium that went straight to his undeveloped lungs. When meconium is aspirated into his lungs, it made it difficult for his lungs to properly supply oxygen to the his brain. The medical term for this condition is called Meconium Aspiration Syndrome or “MAS”.
It’s the following morning 14th of September 2021. As I waited for my boyfriend to return after the nurse had politely called him.I felt hopeful that our son was going to pull through this and I couldn’t wait to start pumping so he can have some breastmilk so his weight would pickup and the sooner we would go home. I was snapped back when the ward door slid open and I looked towards the door. My boyfriends eyes were blood red from crying intensely and he knelt besides my bed and wept saying “I’m sorry baby,I’m so sorry babe”. I knew as he held me that our son was no more.
Ohhhhh this hurts!!! No words can explain giving birth one day and laying to rest your child the next day. There are no words to describe having to dress up your lifeless son with his newly bought newborn clothes. There are no words to narrate the feeling of spending a night at a maternity ward hearing other newborns crying while yours is silent inside a cold room. There are no words to relate to describe the physical pain of a c-section recovery when you have no baby to hold in your arms as you heal the physical scars. There is absolutely no expressions that can describe looking at your partner hurting from the same loss. There is no words to narrate visiting your newborn child at a cemetery on the 2nd, 4th or 8th day of his burial. It hurts, it hurts beyond words.
I am writing this article 10 days after we buried Alize-ilangelihle and the pain is the same as when my boyfriend held me tightly crying. I don’t know why this happened to us but all I know is a piece of me is gone and I’m left empty. How do we even begin to heal? How do I stop crying every day? I am heartbroken and all I can say This hurts!!!
Losing my son feels like an entire chapter has been torn out and shredded.There is no moving forward. I am trapped by my love and grief for Alize-ilangelihle. I do what needs to be done on a daily basis but I stay in that moment of my loss. How very quietly our son tiptoed into our lives and only a moment he stayed. This truly hurts!!!
From the outside looking in you can never understand and from the inside looking out you can never explain.Anon