On the news one afternoon on my way from work I heard about the youngest ebola survivor. Her mother had ebola and had died during childbirth.
It saddened deeply. It was late 2018. Now in 2019 we still have women dying during childbirth. A beautiful life giving process also has the potential to take life away.
I remember the first time I fully understood what it meant to give birth. I was terrified. I was a child. It was in a story I read somewhere and someone died while giving birth. I asked God why? There was no answer. With all the advances and improvements in medicine and technology we still couldn’t nail the giving birth death rates.
The dying and leaving a beautiful helpless soul is what terrified me the most. I was a young female, going to get married soon and have children of my own. I didn’t want to die during childbirth. I wanted to live so I could take care of my kids. There were already so many kids in the world who had lost their mothers. I did not want to leave any more. Because the pain of losing your mother never goes away. Not only do you have bitter and sad adults mourning, but the children grow up believing that they are the reason their mother died and that breeds a whole lot of issues for the child and the people around the child.
It seemed (still does) that doctors’ abilities were limited sometimes.
There was only one thing to do, I declared that I would not have children. My parents were worried. They said I would not find a man who would agree to that. I declared that I would not get married if I was only getting married to have children. Which is another problem, probably more an African problem than a world problem. The belief that women get married to have children. The belief that women are not complete if they are not married. The belief that something is wrong with you if you do not get married. I have never considered myself, ‘learugi’, which is someone constantly not conforming. Yeah, Setswana has a word for that and it is not a good thing to be different.
Throughout high school and varsity I kept an eye on science, hoping someone would come up with an idea that gave women the option not to carry babies themselves (not surrogacy). Like a tube or something that would keep the baby for 9 months and nourish the baby, give the baby all the nutrients needed to grow into a normal baby. And don’t judge me please, as I explained, dying during childbirth is traumatic. I mean, we are making so many advances in science, why can’t we have that option? Not just for the rich, but for everyone.
Even as I type, I realise that my idea was not complete. Having been pregnant twice, (and terrified and expecting I may die), I now realise that the connection to the mother would be lost if we developed test tube babies. Not only for the baby, who feels and connects with the mother during this period. But for the mother as well. There is no greater joy than getting to see your baby after carrying them for 9 months. Nothing beats that. Best feeling ever.
Which now brings me back to how we can stop women from dying during childbirth. I really do not know how or what can be done. The act of making and growing a baby in a woman is still a miracle that science cannot fully do. Yes, they can make the baby in a test tube in the lab, but we have not gotten to the AI of having said babies grow outside a human. That might help, but it will not be the same.