Keeping the faith

Society & Culture | By Edith We Utonga, Musician | 10 January 2014
PHOTO: © Baynham Goredema

A few of months back,we discovered our five month old baby boy had a congenital heart defect which doctors diagnosed upon further examination when they found a large hole in his heart. This condition, we were told would hinder his growth and damage his vital organs if nothing was urgently done about it. To make matters worse, the doctor gave my son a maximum of between 4 and 6 months to live.

As anyone can imagine, this was devastating for a young mother. My knees shook and I had to sit down to ese the . I cried a lot and kicked myself for working so hard and traveling a lot while pregnant! I mean this was the kind of stuff we read in YOU magazine and only got to watch on TV.....and NEVER dreamt or imagined it would happen to me. I looked around me and wondered why i had to be the one to go through this....surely I had had my own share of life's hardships....saka why?!

Yet,through this life changing experience I have been born again,through my son, Madalitso (Blessings).It never occurred to me that this painful experience would enlighten and strengthen me as a wife,friend,career woman,christian and above all a MOTHER.

Its after 330am and my Braveheart needs my attention...will continue with this later

Sleep became a as much as i tried to sleep off my worries about what I had just found out,sleep was far from happening.It became clear to me why its easy to turn a blind eye....because the truth was too big a monster for me to face. As a child,hiding deep under the blankets or under the bed, took care of a bad dream. But this bad dream refused to go away.
Suddenly I took closer looks at my son and a lot of things started adding up,not gaining enough weight like a child his age would,his heartbeat was like a gallop or Usain Bolts' after a hundred metre sprint. But other than that, he looked well,loved his feeds and did not strike as a sickling. And the visit to my inlaws did not help matters...a distant aunt lifted the baby and asked why he was such a lightweight.She even offered to give us some metal to bath him in so he could be heavier!Luckily my mother-in-law was there to put a stop to that idea.Chembere akomana....

For over a week,i cursed the day I insisted on going to that paediatrician. I should have just listened to my dear husband,who had googled and found that the infection,which had us take baby Madalitso to the doctor in the first place,would go away after a few days.Another week went by before I had the nerves to ask my husband to just go to the Diagnostic Heart Centre and get it over and done with.

The doctor there only added salt to injury by telling us our baby would need open heart surgery to patch up the hole inside his heart. It was common in children to be born with their heart not fully formed and with little holes on it, but the one we had was a large one,and would not close on its own as is the norm with small size holes.Not only that,the child was in heart d]failure and needed medication to help him cope.

India would be the best place to go he said,as no such facility was available in Zimbabwe, and it would cost us at least USD150000.....

'Where do we start, I asked my husband.... its just before elections and no money is circulating? 'I looked around my house and tried to start calculating what each item would cost should we decide to save our baby....... 'It shall be well' he said. 'I will not fail my son'.

Til this day I remember the doctors words as we stood to leave his rooms...'you must thank God your son had that urinary tract infection when he did... it saved his life'
Thank God.....

Im particularly compelled to write this morning because its a special day today,a day at some point a couple of weeks ago I thought I would not see with my son. He turns ONE today, my little braveheart turns one a bouncy,bubbly baby than he was three weeks ago.....


It was September twenty-fourth,a day after surgery had been performed and my son was breathing well the nurses said,and by end of day he would be off the ventilator. The doctors were happy,and so was I to hear the news. Yet when I got there for my next visit in the early hours of morning,the security guard was quick to want to stop me, and when he realised he was not going to be successful,he rushed ahead of me to the ICU sisters and warned them I was coming. I on the other hand noticed the guard being unusual and increased my pace after him, only to be stopped by two of the sisters right by the door to where my son was.They asked me to go to the waiting room on that floor and wait for the doctor who was going to come and talk to me and at that moment I knew something was wrong,so I refused to sit down until someone explained why..the young girls look at each other, and say some something in the local language that i obviously could not understand and one of them heads back for the ward and comes back with another young nurse,who seemed to be the senior of them and she explains  to me why I could not go in to see my son...


'Sometime in the middle of the night he had difficulties breathing and we had to put him back on the machine'... and? 'now we wait for doctor to come,please sit in the waiting room'. I sat there for about five minutes and I could not take it anymore... I asked and was told the doctor was yet to come.My heart was thumping from my head to my mouth,my eyes filled with tears,my throat dry. With no one to answer any of my questions I found myself walking the corridors that morning,talking to myself, asking questions and answering them, and definitely not liking most of the answers. Tears running down my cheeks, I started praying standing in one corner and when that space became too hot for me, I paced the corridors again,which at this time were filling up with people coming to work and those coming for the seven o'clock visit. I must have been such a sight, well I was already,being an African with such a head full of hair that I did not tie down like they do theirs.Only this time the tall African woman was not just spotting a big hairdo,she was in tears and talking to someone nobody could see!


I told myself to calm down, seeing as no one came to ask me to do that, and opened my acro bible and randomly opened John 11 and it said this sickness is not unto death,but for the glory of God,that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.... thats all I needed to hear and I started praying again, more renewed this time and was loudly doing so and I did not care what anybody thought! They quietly looked, pointed and shook their heads, in understanding or otherwise, I do not know. As I prayed the security guard came and stood in front of me and said the doctor was waiting to see me and I braced, well tried to, myself.


'Madalitso developed an infection in the lungs',the doctor said,'nothing to do with the repaired heart and that is why we have put him back on the machine.I assure you he will be fine.I have been with him for the last couple of hours and we are working flat out to make sure the infection is rid of as soon as possible'. Silence. 'Can I see him now,please?' 'Yea,yea,yeah,sure,sure,sure and I have arranged for the paediatrician.....'I was gone!


I burst into the ICU and there he was, even if helped by the machines, breathing... thats all I needed, to see him, touch him. I knew God was on our side, tears in my eyes starting to fall again, all was going to be well.


Today Madalitso Farai, my Braveheart turns ONE and I am thankful to Dr Mohammed Rehan Sayeed  and the staff at Fortis Hopsital, for being Gods tools. No ordinary person can do that job without His presence.