Fellow students, who were in medical school and interns in various hospitals across Kiev, reported seeing badly burned people being quietly whisked into their facilities. The minimal access some had to international media broadcasts were either totally blacked out or could only be heard sporadically. The news was too big, however, and too many students were travelling outside of the country for information of the disaster to be kept on the “down low,” for much longer.
I was pregnant with my first child and was one of the first to get out of the country. Months later, when my child – a boy – was born, dead, a still birth, I blamed the Soviet Government for my loss. The stress of being in the country for months after the accident and eating and drinking polluted food and water, if not the actual effects of the nuclear substances (??) that wafted across Kiev, were thought to be in some measure responsible for my loss.
Twenty eight years later, I am wondering how true that really was as I sat in the waiting room of the Royal Alexandria Hospital in Edmonton, Canada.
On July 1, 2014 at 1:40 in the morning, my first grandchild, a girl, was born. Her arrival was unexpected by the medical professionals but something told me she was going to get here earlier than her August 4 due date. When my daughter sent me the picture from her first ultrasound I was still in Jamaica on an extended visit. After offering congratulations and the usual questions such as when, what the sex, etc., I remarked to her “Your baby is going to get here by mid-July." I just knew.
Returning to Canada in April was not my first choice. I really wanted to remain in Jamaica, the land of my birth, but the actualities on the ground were not what I had hoped they would be and something was telling me it was time to leave. News of a grandchild determined where my destination in Canada would be.
That was when it slowly dawned on me that the stillbirth of my first child was not necessarily due to the Chernobyl accident but my own health deficiencies and the poor medical care that I was receiving as a severely anemic woman. My daughter is too.
On June 30, Abi, my daughter called me at work around 5:00 p.m. to say she was still feeling poorly and suffering severe leg and lower back pain. Without a second thought I told her to get dressed, we are going to the hospital. We arrived around 6:00 p.m. and an Intern examined her around 8:30. His diagnosis was that back pain was “a regular occurrence in pregnant women" and he was going to send her home with some Tylenol!
Those who know me, and my daughter does, know that I can and will become dangerously annoyed when my loved ones are threatened. My looks will kill when my intelligence is questioned. The Intern found out as well.
After schooling him on the shared condition between my daughter and I; how it presents itself and what her medical professional since the pregnancy has not done, he ordered a battery of tests and requested a specialist, senior obstetrician/surgeon consult.
Said Senior Doctor confirmed what my Spirit was telling me and what Mahalia, my Kitten and granddaughter, was desperately trying to communicate all day. It was time to get her out.
|Mahalia on the NICU a week ago|
This morning as I changed her diaper as she fussed (she hates being changed), my heart sang. The cycle has broken.
Death is not something I fear. Not anymore. The death of my first child and the many transitions that I have had the honour of being present for in two hospitals in Alberta have taught me that this is a circle – the circle of Life.
|Mahalia at almost two weeks old|
Funny side story: My daughter did not know about her baby’s namesake – Mahalia Jackson – when she chose the name. When I told her she said, “Well you will have to teach her about her!”I most certainly will tell her about the Queen of Gospel but also that her name means “tenderness,” and that is what she is – tender and precious.
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