“At night around 10pm the labor pain started. No enough people were with me to help. Around 3 pm my boy entered into this world. Only, a midwife (from among the refugees) was with me. It was very painful,” says 28-year-old *Fiza who gave birth a child on 23 September. The newborn child died in eight days on 30 September.
In recent crisis caused by escalating violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, about 515,000 people are estimated to have crossed the border into Bangladesh and more than half are women and children. Three percent of the newly arrived refugees are pregnant, and 7 per cent are breastfeeding women. The pregnant women had to tread risky roads with no food, water and little rest. The pregnant women also have little access to clean water, nutritious food in a densely populated refugee camps.
About the night she says, “During labour I didn't have enough strength to push. The baby had to be tugged out of me by his hands first. He cried just after coming out.”
She feels sad remembering the days when she wanted to breastfeed him but she could not.
“My body was unable to produce breast milk for three days. I fed him packet milk provided in distribution centre. It was cow branded milk. By the time my milk started coming, my boy had already fallen ill. He had become weak and was unable to drink more milk,” says Fiza.
For inevitable reasons the child’s health started deteriorating. They took him to the shelter medical centre from there he was referred to a hospital. But he didn’t survive.
“Child’s health worsened on the fourth day. He was breathing abnormally. We took the baby to the hospital. We were in the hospital for three days but the health of child was not improving. When the child’s health started getting worse, they sent us home, back with the child; it was close to midnight. We brought our child to the shelter. Later the next day he died,” she says.
The family performed the last prayer for the child at the temporary mosque in the refugee camp.
“There is no graveyard in the shelter. I had to search for a place to bury my child. It was a struggle. Finally, we managed to get a place in a local graveyard near the Balukhali Mosque. That day I was able to bury my child,” says *Shorif, the father of the child.
Shorif grapples with understanding the reason behind his son’s death. “I don’t know why my child died. But I know my wife had to walk a long way, from Myanmar, when fled to save our lives. And during delivery she had to endure a lot of pain.”
All the family could afford, after reaching the camp was eating potatoes, cucumber and Shutki; that was Fiza’s diet few days before delivery.
With tears in her eyes Fiza, “The baby was in my womb for 10 months. He was very gentle. When he came into the world I saw him. He had husband’s face. We wanted to name him Anaj. Only a mother can understand how painful it is to lose a child.”
*not real names
Story & Photo by: Himaloy Joseph Mree