Zimbabwe with World Vision

The Hospital

November 19, 2014

She’s 17. In the miscarriage ward. Alone in the room full of beds with brightly colored sheets, none of them very clean. By American standards it would be a health hazard. She’s laying on the small, wire framed bed, a thin mattress holding her slight body. Barefoot and stunningly gorgeous as so many people are here. Curled up, she’s turned away from us as we gather around her bed – our own views and “rights” of privacy unknown in Zimbabwe. We’re touring this hospital to get an idea of what maternal health is like in Lupane.

This is a new facility, we’re told. One of the best. 

I can’t wrap my head around what others might be like in that case.

The nurse tells us her story while I think of all the HIPAA violations happening right now. There isn’t that level of confidentiality here – a land where the people are more group oriented in their actions than just individual ideals. Culture shock hits a little harder for me.

Zimbabwe with World Vision

Her name is Love Joy. She lost a baby at 5 months at home, and the nurse refers to it as a fetus. I cringe, remembering those words well. She was brought here after, traveling miles in a cart, because of complications with the placenta being delivered. This hospital saved her life – but so many others never make it here in time. When you have to travel 30 kilometers in a rented wooden cart with a donkey pulling it and a man leading over rocks and boulders, surviving something like this is a miracle.

Love Joy nods and murmurs answers to the nurse’s questions. She looks at us briefly, hands under her head, and her eyes are so full of pain that my heart aches to connect with hers. I briefly tell the nurse about how I lost twin boys at 5 months too, and she translates. I see a flash of curiosity in her eyes as she studies me and nods.

I ask what sex the baby was. She says it was a boy. The nurse tells us that they decided her vaginal scarring is probably from a self induced abortion.

I feel like my heart is going to stop beating. I look at this broken little girl. I can see she’s in shock, and I know the feeling from suddenly realizing you carried a baby – a real baby. Does she care? Did she know? If she had, would she have done that? When I was 17, I didn’t know much about pregnancy. Even when I lost the twins at 28, I was stunned that they truly were babies. I don’t know what I’d expected, but nothing could have prepared me for seeing them as tiny little humans. At 20 weeks along, you still think of them as a bit surreal.

We leave and I can’t get her out of my head. I feel like she needs to know that I’m going to remember her and her son for the rest of my life. That they mattered to me. I feel this sense of urgency, almost panic, to go back. But what reason? To intrude on her again? Tell her my story?

I remember I have a scarf in the car. I almost didn’t bring it on the trip, then I almost didn’t bring it with me to the hospital. Amanda sent it to me for Kaden’s birthday, she wanted me to know she remembered. It has little elephants all over it, and I brought it because it matched my skirt.

You have to give it to her. 

That’s silly, I hear myself saying. What on earth does she care if you give her that scarf? It won’t change anything about her life or what happened to her baby.

You need to give it to her.

I can’t shake the feeling and yet I’m torn by these thoughts of how stupid and insignificant this is. I’m going to be a bother. It’s a hassle for my team to wait for me. I’ll have to get the nurse to translate.

I tell Kristina, who has the most tender heart imaginable, how I’m feeling. “Let’s go!” she says. “We’re not done yet anyway, no one will mind.”

We grab the scarf from the jeep and head back to the concrete building where Love Joy is. Her nurse asks if we need a translator as I explain what I’d like to do, then leads us back to the room. She’s sitting up now. I tell her again that I lost twins at 20 weeks, but also a son at 3 weeks old. I explain that my friend gave me this scarf to let me know she remembered my sons, and I want to give it to her.

“I’ll never forget. I want you to know that your son mattered too.” I hand her the scarf and lean over to hug her, and her whole frame sinks down as she begins to cry, hugging me tightly back.

Suddenly I realize how much this mattered to me too.

It wasn’t me that did this. I know God prompted my heart to go back, while my own humanity fought against it not being good enough or make a big impact. But even though in that moment it seemed so insignificant, after it happened the full enormity hit me of what God had used her and I for.

In Zimbabwe, and in Africa in general, miscarriages/abortions are never spoken of. Ever. They believe and are taught that if you talk about your loss, it will happen again. The chances of Love Joy sharing about her son or being able to grieve him are nil. She will go home and life, whatever it looked like for her, will move on. I don’t know if she’ll be able to have more children. I don’t know if a self-induced abortion was what happened – or a myriad of other things that could have. I don’t know and it doesn’t matter – she’s a mama and she’s hurting.

And I, two and a half years later, was able to try to give back the reassurance you all have given me. Our children matter. 6 weeks. 19 weeks. 34 weeks.

3 weeks into this world.

They matter. They are loved and remembered – and all this time and struggle and fight and heartache later, God led me to tell someone that who will never hear it again, with the little I had to give and the words that I’m sure didn’t come out right. I won’t ever forget her or her baby.

 

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.

 

33 Comments

  • The Big News | DianaWrote

    January 23, 2015 at 7:18 pm

    […] that’s not the big news at all (in fact those cookies are to sell). It has to do with Zimbabwe, me, the boys, these past nearly 3 years, and my […]

  • Jordan Bariesheff

    December 3, 2014 at 7:14 am

    So glad you listened to that still small voice and went back. A god story was written that day because you obeyed. What a beautiful moment it must have been x

  • Jordan Bariesheff

    December 3, 2014 at 7:14 am

    So glad you listened to that still small voice and went back. A god story was written that day because you obeyed. What a beautiful moment it must have been x

  • simplyjessilee

    December 1, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    Thank you. This is beutiful. I found your blog through #shereadstruth and was intrigued by your “about” blurb. I lost four babies through miscarriage. I lead a Pregnancy & Infant Loss support group through my church (Mosaic Christian in Maryland)… this blog post blew me away. God is so good and He is using you in marvelous ways.

  • Erin

    November 22, 2014 at 9:16 pm

    what and amazing and overwhelming experience. You have such a beautiful way with words, I have tears streaming down my face. Thank you for sharing it all.

  • Jessica M

    November 22, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    WOW, Diana. This was so incredibly moving. I can tell God is putting you in places where you are needed – I’m sure that young woman will remember you for life. God bless you!

  • Jen

    November 21, 2014 at 6:57 am

    Seven years ago this week, I lost my first baby. Thank you for remembering them all.

  • Alecia Via

    November 21, 2014 at 12:34 am

    Beautiful!!!

  • geomom

    November 20, 2014 at 9:41 am

    Thank you for being the hands and feet of Jesus to that sweet young momma. Praying for both her and for you. So amazing the ways that God chooses to bring beauty from our ashes and sooth another’s wounds with the salve we have received for ours. Bless you for listening to the Holy Spirit and allowing His love to flow through you.

  • iwillbloom

    November 20, 2014 at 8:07 am

    Beautiful. [Mama of one lost one, at 8 weeks, 18 February is difficult every year].

  • Christa Hope VanderVelde

    November 20, 2014 at 7:46 am

    Tears falling right now, my momma lost 2 little ones and I will always remember them as brothers and sisters! Their lives, no matter how short, matter! And they will be remembered!

  • alejandra

    November 19, 2014 at 10:49 pm

    what a perfect gift for that grieving momma. You were a blessing indeed. I miscarried my last at 6 weeks, those feelings don’t go away. I’m currently 8 weeks with my 3rd and I struggle daily to keep My thoughts focused on the big picture and not the “what ifs”. Thank you for sharing and doing what you do.

  • Kristin

    November 19, 2014 at 8:19 pm

    Beautiful. Going to try to follow your example however I can.

  • Becky @ bybmg

    November 19, 2014 at 7:26 pm

    Wow… just wow. What a God-send that you were able to meet her and be with her. You were the hands of God to her.

  • cleaneatingchelsey

    November 19, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    This was one of the most beautiful and authentic posts I have ever read. God bless you and your mama heart for comforting that girl (literally.. a girl. my heart breaks).

  • Krista

    November 19, 2014 at 6:45 pm

    What a beautiful story and thing you did for that poor girl <3

  • Dawn Kinson

    November 20, 2014 at 12:40 am

    Thank you. ❤️❤️

  • Amber Villani Newberry

    November 19, 2014 at 10:40 pm

    Oh sweet mama, what a treasure you are!! God is using you in such awesome and powerful ways sister, I know that you would rather have your boys, but thank you for your obedience to God in all the tragedy and loss, thank you for shining His light through your broken pieces. We will never know this side of heaven the mighty work being done in your story sister,it is a blessing to know you.

  • Diana Swegart

    November 19, 2014 at 10:34 pm

    Yes the memory lasts forever and they all matter each little heartbeat burned into our memories like brands on our hearts. Beautiful Diana just beautiful

  • Elise N Hoffman

    November 19, 2014 at 9:30 pm

    2 Corinthians 1:3-4
    Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are afflicted with the comfort we received from God.

    Praise God for creating something beautiful from the brokenness! I'm so glad you've been willing to let Him use you for His purpose. Thank you for being an inspiration to me and to those God has placed in your path.

  • Melissa Hodges

    November 19, 2014 at 9:09 pm

    I love your heart and the way you allow God to use it to lead you. It's your greatest gift. ❤

  • Melissa Hodges

    November 19, 2014 at 9:09 pm

    I love your heart and the way you allow God to use it to lead you. It's your greatest gift. ❤

  • Anne-Marie

    November 19, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    So many tears.Thank you for being brave enough to keep sharing your enormous heart.

  • Jenny Summers

    November 19, 2014 at 8:47 pm

    Tears. Beautiful. Just so beautiful. Thank you for being the hands and feet of Jesus to her when she needed them so badly.

  • bethanneballance

    November 19, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    I love you, I love you, I love you.

    Saturday marks 6 years for me. It still feels like yesterday.

  • Jenn Ross

    November 19, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    so beautiful …and it reminds me of when we hear those messages..those urgent messages about doing something, calling someone, giving something and we try to ignore them but they won’t go away…we just must act on it not even knowing if it will make a difference. In the end it ALWAYS makes a difference, whether we see it right away or hear about it years later or never hear. Those are God’s messages to us to do what we can and even the smallest of gestures are important. You made a difference…a HUGE difference in a life that may or may not see that kind of love again. Blessings to you.

  • Karri Bergren

    November 19, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    November 25th this year will mark 2 years since we lost our second twin. November 27th, 2013 I was due with another child, but we lost him, too. We should be celebrating a first birthday this month.

    This post reminds me why it's important to share grief. We are in a unique position to share our love and heartache when others are so hurt.

    your loving kindness will leave a lasting impression on that girl. Thank you for following that voice. Thank you for sharing.

  • Anamarie @ Less Than Average Height

    November 19, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    Beautiful story! What an awesome way to honor you both as mothers!

  • Rusti

    November 19, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    love. just love coming to you. love and prayers and *hugs*

  • Laura BC

    November 19, 2014 at 8:15 pm

    Oh my heart…..

  • Lydia Turner

    November 19, 2014 at 8:14 pm

    Amazing story. Thank you so much for sharing. There was a special connection between the two of you and it did matter.

  • Jenny McClamroch

    November 19, 2014 at 8:04 pm

    This is beautiful Diana. I cried reading this story. It's amazing to think of what you must have seen while in Zimbabwe, but also that maybe the whole reason God sent you there was to hug that mama.

  • Molly

    November 19, 2014 at 1:00 pm

    Big tears falling right now. Thank you for sharing her story. Thank you for going back to give her the scarf.

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