‘It’s normal Zeba! There is nothing to worry about!’ I was told this repeatedly in the last 4 months and I tried to believe that there was really nothing to worry about. It was four months since I had missed my periods and was hopefully looking forward to be a mother. Knowing of my pregnancy, everyone in the house was very happy. I was 20 years old and was pregnant after three years of marriage, which was quite uncommon in the entire extended family. Every single woman who has wed in our family was blessed with a child within a year. Everyone was happy but deep inside me; I felt there is something to worry about. Things were fine till I started having water discharge. I was already in the fourth month. I told this to my husband Saddam and to my mother in law, but they assured me that it was it was normal. Two days later the water discharge was accompanied with blood stains. She again said, ‘this happens quite often and there is nothing to worry about’. My mother is law is 48 years old and is well known as Sufia dai, a traditional birth attendant (TBA) and her work as a TBA adds to our family income. She has never had any training, yet she is well sought for delivering babies in our village, so I thought that my fears were baseless. Two more days went by and the blood stains kept increasing from droplets to darker stains. I felt weaker than before, probably more due to fear than the bleeding. Everyone in the house seemed to believe that things were okay. On the night of the fourth day, the bleeding was intense and my mother in law became worried. In the morning, she arranged for a vehicle to go to a local doctor. I was in severe pain. Before the vehicle even arrived, I had a miscarriage. Somebody informed about this to Mamta didi, the Anganwadi worker of our village Sarai Mihir, Barabanki in U.P. She was shocked to know that I was pregnant as it had not been reported to her. I was bleeding profusely and felt very weak. I was immediately sent to the doctor. It was two months since I had lost my baby. At this time, Mamta Didi informed me about the newly formed mothers’ group meeting facilitated by CARE at the Anganwadi Centre and asked me to join. To my surprise, my mother in law accompanied me to the meeting. We met Neelam didi, who told me that as a member of the woman’s group, I will learn safe practices and will not have to bear the kind of the pain I suffered. I heard woman sharing information about their health, their pains and their happiness. I saw them talking about the danger signs for the mother and the newborn through picture cards. I kept thinking all the time, that if only I had known all this earlier, I would have not met this fate. We would have recognized the water discharge and bleeding as danger signs, and would not avoid it. I kept attending every meeting and learnt so much. Two months later, I was pregnant again as I could recognize the symptoms of pregnancy. I happily shared this with all at home. I was registered at the AWC and was asked to visit the sub centre with my husband. My husband was also invited to join the men’s group facilitated by Amit Bhaiya, which had also been organized by CARE India. It came as a blessing. The first day, after he came back from the meeting, he was very quiet. I was worried if he was angry and would not let me go to the mother group meetings that I liked so much. But one day he said, ‘I was so wrong. I thought that having sons is very necessary; I thought women are meant only to create children and look after their husband and home.’ It was easier for me to share the same feelings when he shared his. We started talking about what happened in both our meetings. There was so much to talk between the two of us. He told me all about the discussions related to the anatomy and health issues discussed during his meetings and I told him all about mine. We went for the check- ups together at the sub centre. I got myself registered and was given an ANC card It was a cold winter evening when I had to be taken to the hospital. A vehicle was arranged. My husband, my mother in law and the ASHA Didi were next to me and this time I knew I did not have to worry. I had a normal delivery and I was happy to see my mother in law taking care of the newborn and following all that we learnt at the mother’s group meeting. Knowing that my mother in law was a traditional birth attendant; she was offered TBA training, to which she happily agreed. She said she would share the healthy behaviors and practices for the mother and the newborn where-ever would go. Zeba talks in an animated way, “I tell you, I am so lucky to be married in this family and in this village. I have followed everything that my husband and I had learnt at our meetings. My mother in law who was completely against institutional delivery took me to the hospital. My baby is nine months old now and has got all the vaccines on time.” She showed me the ANC / immunization card with details of the dates of all the services given to them. Zeba smiles and says, “I will make sure that nobody in my entire family goes through the ordeal I had during my first pregnancy. With the support from my mother in law, I will share my experience with other women in my community and I am sure they will be as happy and safe as I am today.”

Posted By : CARE Team