In Summary
  • Princess Amani had developed breathing problems a few weeks after her birth. A paediatrician had diagnosed her with neonatal sepsis. But it was too late.
  • Princess Amani died on Good Friday in April 2014. “After she died, I clung on desperately to hope and waited for her resurrection, just like Jesus.”
  • Everything seemed to go in fast-forward motion after that. “My family made the decision to bury her in Lang’ata a day after she died, so I never really got to say goodbye as I should have.”

Guilt was an all-too-familiar emotion that Vivian Gaiko, 26, tried to thwart unsuccessfully when she lost her first child, 16-day-old Princess Amani. Questions like ‘Could I have done something to prevent her death?’ ‘Shouldn’t I have noticed that something was wrong with the baby earlier?’ plagued her months after her baby had been buried. "Ironically, I was left with the caesarean section wound as a daily reminder of the tragedy.”

Princess Amani had developed breathing problems a few weeks after her birth. Vivian and her husband took her to a private hospital where the baby was put on an oxygen mask, and were later referred to Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH), where a paediatrician diagnosed her with neonatal sepsis. But it was too late.

Princess Amani died on Good Friday in April 2014. “After she died, I clung on desperately to hope and waited for her resurrection, just like Jesus.”

Everything seemed to go in fast-forward motion after that. “My family made the decision to bury her in Lang’ata a day after she died, so I never really got to say goodbye as I should have.”

Once that was done, Vivian was left to deal with the emptiness. “I had deferred my studies at the university to have a child but now there was no child to take care of. I was jobless. I told everyone who asked about the baby that she was doing well, growing up well. Clearly, I was in denial.”

The emotions that were brewing up in her propelled her to her lowest point, emotionally. She suffered from depression and attempted suicide twice. “My husband buys Piriton and paracetamol tablets in bulk, so one day I decided to overdose on both. I studied a unit in pharmacology at the university, so I know what levels of aspirin in my blood could cause death. 

SUICIDE ATTEMPTS

“All I remember after that is that I fell into a very deep sleep and was very feverish. I sweated profusely. It is only when I woke up that I realised I had vomited a lot. Apart from that, the only other evidence of my suicide attempt was the ringing in my ears and a heavy head.”

Ashamed of her actions, she cleaned up the vomit and breathed not a word to her husband. Her husband, on the other hand, dealt with his grief by burying himself in work.

Vivian went back to medical school, where she was studying medical laboratory science and technology. Visiting Kenyatta National Hospital was part of the school’s lessons, and each visit triggered painful memories of her loss.

Just when Vivian thought she had finally moved on, fate decided to have the last laugh. 

“I had attempted suicide twice, but on this day, I was relaxing in the house having a meal of potatoes when I suddenly started choking. A piece of potato had wedged itself inside my windpipe. I struggled for a while and finally managed to dislodge it.”

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