At month 5, I turned a corner. I began to feel hungry again and managed to keep food down. I moved from my bed to the couch. I bathed.
Praise Jesus, I felt that baby kick.
I cry even now.
Months passed and I gradually gained more strength. I rejoiced at my expanding middle and celebrated every movement in my womb. We made difficult decisions about where we would birth this child. We chose Nairobi, Kenya and made detailed and complicated arrangements for housing, transportation, physicians and hospitals.
The week before we left for Nairobi I traveled to a nearby village to say goodbye to a group of women I had been studying with. As my language helper and I drove into the village, we saw the women moving en masse towards Akiik’s home. The mood was somber and we immediately knew that a burial was imminent.
We drove into Akiiki’s compound and were informed that Akiiki had delivered a baby boy and that he had quickly died. Burial was today. The community of women gathering took in my heavy form and quickly moved inside to scurry and speak in hushed tones. My language helper explained that the baby’s body was laid out in the sitting room and that they were covering it because I shouldn’t see it.
I’m sure there were some animistic principles I could have addressed, but my head and emotions were swimming and I took this act as a mercy from friends and quietly entered to sit near to Akiiki’s weeping form. I held her hand and cried with her. And somewhere in the hour I managed to publicly word a prayer. I remember my baby kicking as I prayed.
After an appropriate time together, my language helper and I departed for home. As I drove us over the bumpy roads I could hardly think straight, let alone speak.
When I dropped my language helper at her home, I asked why the baby had died. Joy solemnly replied, ‘Akiiki had malaria early in her pregnancy and did not treat it. Her fever took his life.”
I managed to reach home before falling apart.
Honestly, without the expertise and science of an autopsy report, we could not know for sure what sickness had taken Akiiki’s son. But the reality of what God had mercifully carried me and our child through so far was heavy and convicting to me. Treatment or no treatment…God had saved our baby up to now. It was in His hands as to our story’s conclusion. The mourning and grief of Akiiki and her community flooded me with the unanswered questions I was growing accustomed to in the Third World. So much devastation. So much brokenness.
I walked through the irony of my friend’s grief and my own preparation for our baby. I wish I could say I was optimistic. I think I was just resolute. One day at a time. Baby is okay for now. Don’t worry about tomorrow.
(to be continued...)