When I first arrived at my host family’s house way back in September 2012, I had been told I had a sister the same age as me. She was nowhere to be found. It wasn’t too soon until I found out that she had been admitted to the hospital due to a miscarriage at seven months because of high blood pressure. When she returned home, I remember meeting her for the first time. It was somber moment, as we quietly sat next to the wood stove to warm up. I knew she was happy to meet me, but it just wasn’t the right time.
As months went on, obviously my relationship with her grew. She told me how much she wanted a baby, and how last time it just had been the wrong time. I reassured her everything happens for a reason.
Late March, I got a knock on my hut door. It was her beaming with joy, delivering the news that she was pregnant again. Her and her boyfriend were delighted. Since then, she has taken every precaution possible and been to and forth from the doctor’s. She was determined to make it right this time with anything she had control over.
A few weeks ago, she had her second miscarriage at seven months in. The doctors cannot give her a reason why.
I sat on writing about what’s been going on with my family for quite some time. Mostly because it’s personal and everyone deserves a certain right to privacy during challenging times. But as the weeks have gone on, I’ve realised more and more that I should write about this – and in fact, celebrate my sister.
I know an American reading this may say 24 is far too early to want a kid so badly/have one. I completely agree in our culture. But in her culture, it’s pretty incredible she has waited this long. All of her friends have at least two children. Not to mention, her boyfriend has planned for it and saved money. This is something that is rare, as usually babies just come along as something that “just happens”.
My sister would make an incredible mother; my mom would be the fun-loving gogo. My sister’s boyfriend and his family would be very involved.
She knows that. We all know that. Then we look around our community and see so many young teen mothers, kids who were unexpected and being raised by gogo at home with young mothers living elsewhere or too busy, absent fathers, and come back to our perfect set up. My sister and the two families involved deserve a little one. So why can’t it happen?
They say God only knows; I say everything happens for a reason and sometimes it takes a while to see what that reason is, good or bad.
Life. That’s just life, right?
Well, that’s my sister’s attitude even after going through this twice. She has said to me: “There is nothing I can do about it now. I must move on. That’s life.”
She carried the baby after the miscarriage for three weeks and gave birth to a stillborn. I never heard her complain once about being in pain. And when doctors were telling her conflicting information, she sat there calm and collected. Of course she cried, and seeing her at the funeral was heartbreaking. However, she has gone on with normal life as is, and as if nothing had happened.
It’s not that she doesn’t care that it happened. It’s her reaction to the situation within her cultural norms – Zulu women are brave, extremely strong and have a high threshold for pain and suffering. My sister falls directly into this description, and may be just one of the strongest people I’ve met.
My sister is one example of a woman in my community enduring such strife with a smile on her face. I can only imagine what other women take and handle.
Everyone can learn a lot from my sister. Life happens and sometimes it doesn’t turn out the way you planned, but you may have no control over it. You’ve got to pick the pieces up and keep on going, just like many Zulu women do.
Amandla / strength