He should have come in September but patience was not one of virtues. And so on Sunday July 27, 2003 at about 7.30am, Jamira opened his eyes to the world at just about 27 weeks! If you know your math, that’s less than seven months. This was a day after the doctor had discharged me from the hospital after trying to induce the birth for a week with me only achieving a 5cm dilation throughout the week. I had my son at home with the assistance of a nurse!
Just a week earlier, I was up all night working, trying to beat deadlines (as usual) when at about 3am I discovered I was sitting on water. I woke my husband and told him and he asked if the baby was due-he wasn’t. But the water just kept coming!
We waited till about 5am, by which time I had soaked up two ‘wrappers’, and then headed off to the hospital. I was immediately admitted and the doctor ran a scan. He said the amniotic sac was intact but he couldn’t explain where the water was coming from. He decided it was best to induce the birth and so he inserted catheter. After a day or so, the catheter dropped but I was nowhere near contractions-the water was still coming.
The doctor then decided to use injections and drips. This was already day 4 and I had been in constant pain with this water flowing non stop. The doctor did another scan and said the fluid in the amniotic sac was just fine. He still had no idea where all the water was coming from.
The induction started and I went into labour, plus the dilation increased to about 5cm but the baby’s head did not engage. It was at this state that I was discharged. I guess the doctor ran out of ideas.
As you already know I had my baby at home. All the nurse did to get the head to engage was to give me oedema. He was small, but very strong. He didn’t hesitate to grab my breast and suck hungrily. The nurse concluded that maybe he wasn’t premature. I may have miscalculated. I was happy, his father was happy and so were neighbours and friends who couldn’t thank God enough for us.
However three days later, my son slept and for over 24 hours, he did not wake. At about the 15th hour we took him to another hospital, where the nurses (the doctor was unavailable) told us he was just resting. By the next morning, the nurse who assisted in his birth came around and that was when we saw that he had turned blue.
We rushed off to another hospital where they had better facilities and he was immediately taken to intensive care and put in an incubator and diagnosed of apnea attacks. Did I mention that at this point he weighed less than 2kg?
That night, the medical director came to my ward and told me that if not for his religious convictions he would have opted for euthanasia. He said my son had oxygen cut off from his brain for so long and so he was going to be mentally deranged. I was devastated. However, he said he would do everything in his power to see that he survives. Though his chances were very slim, survival was going to be the easy part.
After the doctor left, his father and I got talking about how we were going to cope with a mentally challenged child. We already had one son and the doctor had said we should take consolation in that. During our conversation I realised I hadn’t named him. My husband had named him ‘Chizaram’ at birth which translates ‘God answered me’ but I was supposed to give him an English name. We agreed that he should be named completely so that even if he dies we would have a complete name for him. My husband then said his survival would be a miracle and I said Jehovah’s miracle and thus we came up with the name Jah-mira or as we choose to spell it Jamira.
By the next morning I was awoken by the doctors shout. Jamira had not only made it through the night but had made significant progress health wise. Within the next three days he was out of the incubator and in 5 days I was heading home with my baby.
Jamira is not mentally deranged but he has developmentally challenges. Every milestone has been major- holding his head steady, sitting, walking, talking, running, writing-everything has been delayed, but he has always conquered. In fact, it would seem like he woke up to each milestone. Like when he started talking, he didn’t do it like other babies, he just starting talking in sentences over night. And with his writing, he started drawing circles before he attempted straight lines.
School has been a major challenge. He can’t keep up with kids his age and the Nigerian school system has nothing for kids like him. You see, Jamira has a fantastic memory but he can’t spell or read well. So as far as the Nigerian system is concerned he should be – I don’t know, maybe at home?
I have had to work with the teachers in his school to see him as different and use his strengths to cover up for his weaknesses. They have co-operated so far making his tests oral, someone reads to him, he answers and they write it down. With this system he has been able to perform better than the average student. He enjoys drawing and building things. Sometimes working with him can be really frustrating, but I always like to remember where he is coming from.
Next year he moves on to primary four and the wonderful thing is, he has started reading up to four letter words! I’m sure that very soon, he will cross this milestone like he did others.
Jamira wants to be a doctor. It seems such an impossible feat given that he is still playing catch up with his mates. But who knows! Chizaram Jamira Anaba may yet live his dreams, but if he doesn’t, I’m sure he’ll make others. After all, he lived!