Shanita’s Story – Moving to a new country: A tale of loss and acceptance!
I love writing about my experiences so that other people know they aren’t alone. I’ve had some pretty crappy times in my life but I’ve had some pretty amazing ones too! Life is a mix of ups and downs and sometimes you just have to close your eyes and make the leap to find your way! You never know what’s going to happen and sometimes it’s nice to just take a chance and try something new.
In this case, Shanita took a huge leap of faith and moved across the world to her husband’s country of origin. With no friends and no support structure of her own, she found herself slowly sinking in… here’s her story!
My experience started when I just arrived in my new country. We stayed with my mother in law. I hated this country, cold and in my mind the people are cold as well. But as long as I was with my husband all was going to be well. Hennie is at work during the day and I’m here all alone with no one that understands me and a culture I don’t understand. This made me wonder if this was the right decision. Then lo and behold I discovered I’m pregnant!
A turn for the worse
1 March 2014 I started bleeding. We tried to phone the hospital and hear; “Yes that sounds like a miscarriage but nothing we can do, you must let nature take its own course.” Yes, nice the whole 3 days in pain! Eventually the following Tuesday a doctor can see me at 18h05. Meanwhile at 14h52 I had the sharpest of pain and it was gone. The suffering comes and goes and is now gone. Get to the doctor telling my story and emphatically he told me “yes, you lost your pregnancy at 12 weeks!”
Now more determined than ever my mind was made up! Shit country, shit systems and shit citizens! On top of it all, we still needed to find our own place. We just needed a break and so off we went to stay with my friend, a 2 hr drive away and had a lovely weekend. For a change, I can chat in my mother tongue without thinking. I could just offload my anger, frustration and just grieve the life I’ve lost.
Giving it my last shot
We came back and immediately made work of looking for a place. Because waiting lists in the Randstad is up to 15 years we broadened our search to the north of the country. Within 2 weeks we found a place with everything to start off with (we left everything in SA because “everything we need we can get here.” – Biggest load of crap if you have only one income!). Now starting all over again God was on our side with this lovely little house.
Hennie immediately found work close by and there was a school across the road for my son Mishano. Perfect! I had to take my inburgerings course which is compulsory but now we are totally in the middle of nowhere and we do not know anybody.
Luckily the principal of Mishano’s new school understood our situation and helped where he could with filling in forms and showed me the important amenities in the dorp. He directed me to an institution to do my inburgerings course.
The start of good things to follow
For that 2 months it was nice 3 days a week in the mornings I’m amongst other people who like me have to find their footing in this country. There I heard some horror stories people fleeing their respective countries. My course went well. I signed a contract for 6 months but finished in 2 months due to my “secret weapon” Afrikaans. In that time I found out I was pregnant again. I told myself I am not going to tell anyone just in case I miscarried again.
As I was on my way to class I felt something happening. As I get to school I go to the toilet and there it is what I feared blood! Went to class told the docent and left. I was just upset and lit a cigarette after not smoking for 3 weeks. Waited for Hennie to come home to phone the doctor, oh yes different province same shit.
The receptionist just told us to wait 6 weeks and do another test. So we left for Belgium for a summer camping trip tent and all. What a holiday that was. I slept all 4 days then we decided to pack up (it started storming). Once back in the Netherlands I did a test again but the stripe was vague. Just to make sure we went to a midwife. She gave a check up and concluded that yes I am pregnant and yes the bleeding a few weeks earlier was indeed a miscarriage. Scan showed our little one was small.
We were given options to go for this test, that test which was all confusing to me. My only worry was if this pregnancy safe for me and my baby. And it seem to me that these people just want to find something wrong. I blatantly refused to do some tests! I didn’t care if the baby had down syndrome or whatever syndrome they could think of!
Then sugar test done – oh yip positive! I now have pregnancy diabetes meaning I had to check my blood sugar 3 times a day! I hated that! On days my blood sugar was high that insulin was “recommended”. That’s where I drew the line my fingers looked a drug addicts arms and now the real thing to inject myself hell no!
When I inquired about the worst that could happen with this diabetes thing the response was “The baby is getting too big for normal birth”
Seeing that I was going to be having a cesarean section anyway (pre determined by the previous 3) what does it matter if my baby was going too big. To my intuition it was perfect that my body was producing extra sugar because my baby was small. I only told a selective few about my pregnancy
1. If I miscarry, less explaining to do.
2. I was embarrassed at 40 to be pregnant.
The latter I got over quickly. Just as this baby is determined to survive I am just as determined to have her. February took so long I even begged for an earlier operation date but no, the 20th it’s going to be.
The big day finally arrives
The day arrived theatre was booked for 13h00. And then we wait……. got prepped and wait…… Sorry an emergency caesar had to be done so we will attend to you a.s.a.p. A little thing I learned is patience in this country.
Eventually I am wheeled into theatre. Anaesthetic is being administered for 10 minutes somehow something keeps on going wrong. Finally I can lay on the table and Hennie can join me. Like 6 years before, Hennie gets clear instructions
1. Do not tell me what they doing
2. If the baby is full of blood they must not show me the baby and very important
3. Never ever let that baby out of your sight.
As we going over the instructions the gynea lets a swear-word escape and then nonchalantly asks “Did you have stomach before the pregnancy”. A confusing “no” I answered. Then Hennie and I both saying this is taking long (by now I’m a c-section veteran).
Instruction #1 was broken Hennie started explaining more to himself ” He is pulling at something” . Ok this is now longer then 10 minutes he is pulling at something ,where is my baby? 5 minutes later our brave little girl was shown to me covered in half blood. At that moment I didn’t care she is here, finally. After the hype calmed down the gynea came to my upper part and explained my womb was attached to my stomach wall and he couldn’t get to the baby before loosening my womb.
Exhale – maybe it’s not all as bad as it seemed
Now I can breathe my baby was fine weighing a whopping 3.7kg.
Here I am in another country, having a baby is yet another culture shock. You get post natal care at home (a lady comes to your house to help you with your baby. You do absolutely jack because you just had c-section that is hectic. From bathing your baby to cleaning the house to cooking if you prefer).
With some duties I made it clear I want to do myself. Of which she found weird because nobody ever refused help. In the 1st week you don’t leave your house everybody comes to you. From the clinic sister to the sister that has to test the babies hearing (new to me). At Mishano’s school even the mother’s jumped into help to bring Mishano home or bring him to whatever sport he had to attend.
That’s when I actually realised we were part of this community.
Everybody treated us exactly how they would treat anybody else! So the people aren’t actually cold or at least not here in the middle of nowhere.
Our little princess who we named Ne’ila ( meaning: closing prayer), came at exactly the right time, just perfect!!!