My Longcall Abortion

Here I was, lying in bed, thinking. What was I thinking about you ask? My unborn child.

It had been 11 weeks since my heart stopped beating after seeing those 2 lines streaked on the pregnancy test kit. To say I had been overwhelmed would be an understatement. The wave of emotions I felt in that minute that felt infinite must not have a term coined for them yet. It’s indescribable.

Pregnancy scares are so common that at some point methinks we deem it a positive pregnancy test near impossible. Yet here I was. 22, clueless on motherhood and pregnant. I did not have the luxury of supportive parents in fact, they chastened me when I opened up to me and straight up decided to leave me on my own. My so-called partner was in the wind.

Life has a wicked sense of humor indeed.

Like any other young pregnant female I had contemplated an abortion more than once. The days when the mornings were unbearable and the loneliness crushing. When school seemed like the least of my worries – I was going to be responsible for a human being for God’s sake! Lectures drifted through with me in a daze and in my mind a bleak future awaited for me. I had not the first clue on how I was going to raise this baby when it finally arrived but I chose my misery to be my consolation at that moment and it worked.

I remember waking up that morning groggy and pressed. I strolled to the ladies half awake. I had been constipated lately. Like everyone else, I tried to take upto 8 glasses a day but no, my bowels had a different story they wanted to tell. As I squat and hoped the constipation was gone, I felt a sudden lightness in my abdomen and something gushing out of me that didn’t feel like poop. I looked down instantly and almost fainted at what I saw. It was a fetus. My fetus. My baby. So tiny and gory. Had I just had a spontaneous abortion during a long call?! In that moment my constipation was the least of my worries. I rushed out of the loo the only thing on my mind being the hospital.

“Yours is a classic case of cervical incompetence,” the doctor said after all the investigations had been done.

“cervical what now?” I stuttered.

Cervical incompetence.

“What you need is a cervical cerclage operation in your subsequent pregnancies to avoid losing your pregnancy again,” he added.

When I heard surgery, my head began spinning. Was I going to die?

No need to worry. It’s a minor surgery and it will be over before you know it.” he said confidently which make my heart beat less faster.

Part of me felt relived having lost the impending responsibility but part of me wondered why what came natural to most women wasn’t so for me.

Was my body broken? Is what kept on ringing in my mind as I left the hospital. Was I ready to go back to the life before what I’d known the past 2 months? There was only one way to find out.

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ACT ON MENSTRUATION WITHOUT HESITATION

This an article I wrote following a training on Menstrual heath Education that I attended in Kampala, Uganda starting 27th April to 1st May, 2015 that, unfortunately, never got published as anticipated.

The future of girls in East Africa remains bleak as many are dropping out of school due to, among others, menstrual related challenges. The society’s stereotypes inculcated in them pertaining menstruation being a curse, makes the girl child believe that their future is bleak the moment they spot blood on their underwear. In Uganda, 61% of girls admit to missing school due to their menstrual period, the numbers continue to soar with each passing moment of our ignorance and the statistics are bound to rocket if we do not act on menstruation without hesitation.

Irise International, a UK charity, organized a training on Menstrual Health Management at Entebbe in Uganda from 27th April to 1st May, 2015. An eye-opener for the Irise ambassadors who were in attendance and a reiteration of what we all know but take obvious. Providing education on menstrual hygiene is paramount. In order to break the silence and rise above the stigma, girls need to be enlightened on the normal physiological process they are bound to undergo; menstruation, because girls matter.

Light needs to be shed on the facts and the myths used by society to put the girl child down. In addition, men need to understand that menstrual hygiene management affects them directly because everyone is a product of a missed period however much they consider women “unclean creatures.” These beautiful, promising young girls should not be bashed, perturbed or miss opportunities because they are menstruating instead, we should empower the girl child to be bold and unshakable on matters concerning her menstruation cycle. Statements such as, “I cannot trust a creature that bleeds for five days and does not die” from our male counterparts are demeaning, disheartening and exposes men’s ignorance on this global phenomenon; menstruation.

The lack of clean water in some areas, sanitation and medical care has negative consequences, especially for the female members. Menstruating girls and women are forced to use mattresses, old cloths, drying them in moist places this, almost always lead to vaginal infections. This is because menstruation is a taboo issue and menstruating girls are flushed to open up about their menstruation.

In addition, there are different ways of relieving painful cramps and getting pregnant is not an effective method. Alternatively, one can take painkillers, exercise, place a warm water bottle on the stomach and incase of severe dysmenorrhea or menorrhagia, a health care should be contacted.

The constant emphasis on our patriarchal society is counterproductive since it takes two to tango. The facilitators of this training spiked my interest the most since they gave up their daily routine and commitments to come and echo how serious menstrual health education is to us and to our sisters, brothers, parents and friends. You can corroborate with me that most people expect a stipend even after offering to volunteer therefore, these facilitators are an inspiration to me and my fellow ambassadors and they should be to you too because if they can, why wouldn’t you?

Last but not least, this training in Entebbe, Kampala taught me many new skills for instance I was able to learn how voluminous effect one’s body language and choice of words has on a conversation. For instance, when trying to convince a chauvinistic, misogynistic set to win politician that women’s anatomy is not something to be used against them. Therefrom, this menstrual hygiene day, break the silence, become a superhero and help to ensure that no girl is ever held back by her period! Act on menstruation without hesitation by supporting friends, teaching others and keeping girls in school. Be your own super hero.

No, it does make you a woman

Bleeding four or days a month has absolutely nothing to do with being termed a fully grown woman or a woman for that matter.

Menstruating has, for long, been used as the pillar in defining womanhood. I beg to disagree. A young girl of 12 years begins her menstruation today(thanks to genetics and the foods we consume) and we call her a woman? In what aspect is she a woman? Menstruating means she can get pregnant, yes. But has it come to that? Reducing womanhood to the ability to conceive and bring life into this world?

My bleeding is not enough to enable you brand me a woman.

What could a 12 year old possibly know about being a woman? Close to nothing, I presume. If you told her she is a woman I am certain that she’d look up at you with big, round, cute, innocent eyes and blink in confusion because she cannot comprehend your insinuation. She knows not the first thing about making decisions, being assertive, thinking as a rational human being, leave alone as a woman.

A woman is the embodiment of strength. She is expected to be a career woman and be a mother. To be dominant at the workplace but submissive in the household. To be stern but kind. To shoulder other people’s troubles and still stay strong in her own. To be strong physically but not so strong that the men in her life feel insecure. To raise a bunch of children and still maintain her performance in the workplace. A woman can choose not to cry now because she needs to be assertive. She can choose what to do, say she gets pregnant and the partner forsakes her. A woman can raise a child. A woman can create a schedule that fits her and make it work. A woman can choose to be a career woman or a housewife. A woman can make her own decisions.

Can a 12 year old do these things?

Can she decipher that daddy was just angry, not at her, when he unintentionally raised his voice at her? No. She will cower in fear and confusion.

A woman is a person who is able to make sound decisions, stand by them, tell right from wrong, be a functional social being and a responsible member of society, one who can exist on her own.

So please, enough with telling girls they are women the moment they start having cramps. Its because of this thinking that some rapists think it justifiable to dehumanize a girl and rob her of her innocence.

Lets know what we mean by what we say and no, talk is not cheap.

Talk is powerful.