I have a 16 year old daughter named Muthoni. My journey of getting my second baby began in 2010. I conceived and I was due in November. In mid-September, at week 32, I began swelling. I didn’t notice I was swelling but someone told me that I had added so much weight. I could tell that my legs were swollen.
One Sunday morning, I began experiencing a sharp pain on the right side of my abdomen. I thought it might be ulcers or gas but when the pain became unbearable, I went to the hospital. I was admitted as my blood pressure had skyrocketed. The doctors did tests and found that I had protein in my urine and my platelets were low, both of which are signs of pre-eclampsia. My gynaecologist was called to check me. She gave me jabs to mature the lungs of the baby as she bought time to see if the pregnancy could get to week 34 before she removed the baby. The only cure to pre-eclampsia is delivery of your baby. On the day of my admission, I began coughing. I told my doctor and she said I might be developing a cold. However, by Tuesday night, I was experiencing difficulty in breathing and I was still swollen. The nurses thought it was an asthma attack. By the time the doctor was called, I had collapsed and had to be wheeled to I.C.U. I was then taken to theatre for an emergency C-section. The doctors discovered that I had water in my lungs and thus the difficulty in breathing. They delivered a baby boy who was still alive but premature. I was taken back to I.C.U where the doctors began removing the water from my lungs to save my life. It took about a day to drain all the water from my lungs and I was sedated the entire time. I thank God that by Thursday morning I was better and I was taken back to the ward. Unfortunately, my baby boy passed on due to complications with his lungs. I stayed in hospital for three more days before I was discharged. I got a bout of pneumonia during recovery. I thank God that I survived it all and was home on Sunday.
It was the most traumatic experience I have ever had. I thought pregnancy is easy- conceive, carry the pregnancy and get the baby. But that was not the case. I was also traumatized by the fact that I might have died. I stayed home for about two months before resuming back to work. Due to the trauma, I did not want to see any pregnant woman, or to hear conversations about babies. I could not stand the clothes I had shopped for my baby as they reminded me of the whole experience. Although people insisted that I see a counsellor, I did not. However, I had very supportive friends who encouraged me not to give up my hope of getting another baby. It was also traumatizing for my daughter. Although she did not know the magnitude of my sickness, she had waited for the baby eagerly especially because she wanted another sibling. We thank God we came out of it. The whole experience brought me closer to God. I joined a gym so that I could shape up. The weight reminded me of the pregnancy and loss of my baby and I needed to cut it out. I had so much determination that I lost 11 kilograms in 3 months. I would go to the gym twice in a day. When I came back to the office, people who had seen me during the pregnancy would ask about the baby and I would feel really bad. I chose to tell some the story but others, I just remained silent.
Time is a healer and within a few months I was back on track. I did not have the guts to try out for another baby then but a year and three months later, I conceived again. By then I was psychologically ready but I still harboured some fear especially because of my blood pressure. Nonetheless, I had changed my gynaecologist and was seeing one who specializes in high-risk pregnancies. The pregnancy journey was smooth. However, at 33 weeks my pressure started showing signs of rising. I monitored my pressure throughout my pregnancy. By then, I had bought a machine to monitor my B.P. as I had developed a phobia for having my pressure taken, a condition known as white coat syndrome. I notified my doctor of the rise in my blood pressure. He gave me some medication but in low dosage as he did not see any sign of alarm. However, a week later, I felt a sharp pain to my abdomen. My husband and I rushed to hospital. My blood pressure was high. I was told that I had begun dilating and they could not hear the baby’s heartbeat. I comforted myself by believing that the baby might have hidden somewhere in the womb and with time we would feel the heartbeat but they confirmed that it wasn’t there.
This experience was so traumatic! I thought ‘have I been cursed? Who have I wronged? Have I wronged God?’ My gynaecologist was called and the next step was to get induced so that I could give birth to the foetus. Shortly after I was induced, I began bleeding profusely. I was rushed to theatre to get the foetus removed. This time I had a placental abruption. It is a condition where the placenta peels away from the inner wall of the uterus before delivery. Placental abruption can deprive the baby of oxygen and nutrients and cause heavy bleeding in the mother. Blood pressure can cause placental abruption. It was very painful for me. It was a baby girl.
After losing the second baby I sank into depression. I thought it was all very unfair. ‘How can God who I have walked with through this journey allow this to happen to me?’ People began to gossip about me even at the office. My relatives began to speculate that it might be a curse as a result of cultural factors. I began to believe in all they were saying but when I went to the doctor he would reassure me with experiences of other women who had also lost their babies in succession. I also met with other women who had gone through the experience of losing their babies and their stories would comfort me. The loss of the baby the second time threw me off. A month later, I was readmitted in hospital with complications with breathing and haziness. My doctor sent me to a cardiologist to test if I had developed a heart complication. But when I went there they confirmed that I had water in my lung cavity. The doctors suspected that it could have been caused by the placental abruption. I was in hospital for about a week as they drained the water from my lung cavity. I thank God that I recovered fully.
My husband was a great support throughout this journey. He would encourage me and reassure me that we would get another baby who would be healthy and well.
I stayed for about a year and a half before I conceived again in December 2013. This time, I fully consulted the gynaecologist just to know which precautions I needed to take. He assured me that he would deliver the baby at 30 weeks because the problem had arisen after 30 weeks in the last two pregnancies. This gave me some comfort and courage to try again. During that period, I made sure that I was physically 200% fit. I would eat right and exercise regularly. I still harboured some fear from my previous pregnancy experiences but I had a strong support structure of friends we had form a Bible study group with. I had developed a very strong relationship with God.
I was in Dubai when I discovered I was pregnant. I came back and immediately went to see my doctor. He put me on junior aspirin to keep my blood pressure low. I worked out at the gym throughout my pregnancy- up to 36 weeks. As a high-risk patient, my doctor took a lot of precautions. Other than junior aspirin, I was also on omega 3 and calcium supplements throughout the pregnancy. As a result of exercise, my pressure remained low throughout the pregnancy. I constantly consulted my doctor on what kind of exercise was safe for the baby. Although we had decided to have the baby delivered at week 30, my pressure remained low and there were no complications. As a result I carried the baby to term. I would go for a scan every week to ensure that the placenta was aging well. I also employed the help of a doula who I would see every week. She would reassure me each time and update me on the progress of the pregnancy. My doula and doctor were on call every time I had a concern or when the fear crept back.
At week 36, I began to get anxious and I got insomnia as a result. I went for baby shopping on Friday and went to the doctor on Saturday to schedule the delivery. We scheduled it for Monday. He gave me some jabs to mature the baby’s lungs. I checked in on Monday and C-section was performed. Baby Ng’ang’a was delivered weighing 2.2 kilograms. He is now 6 months old. I named him Ng’ang’a after one of my friends had a dream while I was still pregnant that my baby would be called Ng’ang’a. Ng’ang’a came with many blessings. He is indeed a miracle. We record every moment through photography. He is the centre of attention for the entire family. Muthoni is very fond and protective of her little brother. She must kiss him goodnight before she sleeps and see him before going to school. She does not mind spending time with her brother. She looks forward to teaching him how to swim. I always wait in anticipation to go home everyday to spend time with them.
Since Ng’ang’a came, I view life very differently. I am just a happy person always. I do not harbour anger for longer than 30 minutes. My husband has noticed this as well. I waited for Ng’ang’a for five and a half years and I am happy he is finally here. I know that there are many women out there who have lost their babies either during pregnancy or at birth. I want to encourage them because I am a testament of God’s work of miracles. God’s timing is the best and it is better to wait for Him. I would not mind getting another baby but I first want to enjoy some time with my miracle, Ng’ang’a.